For anyone seeing our planet for the first time from a satellite’s perspective, worries about water might be the last thing to cross their mind. Had we first seen the planet that way; we would probably have named it ‘Water’ rather than ‘Earth.’ Looking at its clouds and ice sheets as well as its expanses of water, we would also see from that perspective that we live on a planet at just the right distance from its star to let water exist in its solid, liquid and vapor states. A few million miles farther from the sun, toward Mars, and our water would all be frozen in its solid state. A few million miles closer to the sun and the water would all be a gaseous cloud mass suffocating the planet. In neither of those situations could life as we know it exist; all life on the planet depends on water in its liquid state – but all land-based life … Read More
A Quick Natural History of the Colorado River
In the last posting, I discussed the great volume of written and visual material that has emerged in recent decades about the Colorado River – First River of the Anthropocene – almost all of it increasingly critical of what we have done with and to the river. It is certainly true that a lot of what we have done reflects poor information and poor planning. We have built storage and delivery systems for a river half-again or twice larger than the River actually was – and it is now diminishing steadily from what it was. And what we have done we can only call ‘anthropocentric’ – something we have to cure ourselves of in the Anthropocene – call it now the Conscious Anthropocene. There is, yes, much to criticize – but then we were not really aware yet that we were in the Anthropocene, and that what we did made differences we needed to anticipate. But lurking behind much of … Read More
The Colorado – First River of the Anthropocene
I said in the first post here that I’ll be focusing on ‘learning to live with the Anthropocene’ – a work-in-progress for everyone who will even acknowledge the existence of the Anthropocene. To refresh your mind on it – the Anthropocene is a new epoch in the evolution of the planet in which the human species is a factor in shaping the planet’s further evolution. This is an ‘honor’ we did not consciously seek – because who would want that kind of responsibility? But we have backed into it, as it were, like it or not – unconsciously, to be sure, and sometimes irresponsibly – but it’s where we are. The Anthropocene follows the Holocene Epoch, which would probably only have been a 20,000-30,000-year interval, plus or minus, of warmth and greenness between epochs of Pleistocene glaciation, had we humans not inadvertently intervened with the advent of the Anthropocene. If you are looking for possible good news in the onset … Read More
Sibley’s Rivers? What, Why and – Why Not?
The first thing I want to say about ‘Sibley’s Rivers’ is to not be misled by the name; it’s not going to be all about rivers – although because the West will be the locus of focus, the rivers that run through it (or don’t) will be frequent topics. Especially the Colorado River, which is so ominously interesting these days. What you’ll find, should you decide to visit ‘Sibley’s Rivers’ from time to time, is mostly going to be ‘rivers of words’ about learning to live in the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene: this new epoch in the eternal evolution of the planet, precipitated by changes that we humans, purposefully or inadvertently, have imposed on the planet’s basic systems, changes which are now altering the conditions of existence for all life on the planet. Most of the scientific community accepts this as a fact of life we now have to learn to live with, and measure up to. We – all of … Read More