Monday, September 8, 2014

The Anthropocene — the Human Age

So much to read. So much to absorb, but so little time. Never in human history has there been so much information and so little time to consume it. For those who won’t have time to get into the new book, The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, here are some snippets of fascinating information. They are taken from the New York Times book review of The Human Age by Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor.

1.    Concentrated body heat from 250,000 daily commuters is being harvested at Stockholm’s Central Station to warm a 13-storey office building nearby. 
2.    Incessant texting prompts a child’s brain map of the thumbs to expand.
3.    Studies of young people in Shanghai and Seoul reveal that 95 percent are near-sighted. This epidemic might be caused by the shift from children playing outside to indoors, hunched over screens.  
4.    Fruit flies share 70 percent of human disease genes, including those associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s
5.    Reintroduction of mammoths to Siberia is envisioned by some de-extinction proponents.

That’s interesting fuzzy stuff. Here are some icy bits to suck on:

1.    The net worth of the world’s 85 wealthiest individuals in 2013 equalled that of our planet’s 3.5 billion poorest people.
2.    Ninety corporations, primarily oil and coal companies, have generated two-thirds of humanity’s CO2 emissions since 1751.

And, a chilling comment that Nixon makes in his review:

“A technology’s emergence is no guarantee that its benefits will trickle down to humanity at large. When men attacked two teenage girls and hanged them from mango trees in India this May, the atrocity drew attention to the fact that the women had to defecate in the forest at night. Two and a half billion humans still lack access to a rudimentary latrine, a venerable technology developed over 3,000 years ago.”

The book is:

The World Shaped by Us
By Diane Ackerman
344 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $27.95.

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