29 August 2016   Leave a comment

The International Geological Congress will be debating whether to declare a new geological epoch:  the Anthropocene.  We are familiar with earlier epochs such as the Jurassic period or the Cretaceous period.  These epochs are determined by some sort of a sharp break with a previous period.  For example, the end of the Jurassic period is marked by a dramatic increase in the geologic presence of Iridium, a residue of a meteor strike on the planet that ultimately led to the demise of large dinosaurs.  The beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch might be marked by the presence of radioactive elements associated with the development of nuclear weapons, the presence of plastics, or the ubiquity of chickens which could not have survived in such numbers without the careful cultivation by human beings.  If the Congress decides to label the present period the Anthropocene Epoch, it will mark the end of the Holocene Epoch which has lasted about 12,000 years and was characterized by a warmer climate which allowed humans to become a dominant species.  The determination would also indicate that humanity has become a primary shaper of the earth’s geology.

Image result for anthropocene

If climate changes develops the way scientists believe it will unfold, the consequences for animal life will be serious.  Just like humans, animals will have to move to more hospitable areas if temperatures rise. Nature Conservancy cartographer and analyst Dan Majka has put together a map showing the most likely migration routes and it is an extraordinary graphic.  But for these migrations to succeed, humans will have to make sure that the animals can move freely.

The Congressional Budget Office has issued a new report, “Trends in Family Wealth, 1989 to 2013”.  Its analysis of the distribution of income in the US is grim:

“In 2013, families in the top 10 percent of the wealth distribution held 76 percent of all family wealth, families in the 51st to the 90th percentiles held 23 percent, and those in the bottom half of the distribution held 1 percent. Average wealth was about $4 million for families in the top 10 percent of the wealth distribution, $316,000 for families in the 51st to 90th percentiles, and $36,000 for families in the 26th to 50th percentiles. On average, families at or below the 25th percentile were $13,000 in debt.”

This maldistribution of wealth is now worse than it was in 1929, just before the onset of the Great Depression.  And the trend is toward even greater inequality.


Posted August 30, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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