The Science Club of the Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, the Ministry of Nerds will hold the next seminar on “Hazard and Risk from a Geological Deep Time: An Anthropocene Perspective” by Prof. Michael Petterson from the School of Science, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, hosted by Prof. Deepthi Wickramasinghe’s research group.
‘Planet Earth has been in existence for 4.56 billion years and is its own witness to change. Deep Geological Time analysis allows us to view the natural systems and limits of our planet and the variations in environment. Earth has seen ice caps at the equator, and an ice free Earth. Life has existed in much warmer climates than today, even accounting for the Climate Crisis, and life has also witnessed extinction periods that have wiped out >90% of species on Earth. Sea levels have been 400m higher and >100m lower than today, and at many times in earth history the continental area above sea level has been half of that of today. Geological deposits record huge floods, climate changing volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis that buried great swathes of land. Then we (Homo Sapiens) came along…at a few seconds to midnight. For most of the 200,000 years of our existence on Earth we numbered less than 10 million and lived lives with extremely low environmental footprints. In 1800 we numbered 1 billion, in 1920, 2 billion, in 1950 3 billion, and now almost 8 billion people!.
The cumulative impact of this arguably catastrophic rise in human population (for the non-human species) and increasingly gross consumption has yielded a range of environmental impacts, of which Climate Change is but one symptom. The sheer Earth-impact of humans has encouraged geologists to term the period from 1950 ‘The Anthropocene’, recognising that humans now compete with natural processes. One consequence of the Anthropocene is the increased levels of risk we as humans place ourselves under. This lecture will explore these issues in the context of hazard and risk and argue that they reveal powerful tools in the management of risk’.