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domingo, 15 de maio de 2011

are humans reshaping #Earth? @BreakingScience

Extreme makeover: are humans reshaping Earth? via

Extreme makeover: are humans reshaping Earth?

May 15, 2011 by Marlowe Hood

Will homo sapiens, in other words, define a geological period in the way dinosaurs -- and their vanishing act -- helped mark the Jurassic and the Cretaceous?

A growing number of scientists, some gathered at a one-day symposium this week at the British Geological Society in London, say "yes".

One among them, chemistry Paul Crutzen, has even suggested a new name: the .

Whether this "age of man" will be short or long is unknown, says Crutzen, who shared his Nobel for unmasking the man-made chemicals eating away at the atmosphere's protective .

For the first time in Earth's 4.7 billion year history, a single species has not only radically changed Earth's morphology, chemistry and biology, it is now aware of having done so.

"We broke it, we bought it, we own it," is how Erle Ellis, a professor of geography and ecology at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, put it.

"We don't know what is going to happen in the Anthropocene -- it could be good, even better," he said. "But we need to think differently and globally, to take ownership of the planet."

Dinosaurs were most likely wiped out by a giant meteor that cooled Earth's temperatures below their threshold for survival.

An analogous fate could await humans if temperatures climb by five or six degrees Celsius, which say could happen within a century.

But dinosaurs thrived for more than 150 million years before a cosmic pebble ended their extraordinary run, while modern humans have only been around for about 200,000 years, a snap of the fingers by comparison.

Another key difference: didn't know what hit them, and played no role in their own demise.

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