2016-08-29 – Scientists have now declared a new geological epoch, starting around 1950, called the Anthropocene. The defining characteristic of our period in geologic history is the influence of human activity on the environment: megatons of non-degradable garbage, alteration of the atmosphere, promotion of select species (chicken, for example—they are finger-lickin’ good) and extinction of others.
Not everyone accepts the verdict, however. Some people think the earth is so vast that humans couldn’t possibly alter it. But why? Humans are not the first species to alter and sculpt the earth. We’ve been preceded in this endeavor by tiny marine animals that live in colonies (like us).
They built the coral reefs.
And they built them under water. Coral reefs are formed by calcium carbonate that is secreted by billions of coral polyps. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in popular antacids, like Tums. I munch a couple tablets a day—not for their antacid properties, but to increase my calcium levels to protect my bones.
If coral polyps could build the coral reefs with their waste products, why is it so hard to believe the impacts of human waste products?