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The Coming Era: New Mass Consciousness, or Mass Extinction?

Leading up to that much-heralded year in phenomenology–2012–people from various different fields of interest have been speculating on the changes that will likely occur and affect humankind in a variety of ways.

For years, a variety of rather silly “doomsday theories” have been saturating the metaphysical community, and more recently, authors like Daniel Pinchbeck have offered somewhat more sound conclusions along the lines of an emergence of global consciousness or shift towards a different way of thinking (a paradigm shift, for lack of a better word).

However, in addition to speculation involving these and other theories that include the end of the Mayan Calendar, the 2012 US Presidential election, and a multitude of other potential situations, a new piece that recently appeared in the American Chemical Society’s’ bi-weekly journal Environmental Science & Technology argues that the Earth has entered an new era of geological time, the Anthropocene Epoch, and that the forecast for humanity is anything but good.

Science Daily picked up the story, noting that authors have proposed that this is due to how “humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes to our world” in the last two centuries, which they claim will “alter the planet for millions of years.” The excerpt below cites more specific details:

Zalasiewicz, Williams, Steffen and Crutzen contend that recent human activity, including stunning population growth, sprawling megacities and increased use of fossil fuels, have changed the planet to such an extent that we are entering what they call the Anthropocene (New Man) Epoch.

Apparently, the worldwide geological community is now in the process of formally consideration regarding the use of the term “Anthropocene” in describing our present epoch, and whether it will join the Geological Time Scale along with periods like the Jurassic, etc.

Will the dawn of this new epoch, as the American Chemical Society experts have suggested, include the sixth largest mass extinction in Earth’s history? Or is this sort of speculation merely kin to Mayan Calendar prophecies and the like? When looking at the historic record of vast changes that have occurred throughout time on planet Earth, is there justifiable cause for concern?


Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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