Anthropologist and Gizmodo friend Félix Pharand is mapping the effect of humans on planet Earth. His latest video—which shows cities, transmission lines, pipelines, roads and railways with amazing detail—is simply spectacular. Play it at full screen.
Along with other scientists, Pharand is working on documenting the effects of an epoch that doesn't exist yet: the Anthropocene. It's a term commonly used in scientific literature, but the public knows very little about it. The name is made from two words from Ancient Greek: anthropos—human being—and kainos—new, current.
The reason for this new epoch is what you are seeing in this video: humans are changing Earth through all kinds of engineering, transforming its surface, creating new structures that can be seen from orbit—even if only barely right now. As we progress—and if we survive—our planet will change even more and, in a few thousand years, the changes will be clearly visible from afar.
The Anthropocene is therefore the Era of Humans, which will follow the Holocene if it becomes an official part of the geologic time scale next August, when the 34th congress of the International Union of Geological Sciences meets in Brisbane, Australia.
Of course, this is all arbitrary and Earth and the Universe don't care about it one bit. One supervolcano exploding or one errant asteroid hitting us, and all these changes would be pulverized.
But, until then, we can enjoy it. Pharand's work "illustrates and groups together the main agents that shape our planet, who literally engrave its surface-it is the anthroposphere, the human layer that grows inside the biosphere."
Pharand has gathered geographical data on cities, electricity transmission lines, communications wires, pipelines, roads—both with asphalt and ground— and railways from all over the world and put them together in this atlas. He calls his work impressionist because "these maps are unlabelled and silent, giving free rein to contemplation and imagination; impressionist also because they do not follow the canons of cartography, where scales and legend are mandatory."
So contemplate and marvel, my fellow human beings. This is the world we have created. [Globaia]