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What Future for the Anthropocene? A Biophysical Interpretation

Ugo Bardi ()
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Ugo Bardi: Università di Firenze

Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, 2016, vol. 1, issue 1, 1-7

Abstract: Abstract The Anthropocene is a proposed time subdivision of the earth’s history correlated with the strong perturbation of the ecosystem created by human activity. Much debate is ongoing about what date should be considered as the start of the Anthropocene, but much less on how it will evolve in the future and what are its ultimate limits. It is argued here that the phenomena currently defining the Anthropocene will rapidly decline and disappear in times of the order of one century as a result of the irreversible dispersal of the thermodynamic potentials associated with fossil carbon. However, it is possible that, in the future, the human economic system may catalyze the dissipation of solar energy in forms other than photosynthesis, e.g., using solid-state photovoltaic devices. In this case, a strong human influence on the ecosystem may persist for much longer times, but in forms very different than the present ones.

Keywords: Anthropocene; Dissipative systems; Limits to growth; Photosynthesis; Renewable energy; Photovoltaics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1007/s41247-016-0002-z

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