Embracing the Anthropocene

There’s an idea that I’ve been tossing around in my head for quite some time, and I wanted to start laying the groundwork for putting into text. The gist of the idea is this: we’re probably too late to stop the worst of climate change. Therefore, does it not behoove us to at least consider how to make the most of the completely Anthropocene world we are creating?

Some things to consider:

  1. As global temperatures rise, very cold and barely habitable places like Siberia, Alaska, Greenland, Northern Canada, and Antarctica are going to become habitable. Colder habitable areas, e.g. New England, the Upper Midwest US, Northern Britain, Scandinavia, Hokkaido, Manchuria, Tierra del Fuego, and New Zealand will have “better” overall temperatures. Altogether, these are enormous areas (Canada and Siberia particularly). The biodiversity of arctic and semi-arctic areas is very small compared to more temperate areas – broadly speaking, more energy in an environment means more life –  and we need to investigate the possible upsides of cultivating these areas. The conversion of tundra to taiga, taiga to coniferous forest, and coniferous forest to temperate deciduous forest stands to be an enormous boon in some respects.
  2. The opening of sea lanes is going to be monumental. For centuries, explorers sought Northwest and Northeast passages from the Atlantic to the Pacific; those passages are becoming available. Ships are now beginning to ply the waters of the Arctic ocean, and soon will be a regular occurrence, shaving as much as 40% off of current routes through either the Panama or Suez Canals.This point has already received a great deal of attention, and many skeptics point to the fact that, e.g. trade between China and Norway is extremely small, or that ports of call are nonexistent along the Arctic coast. However, these estimations are making the fatal flaw of dealing with the situation as it stands, not as it may be a century hence. As natural resources beneath the arctic are exploited and shipping expands, new settlements and ports are bound to be founded, and the Arctic Ocean will likely in future decades be dotted with lights throughout its sunless winters.To this end, the Bering Strait may well be the Bosporus of the next Century, and the United States and Russia would likely both benefit from improving infrastructure at the strait, both port entrepot facilities and rail/road/pipeline connections.
  3. Higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations will mean faster plant growth. Already, the average color of the earth is becoming greener, and greater forestation in China and India are substantially to thank. Combined with the effects from point 1, there could end up being enormous booms of plant growth in the higher latitudes in coming decades.

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