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Matteo Colombo / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Robert M. Thorson

When Americans quote writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau, they often reach for his assertion that "In Wildness is the preservation of the world." This phrase elicited little response when Thoreau first read it during a lecture in 1851. A century later, however, it had become a guiding mantra for the American environmental movement, adopted by the Sierra Club as its motto and launched into the cultural stratosphere via bumper stickers, T-shirts and posters.

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"Log Booms #1". Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, 2016. Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Howard Greenberg and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

By Clara Chaisson

Anthropocene is a clunky word for an even more unwieldy concept. But props to the Merriam-Webster team who have given us a dictionary definition that's easy enough to follow.

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By Jessica Corbett

Underscoring the urgent need for increased and intensely focused conservation efforts, new research shows that human activity worldwide is wiping out plant and animal life—including our own—so rapidly that evolution can't keep up.

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"Easiest to see are the larger and most tangible of consequences – the horrifying prospects of global warming, climate chaos, habitat destruction, rising and acidifying seas, breakdown of civil order, war and … extinction." Beth Scupham / Flickr

By Elizabeth West

What can we do? We are without doubt in an historically unique and incredibly challenging position. The Anthropogenic extinction is here, now. It is not something we are anticipating or awaiting. It is upon us. Today, we are in it, watching the life we have known unravel on a hundred different fronts. And I find myself asking with crazy-making regularity: how can I—one ordinary human amongst 7.5 billion—honor this extraordinary time with whatever gifts and goods I happen to be carrying?

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Traditionally, we've labeled events over which we have no influence or control "acts of God" or "natural disasters." But what's "natural" about climate-induced disasters today? Scientists call the interval since the Industrial Revolution the "Anthropocene," a period when our species has become the major factor altering the biological, physical and chemical properties of the planet on a geological scale. Empowered by fossil fuel–driven technologies, a rapidly growing human population and an insatiable demand for constant growth in consumption and the global economy, our species is responsible for the calamitous consequences.

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C. Ciubotarescu

Deep inside the Apuseni Mountains you'll find the Scărișoara Ice Cave in Transylvania, the oldest cave glacier in the world. You'll also find some pretty incredible climate data from the last 10,000 years.

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Average carbon dioxide concentrations, Oct. 1 - Nov. 11, 2014, measured by the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite. Photo credit: NASA

In an effort to understand how climate change is altering the carbon cycle, a project between the University of Oklahoma and NASA is headed to space. Orbiting 22,000 miles above Earth's surface, this host of instruments will track carbon as it flows through the Earth delivering real-time data and helping scientists quantify just how much humans are affecting the planet.

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The planet, as we know it, has been given a deadline: 10 years. According to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, if humans don't reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically and maintain carbon sinks, like forests, then the results will be catastrophic for the climate. But the researchers have developed a model that they believe could do the trick.

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Photo credit: NASA

By Robin Scher

It is impossible to predict the future. What we can do is extrapolate a vision from our current body of scientific knowledge, mixed with a bit of good old-fashioned imagination. The result is a sort of trailer, which offers us a glimpse of what may be in store.

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"Regardless of alternative facts, fake news or scientific censorship, nature tells the truth." Photo credit: Beth Scupham / Flickr

By Nika Knight

As the Trump administration and Republicans in power in Congress set to work destroying environmental regulations, scientists have added urgency to the resistance with a simple new equation that shows the staggering effect human activity has had on the climate.

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By Nadia Prupis

Another day, another dire warning about the global climate emergency.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) top climate scientist announced Tuesday that the Earth is warming at a pace not seen in at least the past 1,000 years, making it "very unlikely" that global temperatures will stay below the 1.5 C limit agreed to in the landmark climate treaty negotiated in Paris last December.

Over the past century, temperatures began to rise at a rate that is 10 times faster than historical averages. Asian Development Bank / Flickr

"In the last 30 years, we've really moved into exceptional territory," Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the Guardian. "It's unprecedented in 1,000 years. There's no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination [of temperatures]."

"Maintaining temperatures below the 1.5 C guardrail requires significant and very rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions or coordinated geo-engineering," he continued, referring to controversial environmental manipulations. "That is very unlikely. We are not even yet making emissions cuts commensurate with keeping warming below 2 C."

The announcement comes amid a growing body of research—month after month after month—that shows 2016 is shaping up to be the warmest year in recorded history.

"It's the long-term trend we have to worry about though and there's no evidence it's going away and lots of reasons to think it's here to stay," Schmidt said. "There's no pause or hiatus in temperature increase. People who think this is over are viewing the world through rose-tinted spectacles. This is a chronic problem for society for the next 100 years."

Over the past century, temperatures began to rise at a rate that is 10 times faster than historical averages, according to research by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That means the Earth will warm up "at least" 20 times faster than historical average in the coming 100 years, NASA said.

This map represents global temperature anomalies averaged from 2008 through 2012. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

In fact, the Guardian notes, "a NASA reconstruction shows that the pace of temperature increase over recent decades outstrips anything that has occurred since the year 500."

Meanwhile, as Common Dreams reported Monday, a group of experts gathering at the International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa this week announced that human activities such as industrialization, nuclear bomb testing and increased greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming have so "profoundly altered the planet" that they have ushered in a new epoch—the Anthropocene.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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