29 March 2010

Cenozoic part 2 - Quaternary


Beginning about 2.5 million years ago, the Pleistocene Epoch saw the flourishing and eventual demise of the Earth's last great megafauna, as well as the harsh "Icehouse Earth" climate conditions. The continents at last arrived into their modern locations. About 75,000 years ago the Lake Toba supervolcano erupted in an explosion thought to be the most colossal in the last 25 million years. The event was of such a magnitude that it created a 10-year "volcanic winter," and brought the now-anatomically modern human population to the verge of extinction (possibly as low as 1000 breeding pairs!). 12,000 years ago the Holocene Epoch began, where we now find ourselves. Exponential changes occurred, and in the tiniest blink of an eye, the world we live in today has been created.

Raise your arms to be perfectly straight and horizontal. Now imagine the earth's geologic timescale as beginning on the farthest tip of your left hand, and today, March 29 2010, as the farther tip of your right hand. A single pass with a fingernail file over your right hand's middle nail would eliminate human civilization entirely from this timeline ...

We’ve gone from nomadic hunters to being able to stream Netflix on an XBOX 360. Written history covers a remarkably short period of time and yet includes some face melting, head exploding advances. That’s not to say everyone has one to use, or even the electricity to power it, but as an example of human technology, you can’t help but think that in a very short period of time we have done some big things. If they can put a man on the moon…

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