Weekly Photo Challenge: Time

Time is an integral part of almost everything that we experience in our lives today. Almost everything that we do takes into consideration the time factor, whether it be the time taken to accomplish the task, or the time at which the task is expected to begin, or where it should end.  The modern world also has an insatiable need to be as efficient as possible with regards to how time is spent.  We always seem to be in a hurry.

Perhaps it is useful to understand/recognize that the pervasiveness of the “time-factor” in human experience is something that has changed over history, and that time was not this important in times past.   (Some of you may already know the interesting story of the role played by the railroads in establishing time zones.)  These days the concept of time has been taken to its limits, with even fractions of seconds becoming significant in our experiences.  Athletic events are judged and winners determined by time differences that lie in the order of 100ths of seconds.  The timing of signals in the electronics that we all use today is at the nanosecond level.

I cannot help feeling that the human entanglement with the concept of time is at an unhealthy extreme today, and that this is perhaps the result of the advancement of technology and also what we call progress.  The way we interact with time today forms the basis of our continued existence as a civilization.  There is no escaping it.  (As an aside, it is interesting to note that physicists today are not even sure whether time exists at the most fundamental level of physical reality.)

But if we step back and and look at time from a more philosophical perspective, we can go in so many different directions with the theme!  Time may sometimes be defined by a state of mind.

The atmosphere in the pictures below gives me a feeling of time slowing down.

The pictures below make me think about the impact of the passage of time on the lives of people.  What happened to these people?  Why did they abandon these homes and did they go to a better place?

The pictures below remind me of the damage caused by humans to the planet over time.

Finally, time is topic covered in a lot of music.  Here is an oldie that I still enjoy listening to.

The Anthropocene Epoch

The geological time-scale of Planet Earth is classified at the highest level in supereons,  the first of which was the Precambrian.   The supereons break down into eons, then further into eras, periods, and finally epochs.  We live in the Phanerozoic eon of a post-precambrian supereon (that apparently does not have an official name for it today).  According to the experts, we are officially in the Holocene epoch, which began about 11,700 years ago after the last major ice age.  (Interestingly enough, this period of time only represents less than a millionth of the history of the earth.)

Recently, the argument has been raised that we should consider ourselves to be in a new new epoch after the Holocene. This epoch should represent the period of time when the impact of human beings on the earth has become significant and non-reversible.  In the past, epochs were broken down based on times of geological change, but the argument is now being made that one should also consider environmental impacts.  Regarding human beings, these changes probably began to accelerate with the coming of the Industrial Revolution, and the rate of change has only increased since then.  While there is probably no exact moment in time that can be pinpointed as a “turning point”, it is clear that we now cannot turn back our impact on the planet.  (I have argued in the past that all changes take place over some period of time even if some of these changes seem to be instantaneous within the time-frames that we are familiar with.)

Even though it is not officially recognized, people are calling the current period of time in the earth’s history the Anthropocene epoch.

Here is an online presence for an organization dedicated to this concept.

Even the Smithsonian is modifying its exhibition space to devote resources to talking about the human impacts on the earth.

A fundamental theme in the consideration of the existence of a new epoch is that humans have finally managed to change the nature of the planet to the extent that  we cannot ignore our environmental impacts.  The destruction caused is irreversible.   It is a sad consequence of our progress, of our knowledge and technology, of our “civilization”.  What will the post-Anthropocene epoch look like when all is said and done?   Or perhaps we will all be destroyed by some cosmic event that we have no control over and none of this will matter in the long run.  I suppose the post-Anthropocene epoch could still happen due to other reasons.

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/land-pollution.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soil_contamination

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/waterpollution.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_pollution

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/air-pollution-introduction.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_pollution

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch