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Scale and diversity of the physical technosphere: A geological perspective

Publication ,  Journal Article
Zalasiewicz, J; Williams, M; Waters, CN; Barnosky, AD; Palmesino, J; Rönnskog, AS; Edgeworth, M; Neal, C; Cearreta, A; Ellis, EC; Grinevald, J ...
Published in: Anthropocene Review
April 1, 2017

We assess the scale and extent of the physical technosphere, defined here as the summed material output of the contemporary human enterprise. It includes active urban, agricultural and marine components, used to sustain energy and material flow for current human life, and a growing residue layer, currently only in small part recycled back into the active component. Preliminary estimates suggest a technosphere mass of approximately 30 trillion tonnes (Tt), which helps support a human biomass that, despite recent growth, is ~5 orders of magnitude smaller. The physical technosphere includes a large, rapidly growing diversity of complex objects that are potential trace fossils or ‘technofossils’. If assessed on palaeontological criteria, technofossil diversity already exceeds known estimates of biological diversity as measured by richness, far exceeds recognized fossil diversity, and may exceed total biological diversity through Earth’s history. The rapid transformation of much of Earth’s surface mass into the technosphere and its myriad components underscores the novelty of the current planetary transformation.

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Published In

Anthropocene Review

DOI

EISSN

2053-020X

ISSN

2053-0196

Publication Date

April 1, 2017

Volume

4

Issue

1

Start / End Page

9 / 22

Related Subject Headings

  • 4407 Policy and administration
  • 4406 Human geography
  • 4104 Environmental management
  • 1605 Policy and Administration
  • 0502 Environmental Science and Management
  • 0301 Analytical Chemistry
 

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Zalasiewicz, J., Williams, M., Waters, C. N., Barnosky, A. D., Palmesino, J., Rönnskog, A. S., … Wolfe, A. P. (2017). Scale and diversity of the physical technosphere: A geological perspective. Anthropocene Review, 4(1), 9–22. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019616677743
Zalasiewicz, J., M. Williams, C. N. Waters, A. D. Barnosky, J. Palmesino, A. S. Rönnskog, M. Edgeworth, et al. “Scale and diversity of the physical technosphere: A geological perspective.” Anthropocene Review 4, no. 1 (April 1, 2017): 9–22. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019616677743.
Zalasiewicz J, Williams M, Waters CN, Barnosky AD, Palmesino J, Rönnskog AS, et al. Scale and diversity of the physical technosphere: A geological perspective. Anthropocene Review. 2017 Apr 1;4(1):9–22.
Zalasiewicz, J., et al. “Scale and diversity of the physical technosphere: A geological perspective.” Anthropocene Review, vol. 4, no. 1, Apr. 2017, pp. 9–22. Scopus, doi:10.1177/2053019616677743.
Zalasiewicz J, Williams M, Waters CN, Barnosky AD, Palmesino J, Rönnskog AS, Edgeworth M, Neal C, Cearreta A, Ellis EC, Grinevald J, Haff P, Ivar do Sul JA, Jeandel C, Leinfelder R, McNeill JR, Odada E, Oreskes N, Price SJ, Revkin A, Steffen W, Summerhayes C, Vidas D, Wing S, Wolfe AP. Scale and diversity of the physical technosphere: A geological perspective. Anthropocene Review. 2017 Apr 1;4(1):9–22.
Journal cover image

Published In

Anthropocene Review

DOI

EISSN

2053-020X

ISSN

2053-0196

Publication Date

April 1, 2017

Volume

4

Issue

1

Start / End Page

9 / 22

Related Subject Headings

  • 4407 Policy and administration
  • 4406 Human geography
  • 4104 Environmental management
  • 1605 Policy and Administration
  • 0502 Environmental Science and Management
  • 0301 Analytical Chemistry