The Age of the Earth
Adapted from Greenpeace, 1984
Planet Earth is 4,600 million years old. To convert this inconceivable length of time into a concept easier for our minds to handle, let’s imagine the earth to be a person 46 years of age. (Each year of this person’s life would represent 100 million years.)
We know nothing at all of the first 7 years of this lifetime, and have only very scanty information until the age of 42, when green plants began to spread across the earth. Dinosaurs and the great reptiles appeared only two years ago, when earth was 44.
We mammals arrived in the scene only eight months ago. It was middle of last week when simians resembling humans evolved into humans resembling simians. The last ‘Ice Age’ to envelop the earth took place – last weekend!
We, so called ‘modern’ human beings, have been around a mere four hours. During the last hour of those four hours, we discovered agriculture. Our famous Industrial Revolution began just one minute ago!
In these last 60 seconds of biological time, we have converted paradise into a garbage dump. We have caused the extinction of hundreds of species of animals and plants, pillaging the planet in our search for fuels, and now stand proudly admiring our rapid and spectacular ascent into ‘modernity’ and ‘progress’ … when in reality we are teetering on the brink of the last great mass extinction, and the destruction of this oasis of life in the solar system.
We begin our study of human ecology by assessing our individual personal relationships with ecosystems, both the positive and negative aspects of those connections. We are meeting in a place called KodKod, a private enterprise that strives to connect its business to ecological education and sustainability. We will work on sustainable construction projects and learn from designers of projects that draw awareness of the ecological footprints of human development.