The Human Age: The World That Shape Us

Diane Ackerman talks about the natural world- the one we have lived in for several decades. Dramatic transformations have shaped, and continue to alter our society, our relationship with nature and our prospects for the future (Ackerman 23).  She emphasizes on our role in the world, the fact that we are the determiners of our destiny. Our actions every day is what influences the conditions of the world.  She likens the human species to an intelligent, headstrong, impulsive teenager who leaves behind a very messy room, rushing to college to learn a lot of cool sciences, save the planet, then settle down and become a responsible adult. “We have tattooed the planet with our doings.” (Ackerman n.p) Human beings are the intelligent creatures, dominating the world, and making it a worthy place to live in. The developments that are accompanying man’s activities on earth are evident.

The world has sprung to a level that everyone sees and applauses human beings’ contribution in bringing the earth to a position that was always a dream. Human beings occupy the most significant space on earth. Up to seventy-five percent of the entire world is human population. “Humans have subdued 75 percent of the land surface, the concocted wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” (Ackerman n.p)  Currently, we collect the DNA of species that are vanishing in a frozen ark, equip with iPads, create wearable technologies and synthetic species that may outsmart us in the future. The world was a total mess long before human beings subdued it. There was no revolution of any kind, be it industries, schools, medical facilities, electricity, or religion. As soon as man discovered the importance of these elements of survival, they changed the world by modeling it, with their primary motivation being to achieve the best out of the world.

We as human beings utilize every opportunity on earth, for instance, equipping it with the animals of our choice, cultivating our preferred plant species, carrying out activities that interest us- some of these are invasive as they come back to us. As such, the author uses this fact to elucidate the invasive capacity of man. She uses technology developed by humans such as video games to depict their adverse effects to our children. “Who knew that the shift from children playing outside to indoors hunched over screens might be triggering an epidemic of myopia, as studies of young people in Shanghai and Seoul reveal that 95 percent are nearsighted?” (Ackerman n.p) According to the author’s arguments, our actions on earth have even changed the natural climate, this fact at some point threaten our existence in the world. Our natural environment is soon going to be extinct, depending on the activities we carry out in the event of subduing the earth. We are influenced by physical landscapes and will always be. Even as we create the larger cities, fundamentally, our developments change the nature o the world around us. According to our narrator, we as human beings have brains that are not settled for one thing.

One action leads to the other. We always want another thing even before we are done with the current one. These efforts have consequences applicable to the world surrounding us. Notably, the several activities we undertake as we increase in number, in the event of changing the world have both positive and negative implications. “We are an ever increasing population of nomads with restless minds.” (Ackerman n.p) It is evident from the author’s concern in the fields such as evolutionary robotics, urban design, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, and biomimicry.

We are the most active contributors to a whole new world. “Humans have become powerful agents of planetary change.” (Ackerman n.p) The weather pattern is no longer the same, bearing in mind that it fluctuates every time. Global warming that cannot be reversed comes in also as a result of human activities on earth.  We have decisively changed the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle and the rate of extinction; hence, creating new atomic isotopes and plastiglomerates that are likely going to persist for years. The animals migrating patterns show an evidence of the effects of these human actions. They are moving to find a better or more natural environment, which can sustain their existence.

The Human Age is transforming our cities from grimy energy guzzlers into dynamic ecosystems.” (Ackerman n.p) The author considers efforts motivated by equal parts wonder and worry as she looks at the anthropogenic climate and how it affects other animals. Together, our scientific and technological progress from the industrial revolution and the first important fossil-fuel production diminishes due to the danger we have caused. “The world is being ravaged by record heat, drought, and floods.” (Ackerman n.p) The birds’ biological clocks tick faster in the cities than in the country, and coyotes are likely to roam these cities, looking for food as we encroach more and more on their natural habitat. The push for green policies to protect animals is what the narrator focuses on.

However, there are real scientific revolutions as a result of these human activities. Hope comes in from the geologists studying the fossilized record of the age of human-ecological impact, creating bioengineered bodies. It is on a quest to reconcile nature and man to a much higher degree. We also learn about the rooftop farming, innovations in climate farming and the urban-landscaped oasis of Manhattan’s High Line. We also see the attempt to harness body heat to wind energy by humans, the Europeans specifically. The narrator is giving us a top-notch insight on the modern human condition.

We are the sole contributors of the face of our world up to date. As we look at anything around us and smile, it is ultimately the work of our hands. As human beings subdued the earth, its environment changed rapidly. As our author sees the universe from the space, she marvels at the human contributions. “We do not intend our cities to be so beautiful from space. They are humanity’s fingerprints on the planet, the chrome-yellow energy that flows through the city veins.”  (Ackerman n.p) Anyone looking at the earth from the space smiles at how the world has developed- cities, nice settlements along the coast and roads that are well lit that one cannot miss their destinations, however new. “So that even without a map, the outlines of the continent loom and you can spot the meandering rivers.” (Ackerman n.p)

As human beings, we are innovators. In particular, we come up with things that surpass imagination- things that when one sees, appreciates the existence of human beings and their efforts in changing the world. “Our shimmering cities tell us that the Earth’s inhabitants are thinkers, builders, and rearrangers who like to bunch together in hive like settlements, and for some reason bad night vision, primal fear, sheer vanity, to scare predators, or as a form of group adornment. We bedeck them all with garlands of light.” (Ackerman n.p)  She praises how the earth has risen from darkness to a whole lot of excellent lighting all over the universe, which illuminates everything. “Ours is the only planet in our solar system that glitters at night. Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and for eons the nighttime planet was dark. In a little over two hundred years, we’ve wired up the world and turned on the lights, as if we signed the planet in luminous ink.”  (Ackerman n.p) Civilization was not removed from any other natural thing; we are the pioneers of every aspect of it.

Our author emphasizes that we are the beings of life that started to exist the same way that every other creature did. The development of human techniques is what has secluded us from natural surroundings, for example, the coming up of urban centers.

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