Whether it’s building cities, rail roads, or even power lines, our interconnected world has a heavy footprint on the rest of the environment. These mind-blowing renderings by the cartographers at Globaïa show the awe-inspiring power of human ingenuity.
We’re a very young species in geological terms. Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Homo sapiens didn’t show up until 2 million years ago. But in our short stint so far—and especially since the industrial revolution—humans have changed the planet’s ecosystem in profound ways. We’ve built sprawling megacities and transportation networks to connect them, altered the composition of the atmosphere and the ocean, and even—gulp—changed the climate.
Some scientists think this epoch of human influence deserves its own geologic name, like the Pliestocene or the Pliocene. In 2000, the Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen proposed calling it theAnthropocene. Next summer, the International Commission on Stratigraphy may make that label official.
Meanwhile, Globaïa, an educational organization that aims, among other things, to promote “a better understanding of big history,” recently created a series of stunning maps to help us all wrap our heads around what this era looks like. Globaïa calls the project “A Cartography of the Anthropocene.”