the meaning of now

How do we understand where we are in time, now? Time is relative, and now is understood in relation to other times. We garden in time, and we are aware of our gardens changing over time, measured by days and weeks and the seasons of the year.
Another perspective on now is in relation to the really big picture, geological time. Geologists divide time into aeons, eras, periods and epochs lasting thousands and millions of years.
Until recently scientists regarded now as the Holocene epoch, a term derived from the Greek meaning whole and recent. The Holocene epoch is a ten thousand stable period of time between ice ages. It is characterized by warm clement weather enabling the widespread presence of flowering plants and mammals.
Today many people believe that we have moved into a new age, in which human activity is so powerful and significant that it changes the way the planet works and affects the future evolution of living species.
This new age is to be known as the Anthropocene, also derived from Greek, meaning ‘the recent age of man’. It represents a paradigm shift for the natural sciences. In the past science described a world in which people were merely observers. Now human influence can be detected in nearly all ecosystems, and it is not possible to understand the natural world in isolation from the social world.
We'd better come to terms with this. Because, like it or not, for better or worse, we are shaping our world.

Source of information: The Economist, May 28th 2011


  1. "...for better or worse, we are shaping our world - dam by dam, mine by mine, farm by farm, city by city, suburb by suburb..."

    How true this is. And I believe we are affecting the world adversely. In the past year we have had catastrophic weather, volcanic and seismic events which I wonder have been induced by man's abuse of the planet. Here in New Zealand we are in the middle of winter, yet it could be the start of autumn or the end of spring because it is so warm and sunny. Things aren't right with the planet, and I think we are leaving a poor legacy for our children.

  2. That's a pretty deep and sobering thought. I think I'll stick to the seasons in my garden:)

  3. Thanks to those who come up with new breed of plants that gives us better foliage, fruit and flowers to counter global warming. Without considering the pros and cons, they do maintain people's interest in growing greens. What we see today will be fossils of tomorrow. Now is tomorrow ;-)

  4. Wow Catmint, need to think long and hard about this one. I do so agree with you, what we do in our gardens does affect the planet, hence we do not use any chemicals of any sort and garden positively for the benefit of wildlife, which in turn benefits us with the bees pollinating our crops etc. I think we all have to live in harmony with one another or goodness knows where we will all end up!

  5. Fascinating that in no other epoch was man classified as significant. Obvious but I had not thought about it before.
    Sadly we are very efficient at messing things up and not learning from our mistakes. The fact that the planet will possibly have the last laugh is no consolation. We will be the the fossils for the next epoch.

  6. Dear Lynnifer, I just heard about the latest earthquake in Christchurch - so much instability, unpredictability, in the earth and our lives. Hope you are OK.

    Dear Tina, I know this is a sober post, but the human intelligence can be used for good as well as bad. So I still have hope ...

    Dear Stephanie and EG, it is interesting to think of us as tomorrow's fossils. What will future scientists make of ruined cities and crumbled McMansions?

    Hi Pauline, that is why I never use chemicals and try to construct a wildlife habitat. I think I know where we will all end up - as compost!

    cheers, catmint

  7. Your post gives me pause to think... we do have a responsibility to care for this beautiful earth. In my heart, I believe that we are stewards over the portion we are blessed to walk on and as such, should leave it better than we found it.

  8. I was walking to the car where my husband was waiting for me after I stayed late at school today and passed by a gingko tree. The gingko tree remind me of your previous post very much. June is so cold this year in Adelaide. It was much warmer previous years.

  9. Wonderful profound post...I have always espoused to leave my patch better than I found it...if we could all do that

  10. dear Carolyn, we are all trying to care for the earth, aren't we? It's hard when the dominant culture is about short term profit.

    Dear MK, the weather in Melb is colder and wetter than usual also. when I see a gingko I now think of the avenue of them in Japan that you wrote about.

    Dear Donna, I'm so pleased you liked the post.

    cheers, catmint


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