The Anthropocene’s Birthday, or the Birth-Year of Human-Accelerated Climate Change

Scientists have found a major spike in the amount of Carbon-14 within the tree rings of “The Loneliest Tree In The World,” which ring corresponds to October-December 1965.

This tree is a Sitka Spruce, a species from the American Northwest (and into Canada) that was planted on Campbell Island in 1901 (or 1905), which island is in the Southern Ocean about 400 miles south of the southern tip of New Zealand.

There are no other trees on Campbell Island, just low scrubs. Since the next landmass south of Campbell Island is Antarctica, this tree is the furthest one south on Earth (so far as I can tell). The next closest tree is north about 170 miles, on another small island south of New Zealand.

The significance of this finding is that geologists now know that the start of the Anthropocene – which is the geological period when GLOBAL (not just local) climate is clearly being influenced by human activity and at an accelerating rate – began in 1965.

The Carbon-14 marker is from the radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear bomb testing, which grew from 1945 and peaked in 1962, after which it stopped (except for a few isolated atmospheric tests since) in 1963 as a result of the Test Ban treaty of that year.

The accumulated radioactive fallout from the massive testing of the 1950s and early 1960s (with a huge amount in 1962) had finally spread out uniformly through the global atmosphere, and the Carbon-14 from that fallout was being infused into trees globally through the process of photosynthesis.

So, this spike in tree-ring Carbon-14 in 1965 is a GLOBAL marker of human activity on global climate, and thus is the birthday of human-induced/accelerated Climate Change.

Coring “the loneliest tree in the world”

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Manuel Garcia, Jr, once a physicist, is now a lazy househusband who writes out his analyses of physical or societal problems or interactions. He can be reached at mangogarcia@att.net

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