Coming of Age in the Anthropocene: Q&A with ChatGPT

Circular Cities 2030
11 min readFeb 23, 2023

Meet Liam, he will be 11 years old in 2030 — the year red-lined by Earth Scientists as the deadline for halving global greenhouse emissions from pre-industrial levels in an attempt to reach net-zero by 2050. Luckily, as grandparents we get to spend the day with him from time-to-time and we are loving every minute of our time spent together. He is an absolute joy to be around — smart, creative, kind-hearted, inquisitive in the garden, and excited to explore his world.

He is too young right now to talk about the side-effects of our industrialized society, externalities such as climate change, pollution, species extinction, and resource depletion, etc., however, these are the greatest challenges facing his generation.

Long after we are gone, the impacts of industrialized society will remain.

In our connected world of social media, it is easy to assume that as new parents and grandparents we are all concerned about the health and safety of the world our little ones will inherit. However, it is unfortunate that many of these concerns about the externalities of industrial pollution and climate change are just just that — assumptions. Given the evidence, we should all be united as guardians of future generations. However, this is not the case. While it’s true that we may not all share the same global view, some truths are universal.

Amid the challenges facing organized society, I must admit that finding peace of mind when contemplating the future landscapes that Liam and his generation will inherit is a struggle. While I maintain utopian in my outlook and strive to remain creatively optimistic when envisioning a future of prosperity that includes economic transformation and regeneration of natural landscapes, I am aware that this is not currently a trending reality.

And now with the added dimension of WWIII hanging over our heads, pressure is mounting. What are we going to do to ensure that the future Earth is a happy and healthy place for our loved ones?

Utilizing ChatGPT as an added voice in the room, the following content is a mixed release of questions, answers, and deep contemplation guided by a great love for the next generation:

[1] What are universal truths?

ChatGPT: Universal truths are concepts, principles, or beliefs that are considered to be true regardless of cultural, historical, or personal differences. They are ideas that are thought to be applicable to all people, at all times, and in all places.

Examples of universal truths include:

  1. The laws of physics: These laws govern the behavior of the natural world and are considered to be universal truths because they are thought to hold true in all parts of the universe.
  2. Human emotions: While the ways in which people express and experience emotions may vary across cultures, there are certain basic emotions that are thought to be universal, such as joy, sadness, anger, and fear.
  3. The value of human life: Across many cultures and religions, human life is considered to be valuable and worthy of protection.
  4. The impermanence of all things: Many spiritual and philosophical traditions hold that all things are impermanent and subject to change, including life itself.
  5. The existence of cause and effect: Many people believe that actions have consequences and that events are often the result of previous actions or events.

These are just a few examples of universal truths, and different people and cultures may have different beliefs about what constitutes a universal truth. Nonetheless, the idea of universal truths is an important concept in fields such as philosophy, religion, and science, as it helps people to understand the fundamental principles that underlie the world and human experience.

[2] When was the last time in Earth’s history that atmospheric co2 levels were as high as they are today?

ChatGPT: Based on geological evidence, it appears that the last time carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in Earth’s atmosphere were as high as they are today was during the Pliocene epoch, which occurred between 5.3 and 2.6 million years ago. During this time, atmospheric CO2 levels are estimated to have been between 350 and 450 parts per million (ppm), which is similar to the current level of atmospheric CO2, which has recently surpassed 415 ppm.

During the Pliocene epoch, global temperatures were about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial levels. Sea levels were also significantly higher, with estimates suggesting they were around 10 to 20 meters (33 to 66 feet) higher than they are today.

It’s worth noting that the rate at which atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing today is much faster than during any previous period in Earth’s history, due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. This rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 is contributing to climate change, which is causing a wide range of environmental and social impacts.

[3] If current emissions remain unchecked what is the projected atmospheric CO2 level for 2030?

ChatPGT: It’s difficult to provide an exact projection for atmospheric CO2 levels in 2030 because it depends on a number of factors, including economic growth, energy use, technological developments, and policy decisions. However, if current emissions remain unchecked, it is likely that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will continue to rise.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if global greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, it is likely that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will reach 450 parts per million (ppm) by 2030. This is significant because it is a threshold that scientists believe could result in global warming of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which is widely considered a dangerous level of warming that could cause significant environmental and social impacts.

It’s worth noting that the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and ideally to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve this goal, countries have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to work towards a low-carbon future. If these pledges are implemented effectively, it is possible to limit the rise in atmospheric CO2 and to reduce the impacts of climate change.

[4] What can this new generation coming of age in the Anthropocene Epoch expect to experience?

ChatGPT: “The Anthropocene is a term used to describe the current geological epoch, in which human activities have become the dominant force shaping the Earth’s environment and ecosystems. As such, coming of age in the Anthropocene will bring a range of challenges and opportunities that are unique to this historical moment. Here are a few things that individuals coming of age in the Anthropocene can expect:

  1. Increased awareness of environmental issues: With the impacts of climate change becoming more apparent and urgent, young people coming of age in the Anthropocene will likely be more aware of the need to take action to protect the environment and combat climate change.
  2. Greater focus on sustainability: As concerns about climate change and resource depletion become more pressing, individuals coming of age in the Anthropocene will be more likely to prioritize sustainability in their personal and professional lives, and to seek out careers and lifestyles that minimize their environmental impact.
  3. Growing social and political activism: Young people coming of age in the Anthropocene will be more likely to engage in social and political activism around environmental issues, advocating for policies and practices that support sustainable living and combat climate change.
  4. Technological innovation: As the challenges of the Anthropocene become more urgent, there will likely be a surge in technological innovation aimed at addressing environmental issues, such as renewable energy, carbon capture, and sustainable agriculture.
  5. Adaptation to changing environments: With the Earth’s climate and ecosystems already undergoing significant changes, individuals coming of age in the Anthropocene will need to adapt to a world that is increasingly shaped by human activities, including changes in weather patterns, shifts in ecosystems, and the loss of biodiversity.

Overall, coming of age in the Anthropocene will require a deep understanding of the complex interconnections between human activity and the natural world, and a willingness to take action to address the urgent environmental challenges of our time.

[5] Digging deeper: What steps are needed for the assurance that future generations will survive and thrive in the Anthropocene Epoch?

ChatGPT: Assuring that future generations will survive and thrive in the Anthropocene requires taking a long-term perspective and a comprehensive approach to environmental challenges. The question of survival in the Anthropocene is a complex and multifaceted one, as it depends on a number of factors, including our ability to mitigate the negative impacts of human activities, adapt to changing conditions, and foster more sustainable ways of living.

Here are a few points to consider:

  1. The scale of the challenge: The challenges we face in the Anthropocene are unprecedented in human history. We are facing rapid changes in climate, loss of biodiversity, and other environmental challenges that are complex and difficult to address.
  2. Our ability to respond: While the challenges we face are daunting, it is important to remember that humans are an adaptable species with a remarkable capacity to respond to challenges. We have made significant strides in addressing environmental problems in the past, such as the phase-out of ozone-depleting chemicals, and there are many examples of successful environmental conservation efforts around the world.
  3. The urgency of action: The key to survival in the Anthropocene is taking urgent action to address the environmental challenges we face. This means reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving biodiversity, and implementing sustainable practices in all aspects of human activity. The longer we delay action, the more difficult it will be to mitigate the worst impacts of the Anthropocene.
  4. The need for systemic change: Addressing the environmental challenges of the Anthropocene will require systemic change at all levels, from individual behavior to government policies and international agreements. This will require collective action and collaboration across all sectors of society.
  5. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: To ensure a stable and livable climate for future generations, it is essential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This can be done through a combination of policy measures, technological innovation, and changes in individual behavior. The goal should be to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  6. Investing in renewable energy: As fossil fuels are phased out, it is important to invest in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal. This will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also help to ensure a reliable and sustainable energy supply for future generations.
  7. Conserving and restoring ecosystems: Biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation are major threats to the survival and well-being of future generations. Conserving and restoring ecosystems can help to ensure a stable and resilient environment that supports human well-being.
  8. Promoting sustainable land use and agriculture: Land use and agriculture are major drivers of environmental change, but they can also be managed in ways that support sustainability and human well-being. Promoting sustainable land use and agriculture can help to ensure that future generations have access to healthy and productive ecosystems.
  9. Reducing waste and pollution: Waste and pollution contribute to environmental degradation and human health problems. Reducing waste and pollution through waste reduction, recycling, and other strategies can help to ensure a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations.
  10. Investing in education and awareness: Finally, ensuring that future generations are equipped to deal with the challenges of the Anthropocene requires investing in education and awareness-raising. This includes educating people about the importance of environmental sustainability and providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to address environmental challenges in their daily lives.

In summary, assuring that future generations will survive and thrive in the Anthropocene requires a comprehensive approach that addresses a range of environmental and social challenges. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, investing in renewable energy, conserving and restoring ecosystems, promoting sustainable land use and agriculture, reducing waste and pollution, and investing in education and awareness, we can work towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

[6] What steps can we take to persuade the status quo to begin addressing the externalities of industrial pollution?

ChatGPT: Persuading the status quo to begin addressing industrial pollution can be a challenging task, but there are a number of steps that can be taken to help promote action and create momentum for change. Here are a few strategies that can be effective:

  1. Educate and raise awareness: One of the most important steps in persuading the status quo is to educate people about the impacts of industrial pollution and raise awareness of the need for action. This can be done through a variety of means, including public campaigns, social media, and educational outreach programs.
  2. Mobilize public support: Building a strong base of public support for action on industrial pollution is another key strategy. This can involve organizing rallies and protests, reaching out to community leaders and influencers, and engaging with the media to help spread the message.
  3. Engage with decision-makers: Persuading the status quo also requires engaging with decision-makers who have the power to effect change. This can involve lobbying politicians and policymakers, engaging with industry leaders and business organizations, and working with regulatory agencies to help craft and enforce stronger environmental regulations.
  4. Develop and promote alternative solutions: In addition to highlighting the problem of industrial pollution, it is important to also promote alternative solutions and sustainable practices. This can involve showcasing examples of successful green technologies, promoting sustainable business practices, and advocating for public policies that incentivize sustainable practices.
  5. Collaborate with others: Collaboration and partnerships can also be a powerful tool in persuading the status quo. This can involve working with environmental groups, community organizations, and other stakeholders to build a broad coalition of support for action on industrial pollution.

Ultimately, persuading the status quo to begin addressing industrial pollution will require sustained effort and a multi-faceted approach that involves education, mobilization, engagement, and collaboration. By taking these steps, it is possible to create momentum for change and begin moving towards a more sustainable and equitable future.

Gateway Park

Let’s take a step back to the universal truths of human emotion: joy, sadness, anger, and fear. While the challenges we face are significant, there is reason to believe that we can rise to the challenge and create a more sustainable and resilient future. However, immediate action is needed.

Some of the greatest frustrations I have been experiencing these days as an evolving self-educated citizen of the modern age is in trying to communicate the concerns I am having for Earth’s future with friends, family, co-workers, and strangers. It’s almost as if people are disconnected to the thought of what comes next. Instead, most are interested in their own experiences in space and time — right here, right now. Content with chasing their dreams, striving to beat the illusions of the day-to-day mundane. Focused on making more money. Forever striving to make something happen that gives a sense of purpose and connection to the now.

I don’t know about you, but I have very little faith in our ability to ‘solve the problems of today using the same methods that created them. I am constantly trying to remind myself that as a species we have always found ourselves on that precipice of what can and cannot be — our only hope is will we fly?

Look mom I have wings!

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