Some years back my art teacher told me that Chicago used to have tropical weather and I laughed thinking she was just making fun of me for complaining about the cold. Then, about a month ago, I had the chance to visit Camp Sagawau and learn about the history of Chicago in terms of geology. About two million years ago, during the ice age, glaciers came down four times over the Chicago area. Due to the Law of Superposition, the last glacier bulldozing through old rock made way for the only canyon found in Chicago. Similar to a conveyor belt, water would travel under and over this glacier, picking up and dropping off water that would later become what we know of today as Lake Michigan. In fact, the water used to extend so far inland that Chicago actually rests on the flat plains that were once the bottom of Lake Chicago. Lake Michigan extended west 30 miles further than it does today and was 60FT deeper than it is today, 400 years ago!
I was impressed to learn all this and then to get to stand inside of this canyon in the morning after a heavy rainstorm was even more impressive. The canyon’s walls are made of dolomite, which I have learned is a very strong rock that a bulldozer is unable to cut through while water and very low temperatures can. I always think it is awesome to read or hear about things that happened in history.
However, learning of the future that we have built for ourselves is nothing to look back at fondly. It is rather frightening to even have thoughts such as, “WHEN is this supposed to start? I BETTER not be alive by then. There is no way I would ever think of raising a family, NOW…” I am talking about the new era in Earth’s geological history Anthropocene of which the geological force has been the human species. Dun, dun, dun… We have already gotten a taste of what life in this new era shall be like. Even in Chicago we have already been experiencing some of the biggest rainstorms recorded over a short period of time. Water levels are supposed to continue to rise as are water levels. These conditions will then impact our industries on which we thrive on and thus make it even more critical that we have access to what we need, locally. We are no longer waiting for global warming to heat, it has already begun and it is not going to wait on anyone. This article “Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene” by Roy Scranton, is just another scary, urging wake-up call that we need to act now and fast. We now have to learn to live in it.
It really is terrifying to think about the future we are currently heading towards. One cannot go around truly living while having these facts running through their mind all day long. However, we can all make it a goal to do our part each day and especially spread the word to others about how we can help ensure that we don’t truly disintegrate what we take for granted daily.