Friday, June 16, 2017

The Metabolism of the Anthroposphere

We’re looking at a study here, where social network activity is measured, and in turn, used to predict the level of physical damage to a location (due, for example, to a natural weather disaster)

The main conclusion of the study was obtained when the data relating to social network activity was examined alongside data relating to both the levels of aid granted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and insurance claims: there is a correlation between the mean per capita of social network activity and economic damage per capita caused by these disasters in the areas where such activity occurs. In other words, both real and perceived threats, along with the economic effects of physical disasters, are directly observable through the strength and composition of the flow of messages from Twitter.

March 2016,

Image source: link


Other Network Address-ing on sociothermodynamics:

For the etymological origins of the anthropospher:
see Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere

And just in case you thought I made up this term, there is a book by the same title, very informative and an eye-opening read for anyone interested in what humans do:
The Metabolism of the Anthroposphere, 2nd ed. Peter Baccini and Paul H. Brunner. MIT, 2012.

Overview from the publisher’s website:
Over the last several thousand years of human life on Earth, agricultural settlements became urban cores, and these regional settlements became tightly connected through infrastructures transporting people, materials, and information. This global network of urban systems, including ecosystems, is the anthroposphere; the physical flows and stocks of matter and energy within it form its metabolism. This book offers an overview of the metabolism of the anthroposphere, with an emphasis on the design of metabolic systems. It takes a cultural historical perspective, supported with methodology from the natural sciences and engineering. The book will be of interest to scholars and practitioners in the fields of regional development, environmental protection, and material management. It will also be a resource for undergraduate and graduate students in industrial ecology, environmental engineering, and resource management.

The authors describe the characteristics of material stocks and flows of human settlements in space and time; introduce the method of material flow analysis (MFA) for metabolic studies; analyze regional metabolism and the material systems generated by basic activities; and offer four case studies of optimal metabolic system design: phosphorus management, urban mining, waste management, and mobility.

This second edition of an extremely influential book has been substantially revised and greatly expanded. Its new emphasis on design and resource utilization reflects recent debates and scholarship on sustainable development and climate change.


And for the speculative fiction novel about the anthroposphere, see here:
Mass Transference Device, 2012.

In this story, humanity is headed for an end point, like the Big Bang, but in reverse, and for humans only. Humanity can avoid this moment of absolute concentration (or do they only speed its advance) by replacing “themselves” in the world with their self-replicates, and then by themselves going backwards through the trajectory of progress. From that point on, humans “progress backwards”, becoming less and less reliant on technology and approaching the original collective consciousness we were all part of before we became individuals (which is not much different than the anthroposphere concept of our future, as presented in the story, only it would be happening in reverse).

This transition is especially difficult because humans, by approximately the year 2070 will have bred out of themselves the ability to live without their anthropospheric bubble. They need, somehow, to breed back into their race, the ability to live like they used to (in the days of the early 21st century).

It is the written thought of his ancestors that Hassam Flessihfo uses to help him make this backwards transition. Together with his partner he passes on his reformed “genes” to his son Samm Ashcroftt, who in turn becomes the first human born with the ability to survive in complete independence of the anthroposphere.

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