, 2010). However, many geologists have argued from the perspective of their own subdiscipline that uniformitarian approaches are relevant and that ‘the present is the key to the past’ (e.g., Windley, 1993, Retallack, 1998 and Racki and Cordey, 2000). A more nuanced view is that ‘the basic physical laws appear to apply to all of geologic time as well as the present’ (Garner, 1974, pp. 41–42). As such, it is useful to distinguish www.selleckchem.com/products/ly2109761.html between ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ interpretations of uniformitarianism (Balashov, 1994). ‘Strong’ uniformitarianism refers to the application of the classical Principle of Uniformitarianism, as outlined above
(see Table 1). ‘Weak’ uniformitarianism (lowercase letter u) refers to the methodological and interpretive approach undertaken in many studies GDC-0449 mouse in physical geography, geomorphology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, whereby understanding of processes and environments in the past (or present) are informed by those of the present (or past). Such disconnected, circular reasoning is common in all types of palaeo studies (Edwards et al., 2007), and is the context in which we consider uniformitarianism
in this paper. The changing dynamics of Earth systems in the Anthropocene, and the explicit involvement of human activity in Earth system processes and feedbacks in ways that have not been experienced throughout Earth’s previous history, mean that the applicability of the viewpoint that ‘the present is the key to the past’ should now be reviewed. The Anthropocene is now an era of post-normal science (Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1993 and Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1994), in which scientific uncertainty has increased and traditional modes of scientific reasoning have become increasing limited in their capacity to interpret the past based on observations from the present, and vice versa. In this paper we argue that geographic and geologic viewpoints of the Anthropocene Reverse transcriptase cannot be seen through the lens of past behaviour(s) of Earth systems. Instead, the Anthropocene
probably has no analogue in Earth’s geological past and thus neither the ‘natural laws’ expounded by Principle of Uniformitarianism nor reference to high-CO2 periods of the past can be used as guides to Earth system behaviour in the Anthropocene. Earth system behaviour can be measured as the functional relationship between forcing and response, including the magnitude of response relative to forcing, the time lag(s) involved, and any other associated system feedbacks. This relationship is described by the concept of geomorphological sensitivity, which is the equilibrium Earth system response to climate forcing (Knight and Harrison, 2013a). Geomorphological sensitivity is of relevance to evaluating the Principle of Uniformitarianism because it is a representation of the different ways in which the land surface responds to climate forcing.