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Some geologists now believe that human activity has so irrevocably altered our planet that we have entered a new geological age. This proposed new epoch - dubbed the Anthropocene - is discussed at a major conference held at the Geological Society in London on Wednesday.
Dr Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester is one of the leading proponents of the Anthropocene theory. He told BBC News: "Simply put, our planet no longer functions in the way that it once did. Atmosphere, climate, oceans, ecosystems… they're all now operating outside Holocene norms. This strongly suggests we've crossed an epoch boundary."
Professor Steffen told the BBC: "A few years ago, I plotted graphs to track the growth of human society from 1800 to the present day. What I saw was quite unexpected - a remarkable speeding up after the Second World War". In that time, the human population has more than doubled to an astounding 6.9 billion. However, much more significantly, Professor Steffen believes, the global economy has increased ten-fold over the same period. "Population growth is not the big issue here. The real problem is that we're becoming wealthier and consuming exponentially more resources," he explained.
This insatiable consumption has placed enormous stresses on our planet. Writing in the prestigious journal Nature, Professor Steffen and colleagues recently identified nine "life support systems" essential for human life on Earth. They warned that two of these - climate and the nitrogen cycle - are in danger of failing, while a third - biodiversity - is already in meltdown.
The U.S. is reportedly building these bunkers so rapidly, and on such a large scale, that private contractors are unable to acquire materials to build bunkers for individual clients. In recent years we’ve also learned that the US government is one of, if not the largest buyer of survival foods like freeze dried foods and MRE’s for emergency preparedness deployment. We’ve also recently learned that Department of Homeland Security has committed to “regionalizing” supplies across 15 regional emergency supply warehouses, telling emergency officials to be prepared in 2011.