Introduction

Industrial growth proceeded at such a fast pace that in the second half of the eighteenth century it became globally important and resulted in what was called the industrial, or second technological, revolution. Approximately 100 years later, the use of new sources of raw materials and energy brought to life high-efficiency technologies of mass production to produce machine tools and consumption goods. In the later part of the twentieth century, scientific and technical progress stimulated development of high technologies and the advent of space, petrochemical, electronic, pharmaceutical, and other industries. Further progress has brought enormous achievements in the field of information technologies. The rates of dissemination of new technological achievements and economic growth were amazing. Unparalleled high rates of technological development led to a multifold increase in industrial production and consumption of energy resources. The gross world product increased from about US$ 60 million up to US$ 39.3 billion (more than 650 times) between 1900 and the end of the twentieth century. If it took several millennia for agriculture to win the world, then the industrial revolution became a global phenomenon within 1.5-2 centuries.

There were unprecedented rates achieved of burning fossil fuels that had been created by ancient biospheres during a long geological history. For the period from 1950 to 1998, the consumption of various kinds of fossil fuels, expressed in the oil equivalent, increased by 2.1 times for coal, 7.8 times for oil, and 11.8 times for natural gas. While per capita energy consumption was 4000 kcal in the Stone Age, it rose to 12 000 kcal d~ during the era of agricultural technologies, and reached 23 000-250 000 kcal at present. Technogenic interventions in the environment began to compete with many natural processes. Extraction of solid minerals and, hence, the massive impact on the lithosphere sharply increased. About 100 billion tons of raw material is excavated from the Earth's crust annually, or 151 per inhabitant of our planet.

Studies of ice cores taken from depths of glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland show that such rates of change in biogenic concentrations in the atmosphere did not happen for more than 150 000 years during the overall modern Holocene period.

Studies of carbon isotopes, C13 and C14, show that the growth in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere for the recent decades is connected with combustion of mineral fuels (Figure 1). Thus, a huge amount of carbon - up to 180 Gt - had been emitted in the atmosphere as a result of various forms of human land use since its establishment as a planetary phenomenon before 1980, while industrial emissions from the period of industrial revolution to 1980 contributed only 160 Gt of carbon. Thus, a share of land use in CO2 concentration changes in the atmosphere exceeds 50%.

However, if one compares anthropogenic contribution to the basic biogeochemical cycles, which constitute 'bio-sphera machina' (see more about it below), they do not appear to be too great. At the same time, we feel that there is something odd in our human environment, which leads; us to be concerned about a potential ecological crisis. What is the impact of a dominant anthroposphere on the ecosphere? Is harmonious coexistence of the anthro-posphere and the ecosphere possible?

Teragrams per year

1940

1960

1980

Figure 1 Natural (solid line) and anthropogenic (dashed line) nitrogen fluxes in the twentieth century. From Vitousek PM (1994) Beyond global warming: Ecology and global change. Ecology 75(7): 1861-1876.

Let us note that unlike such biosphere components as the atmosphere, biota, soils, hydrosphere, and stratosphere, each of which has had more or less clear spatial localization, the anthroposphere has lacked it and has always permeated the above media, even penetrating in the Earth's crust.

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