Published on 27 Nov 2015 by Schumacher College
This video, created by our friend Juan Mata, shows Resident Ecologist Stephan Harding taking students on the Deep Time Walk from Little Dartmouth to Dartmouth on the South Devon coast near the college – as experienced by all participants on the Post Graduate Masters programmes, as well as by people on the many short courses that run at Schumacher College.
During the 4.6km walk (representing 4.6 billion (4,600 million) years of Earth’s history – each metre equating to one million years), Stephan describes how our planet evolved over this vast stretch of time, including the accretion of the Earth from a disc of rocky debris, the formation of the oceans and the atmosphere, the appearance of life (bacteria), then the first nucleated cells, and, eventually, multicellular organisms.After walking through deep time for nearly two hours, the group stop. The last 20cm of the walk are shown on a tape measure – representing the very brief span of time (200,000 years) that we, as Homo sapiens, have been resident on Earth. The end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago is represented by just the last 13mm. The industrial revolution happens in the last 1/5th of a millimetre. For many participants, the walk triggers a deep experience, in which, as scientist and mathematician John Playfair has said, “…the mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time.”The Deep Time Walk evokes a profound shift in perspective, helping us to feel our infinitesimal and yet vitally important place within deep time as we humans struggle to deal with our self-created crises of climate change, social disruption and the six mass extinction on our ancient planet.
The college is currently working with a team of people to create a Deep Time Walk app for iPhone, which will allow the Deep Time Walk to be experienced anywhere in the world. If you would like to find out more, please visit the project Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/deeptimewalk
For more about Schumacher College see the website
Other deep time walks with Stephen Harding
Starting at the the time when bacteria start to do amazing things – and the birth of climate, then lichens, then ideas of what might have happened next (phospherous in the oceans, the snowball earth, volcanoes, as series of snowball earths) and gradually to the end of the ice age, and then up to today….
Why this all matters