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Canada's Crawford Lake chosen as 'golden spike' to mark proposed new epoch – CBC News

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Scientists have picked the bottom of Crawford Lake in Ontario as the “golden spike” to mark the start of a new proposed geological epoch — the Anthropocene. The announcement was made at a media conference in Berlin Tuesday by a group of scientists called the Anthropocene Working Group — more on them later. 

Here’s why the lake was chosen and what evidence it provides that humans have made such big changes to the Earth that we may be in a new geologic time period.

An aerial view of a pear-shaped lake surrounded by forest
Crawford Lake is unusually deep compared to its surface area. That gives it qualities that help it preserve climatic, ecological and environmental records. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

What’s an epoch? And why are scientists proposing a new one called the Anthropocene?

Geologists measure the history of the Earth using the geologic time scale (its official name is the International Chronostratigraphic Chart) — kind of like a calendar, except that it’s divided into much bigger divisions than days, weeks or months. 

For example, “periods” like the Jurassic and Cretaceous are tens of millions of years long and divided into epochs that are typically millions of years long.

Until now, our current epoch has been the Holocene, which started at the end of the last ice age 11,700 years ago.

But in many fields, including science, researchers and thinkers had already been discussing the huge impact humans have had on the Earth — including mass extinction and climate change, the kind of changes that typically mark the start and end of epochs. 

About two decades ago, Nobel prizing winning chemist Paul Crutzen popularized the idea that science should recognize that impact with a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, Prof. Jürgen Renn, director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, said at a news briefing about the new announcement.

“He said, ‘You know, we cannot say with all these changes that we are living still in the Holocene,'” Renn said. “It’s not just about climate change. It’s not just biodiversity loss. It’s not just the sediments that humans are moving. It’s all of this together.”

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He added that much of the ongoing change is effectively irreversible, such as the melting of glaciers around the world: “These changes that we have induced already will only unfold in the next decades and centuries.”

That said, the proposal that we’re in a new epoch has been controversial.

So where does Crawford Lake come in?

The International Commission on Stratigraphy, a group of geologists within the International Union of Geological Sciences, is the scientific body that officially decides when epochs begin and end. In 2009, it asked a group of geologists, paleontologists and other scientists, the Anthropocene Working Group, to look into whether there was enough scientific evidence to back up Crutzen’s proposal of a new epoch.

One of the group’s key jobs has been to identify and describe a “golden spike” marking the start of the new proposed epoch.

Crawford Lake was chosen among 12 “golden spike” candidates around the world after a series of votes by the Anthropocene Working Group.

Two people stand on the shore of a lake, framed by trees, with an interpretive sign in the foreground.
People look out on the water from the shore of Crawford Lake in Milton, Ont., on Friday, July 7, 2023. Scientists have picked the Canadian lake as the ‘golden spike’ to mark the start of a new proposed epoch, the Anthropocene. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

What exactly is a ‘golden spike?’

A “golden spike” is the ideal marker showing where one epoch ends and another begins — typically at a major global event such as a mass extinction or climatic shift. Such events are generally visible in the form of layered evidence like changing fossils in rock deposited over time.

Labeled images of Crawford Lake cores -- images and graphic by Krysten Serack-Lafond. The CL GSSP, or Golden Spike, is the sequence of varves centering around the year 1950. The distinctly light calcite layer at 1935 (Dust Bowl) is the 'reference' layer Team Crawford uses to date all other layers, above and below.
Layers in the sediment core from Crawford Lake show a distinct white layer in 1935 from dust storms during the Great Depression and accompanying droughts. The 1950 layer contains plutonium and is proposed as the start of the Anthropocene epoch. (Krysten Serack-Lafond)

As you might guess, “golden spike” is actually a nickname for a more technical scientific term: global boundary stratotype section and point (GSSP). 

The section is the series of layers (also called “strata”, which is what makes it a “stratotype” section) where there’s physical evidence of the big event (the point) that marks the end of one epoch and the start of the next. 

It’s chosen as a reference that can be used to compare evidence of that event in other parts of the world.

Where is Crawford Lake and what’s so special about it?

Crawford Lake is a relatively small lake about 60 kilometres west of Toronto. The lake is inside a conservation area that shares its name outside the town of Milton. It’s on the Niagara Escarpment, which is made of limestone rock. The rock forms a bowl that holds the lake.

The park has hiking trails, as well as a reconstructed 15th-century longhouse village. Archaeological excavations show several hundred Attawonderon or Wendat people lived near the lakeshore from the 13th to 15th centuries.

A wooden longhouse takes up most of the frame.
The park surrounding Crawford Lake has hiking trails, as well as a reconstructed 15th-century longhouse village. Archaeological excavations show several hundred Attawonderon or Wendat people lived near the lakeshore from the 13th to 15th centuries. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

The lake itself is less than 300 metres across at its widest point, but very deep for its size — 24 metres, meaning a seven- or eight-storey building sitting on the lake bottom would just barely break the surface.

Because of that, Crawford Lake is meromictic — that is, it’s a rare type of lake where the bottom layer of water doesn’t mix with upper layers. 

Francine McCarthy, an earth sciences professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., who has been studying the lake, said that means the bottom of the lake is “completely isolated from the rest of the planet, except for what gently sinks to the bottom and accumulates in sediment.”

There is also some handy chemistry happening in the water. Remember how it’s surrounded by limestone? The rock contains calcium and carbonate that dissolve in the water, but crystallize out in the surface waters when it gets warm — how much depends on that year’s climate. The crystals fall down as white layers that mark each summer like tree rings, covering the pollen, dead microorganisms, pollution particles and other debris that accumulate the rest of the year. 

Together they provide a record of the climate, environmental and ecological conditions each year. Because the shores of Crawford Lake were inhabited by humans hundreds of years ago, it also allowed scientists to compare human impacts then and now.

McCarthy and her team have drilled cylinders called sediment cores out of the bottom of the lake that preserve the annual layers so that they can be examined and tested in the lab.

A finger points to a spot on a striped cylinder
Francine McCarthy from Brock University points at the layer of sediment in a Crawford Lake mud core that shows the global plutonium spike from nuclear weapons testing that marks the beginning of the proposed Anthropocene epoch. (Mercury Films Inc./Nick de Pencier)

What’s the global event that’s been proposed to mark the start of the Anthropocene?

Originally, Crutzen had proposed the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century as the start of the Anthropocene.

But it turns out scientific evidence of the Industrial Revolution from that time is mostly only seen in Europe and not other parts of the world, said Colin Waters, honorary professor of geography, geology and the environment at the University of Leicester in the U.K. and chair of the Anthropocene Working Group.

Because of that, scientists began proposing that the start of the Anthropocene should be marked by evidence of nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s, such as radioactive plutonium, which is detectable worldwide.

“It’s a very clear marker,” Waters said. 

But it also coincides with increased burning of fossil fuels, use of industrial fertilizers and other human impacts that leave a clear scientific signal — together called “The Great Acceleration” by environmental historian John McNeill.

And so radioactive plutonium has been chosen as the marker for the start of the Anthropocene in the Crawford Lake sediment core.

A tray with glass jars with white lids marked with years 1948 and 1960
Samples from each year in the Crawford Lake sediment core sit in a tray, ready to be tested for plutonium. (University of Southampton)

Why is the Anthropocene epoch controversial?

Members of the Anthropocene Working Group themselves acknowledge that this isn’t a typical geological division. 

Typically, layers of rock and often fossils are used as markers between different periods of time, but in this case, rock hasn’t had time to be deposited. 

Renn said the “geology of the present” is a new challenge. “That’s very, very unusual.”

It’s not only that rocks haven’t had time to form, but also the materials and signals being measured and referenced, such as plutonium and microplastics, are very new and different from those of the past.

The mushroom cloud of the first test of a hydrogen bomb, "Ivy Mike" looms over the Pacific Ocean in 1952.
The mushroom cloud of the first test of a hydrogen bomb, Ivy Mike, looms over the Pacific Ocean in 1952. The plutonium is detectable all over the world, but isn’t one of the usual materials referenced in the geologic time scale. (Reuters)

But some researchers argue it’s just too soon to call this a new epoch. 

John-Paul Zonneveld, a professor at the University of Alberta and a member of the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature, acknowledged that humans have made big changes and left their permanent mark all over the Earth, but he said he feels “we’re in the middle of the event. We’re not in the new time stage yet.”

Joseph Deloges, a professor of geography and earth sciences at the University of Toronto who hasn’t been involved with the Anthropocene Working Group, has a similar perspective, and says it’s a challenge.

“Whatever you try and define in terms of the Anthropocene means it’s changing as you go along. And so some would argue that’s not what the nomenclature is set up for,” he said.

He added that while climate change has been quite dramatic, it may not yet match the scale events like asteroid impacts that have ushered in some other new time periods on the geologic timescale: “Some would argue we’re not quite there yet in terms of the catastrophe.”

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The Anthropocene is still just a proposal. What needs to happen for it to become an actual epoch?

The Anthropocene Working Group still needs to come up with an “auxiliary” GSSP out of eight other sites. Then the proposal needs to pass three more votes with a “supermajority” of more than 60 per cent, including one at the International Commission on Stratigraphy and a final one from the International Union of Geological Sciences. 

“It’s a very conservative process, you know,” said Waters, “and probably there’s good reason for that because you don’t want to establish the formalization of the unit if it’s not grounded on very strong evidence.”

He added that it’s also possible that the geological community will decide that the Anthropocene is simply a new stage within the Holocene epoch (after the Meghalayan, which started 4,200 years ago), and not a new epoch in itself.

In any case, the Anthropocene Working Group hopes a decision will be made in time for the International Geological Congress in Busan, Korea, in August 2024.

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Business

Show Employers You Can Hit the Ground Running

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Employers are increasingly stating: “We want someone who can hit the ground running.”

Essentially, the message is, “Don’t expect us to explain the basics. We expect you to know your sh*t.” Employers understand you’ll need time to learn their business, applications, software, infrastructure, etc. However, they expect that you’re proficient in Microsoft Office Suite software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), understand file management (creating, saving, and organizing files), and know how to troubleshoot common computer problems, and won’t be learning these basic computer skills as part of your learning curve on their dime.

Employers aren’t in the business of training people. You’re responsible for your career; therefore, you’re responsible for acquiring the skillset you need.

For an employee’s compensation to be justified, an ROI (return on investment) is required. When referring to employment, ROI refers to the value an employee brings to the company relative to their compensation. Employers pay their employees, and employees work for their wages. Employee work value is created when their work directly or indirectly results in profitably selling the company’s goods and services. Your best chance of job security (no guarantee) is to be an employee who undeniably contributes measurable value to your employer’s profitability.

(Employee’s measurable value to the company) – (Employer’s investment in compensation) = (ROI)

Understandably, employers are looking for candidates who can make an immediate impact, individuals who can jump right in, learn and adapt quickly, and start delivering results as soon as possible. Hence, you want to distinguish yourself as being capable and willing to “hit the ground running.”

Here are some tips to help you present yourself as a fast-starting, high-potential hire:

Emphasize relevant experience

Presenting irrelevant information will be perceived as lacking the ability to communicate succinctly, a highly valued skill in the business world. Only share experiences and quantified results (key), results that are pertinent to the position you’re applying for.

When crafting your resume and cover letter, identify the skills, knowledge, and previous responsibilities/quantified results that align with the job you’re aiming for. By demonstrating that you’ve “been there, done that” and brought measurable value to previous employers in a similar scenario, employers will feel confident that you can immediately deliver value.

Showcase transferable skills

Consider the universal soft skills that employers universally value.

  • Analytical
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal
  • Problem-solving
  • Project management
  • Time management

Tell STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) stories—describing a specific situation, the task you were assigned, the actions you took, and the results of your actions—that showcase your soft skills and explain how you can leverage them to succeed in the role you’re applying for. This’ll assure your interviewer you have the fundamental skills to achieve successful outcomes.

“While working at Norback, Jenkins, & St. Clair, I led a team of five architects to redesign a historic downtown Winnipeg landmark according to strict deadlines and complex stakeholder demands. I conducted Monday morning team meetings and used Slack to provide tailored updates to keep the team aligned. As a result of my communication skills, the project was completed on time and under the $7.5 million dollars budget.”

Discuss onboarding insights

A great way to position yourself as someone eager to hit the ground running is to show that you’ve considered what it’ll take to start delivering value.

“Based on my understanding of the typical onboarding timeline for this type of position, I anticipate completing all training and ramp-up activities within my first two weeks, enabling me to begin tackling projects by my first quarter.”

Assuming you’ve researched the company and studied current industry trends, which you should have done, mention the extra steps you’ve taken to prepare for the role. This’ll show your willingness to learn and will require minimal handholding.

Emphasize quick adaptability

Employers value the ability to adapt quickly to new situations and challenges. During your interviews, share examples of your flexibility and agility.

At some point in your career, you’ve likely had to learn something new (e.g., software, operating system) on the fly. Also likely, you’ve had to navigate a major change or disruption. Using STAR stories, explain how you approached these scenarios, your strategies, and the positive outcomes.

By showing resilience, resourcefulness, and adaptability, you demonstrate that you can thrive in ambiguous or rapidly evolving environments.

Propose a transition plan.

Presenting a transition plan is a strategy that wows employers, primarily because it is rare for a candidate to do this. This shows you’re ready to take ownership of your onboarding and deliver results.

Include specifics like:

  • Milestones you aim to accomplish in your first 30, 60, and 90 days.
  • Training activities or learning opportunities you’ll pursue.
  • Initial projects or tasks you’d tackle to demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Ways you’ll quickly build relationships with your new colleagues.

Showing this level of forethought and initiative shows you’re a strategic thinker, able to organize your thoughts, and, most importantly, eager to get started.

By touting your relevant experience, showcasing your transferable skills, discussing your onboarding insights, emphasizing your quick adaptability, and proposing a detailed transition plan, you’ll position yourself as a self-driven professional capable of driving results from the start, differentiating you from your competition.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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Karen Read back in court after murder case of Boston police officer boyfriend ended in mistrial

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BOSTON (AP) — Karen Read returns to court Monday for the first time since her murder case involving her Boston police officer boyfriend ended in a mistrial.

Read is accused of ramming into John O’Keefe with her SUV and leaving him for dead in a snowstorm in January 2022. Her two-month trial ended when jurors declared they were hopelessly deadlocked and a judge declared a mistrial on the fifth day of deliberations.

Jury deliberations during the trial are among the issues likely to be addressed.

In several motions, the defense contends four jurors have said the jury unanimously reached a not-guilty verdict on those two charges. The jurors reported being deadlocked only on the charge of manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and trying her again for murder would be unconstitutional double jeopardy, they said.

The defense also argues Judge Beverly Cannone abruptly announced the mistrial without questioning the jurors about where they stood on each of the three charges Read faced and without giving lawyers for either side a chance to comment.

Prosecutors described the defense request to drop charges of second-degree murder and leaving the scene of a deadly accident an “unsubstantiated but sensational post-trial claim” based on “hearsay, conjecture and legally inappropriate reliance as to the substance of jury deliberations.”

As they push against a retrial, the defense also wants the judge to hold a “post-verdict inquiry” and question all 12 jurors if necessary to establish the record they say should have been created before the mistrial was declared, showing jurors “unanimously acquitted the defendant of two of the three charges against her.”

After the mistrial, Cannone ordered the names of the jurors to not be released for 10 days. She extended that order indefinitely Thursday after one of the jurors filed a motion saying they feared for their own and their family’s safety if the names are made public. The order does not preclude a juror from coming forward and identifying themselves, but so far none have done so.

Prosecutors argued the defense was given a chance to respond and, after one note from the jury indicating it was deadlocked, told the court there had been sufficient time and advocated for the jury to be declared deadlocked. Prosecutors wanted deliberations to continue, which they did before a mistrial was declared the following day.

“Contrary to the representation made in the defendant’s motion and supporting affidavits, the defendant advocated for and consented to a mistrial, as she had adequate opportunities to object and instead remained silent which removes any double jeopardy bar to retrial,” prosecutors wrote in their motion.

Read, a former adjunct professor at Bentley College, had been out drinking with O’Keefe, a 16-year member of the Boston police who was found outside the Canton home of another Boston police officer. An autopsy found O’Keefe died of hypothermia and blunt force trauma.

The defense contended O’Keefe was killed inside the home after Read dropped him off and that those involved chose to frame her because she was a “convenient outsider.”

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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From Mansion to Moat: Drake’s Million Dollar Home Gets Soaked

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Toronto residents woke up to a soggy Wednesday morning after the city was pummeled by record-breaking rainfall on Tuesday. The downpour caused widespread flooding across the city, and even the opulent mansion of rap superstar Drake wasn’t spared.

 

Drake’s “Embassy” Flooded

Drake shared a video on his Instagram story showing the extent of the water damage at his Toronto mansion, nicknamed “The Embassy.” The sprawling 50,000-square-foot estate boasts an NBA-regulation basketball court and an art-deco theme, but on Tuesday, it was battling ankle-deep murky water flooding its halls.

The video shows Drake himself, clad in shorts and holding a broom, wading through the water. Someone else can be seen desperately trying to hold a large glass door shut as water surges in, presumably from a flooded patio or balcony.  Drake captioned the video with a touch of humor: “This better be espresso martini.”

The extent of the damage to the mansion remains unclear at this time.

 

Historic Rainfall Causes Citywide Flooding

The flooding at Drake’s mansion was just one symptom of the unprecedented rainfall that lashed Toronto on Tuesday. The city saw over 100 millimeters of rain in a single day, easily surpassing the average rainfall for the entire month of July (71.6 mm). This deluge makes it the fifth-wettest day ever recorded in Toronto’s history.

The heavy downpour overwhelmed the city’s drainage systems, leading to widespread flooding across neighborhoods. Emergency services were inundated with over 700 calls reporting flooded basements.  A major artery, the Don Valley Parkway, became an impassable waterway, with cars submerged almost entirely and some drivers forced to wait for rescue on the roofs of their vehicles.

 

Toronto Cleans Up After the Storm

As of Wednesday morning, the city is in cleanup mode.  Emergency crews are working to clear debris and assess the damage caused by the floods.  The extent of the financial losses incurred by homeowners and businesses is still being determined.

While Drake’s mansion may have gotten an unwelcome soaking, the true story of this weather event lies in the impact it had on ordinary citizens across Toronto. The city is now focused on recovery efforts and ensuring the safety and well-being of its residents.

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