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Still Waters

Have humans created a new geological age?

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Still Waters
Over the last 11,700 years - an epoch that geologists call the Holocene - climate has remained remarkably stable.

This allowed humans to plan ahead, inventing agriculture, cities, communication networks and new forms of energy.

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. Yet some experts say that defining this "human age" is much more than about understanding our place in history. Instead, our whole future may depend on it.

The term, the Anthropocene, was coined over a decade ago by Nobel Laureate chemist, Paul Crutzen.

Professor Crutzen recalls: "I was at a conference where someone said something about the Holocene. I suddenly thought this was wrong. The world has changed too much. No, we are in the Anthropocene. I just made up the word on the spur of the moment. Everyone was shocked. But it seems to have stuck."

But is Professor Crutzen correct? Has the Earth really flipped into a new geological epoch - and if so, why is this important?

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lp21why

This has been doing the rounds for years; geological periods are usually defined by particular factors that are found within them - i.e. Holocene is the time since the last Glacial period, the Pleistocene is the time stretching from the last Glacial period to the first of a series a Glaciations.

As we are a major factor effecting our environment it is entirely reasonable to suggest we have entered a new epoch. If people in a few hundred thousand or millions of years looked back through the geological strata they would find sediments that are full of our artefacts and evidence of our existence (there is even evidence of atomic bomb tests in lake sediments, they use evidence of the Caesium fallout for dating).

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TheMcGuffin

If it is a new era, it's looking like a very unpleasant one.

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:PsYKoTiC:BeHAvIoR:

If it is a new era, it's looking like a very unpleasant one.

With no signs of improvement either.

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marcos anthony toledo

Well another fine mess we gotten ourselves into because of our short sighted arrogance wonder how we will get ourselves out of this problem of our own making.

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Wickian

Meh, things aren't looking that bad for us. So long as we can get our population growth under control in the next 50-100 years or so we should be fine. Nothing short of an end-of-the-world like event is going to wipe our race out at this point.

I agree that we have probably changed the geological face of the Earth enough to warrant the creation of a new epoch(I love that word and I almost never get to use it in conversation).

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Paracelse

Meh, things aren't looking that bad for us. So long as we can get our population growth under control in the next 50-100 years or so we should be fine. Nothing short of an end-of-the-world like event is going to wipe our race out at this point.

I agree that we have probably changed the geological face of the Earth enough to warrant the creation of a new epoch(I love that word and I almost never get to use it in conversation).

In most countries, population control is a sin (I didn't want to write in all countries)(just in case there would be one who wanted to sue me) (plausible deniability)

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Taut

The title would be an example of a rhetorical question.

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danielost

In most countries, population control is a sin (I didn't want to write in all countries)(just in case there would be one who wanted to sue me) (plausible deniability)

there is only one country with pop. control and that is china.

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danielost

the earth is heading toward a new ice age. but to say that man did this is really giving credit to the wrong thing.

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lp21why

the earth is heading toward a new ice age. but to say that man did this is really giving credit to the wrong thing.

Not for a while, we have at least a few thousand years before another glaciation and some argue that we have another 16kyrs. Interglacials tend to last around 20 - 30kyrs and we have only been in ours 14.5kyrs. And no one is suggesting humans are causing another glacial period, simply that we have altered our planet drastically.

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Von Bismarck

Not for a while, we have at least a few thousand years before another glaciation and some argue that we have another 16kyrs. Interglacials tend to last around 20 - 30kyrs and we have only been in ours 14.5kyrs. And no one is suggesting humans are causing another glacial period, simply that we have altered our planet drastically.

Interglacial periods, usually last between 15,000 and 20,000 years.

Our current interglacial period for about 18,000 years giving us roughly 2,000 to go before the next deep freeze.

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lp21why

Interglacial periods, usually last between 15,000 and 20,000 years.

Our current interglacial period for about 18,000 years giving us roughly 2,000 to go before the next deep freeze.

The Ipswichian lasted around 15k to 20k, but if you look at the Hoxnian stage that lasted around 50kyrs. It is dependant on the stages at which each orbital cycle is at, and it has been argued the stage that our current interglacial is most similar to is the Hoxnian which occurs at the MIS 11 stage. That would indicate we are set for interglacial conditions for a while yet.

The Holocene has lasted 14.5kyrs so far, not 18kyrs. The Last Glacial Maximum was between 25k-19kyrs, the ending of which does not equate to the beginning of an interglacial.

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Von Bismarck

The Holocene has lasted 14.5kyrs so far, not 18kyrs. The Last Glacial Maximum was between 25k-19kyrs, the ending of which does not equate to the beginning of an interglacial.

HAHA none of us was* right. But you were the closest

http://folk.uib.no/ngljm/PDF_files/GULLIKSEN98.PDF

*edit - spelling

Edited by BigfootBuster

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Von Bismarck

The Ipswichian lasted around 15k to 20k, but if you look at the Hoxnian stage that lasted around 50kyrs.

Yes you are right, that the Hoxnian stage lasted around 50kyrs. But there is some evidence that the Hoxnian stage may represent more than one interglacial period.

If you look at the last 3 interglacial periods, you will see they last roughly around 20 kyrs.

http://www.daycreek.com/dc/images/1999.pdf

http://www.enotes.com/arch-encyclopedia/hoxnian-stage

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748712/

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lp21why

Yes you are right, that the Hoxnian stage lasted around 50kyrs. But there is some evidence that the Hoxnian stage may represent more than one interglacial period.

If you look at the last 3 interglacial periods, you will see they last roughly around 20 kyrs.

http://www.daycreek.com/dc/images/1999.pdf

http://www.enotes.com/arch-encyclopedia/hoxnian-stage

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748712/

Agreed, but as I said it depends on the orbital cycles at play. The oxygen isotope record indicates that at the end of the Cromerian period, between MIS15 to 13 that it was likely a prolonged interglacial. Specifically as MIS14 probably was only a cool stage, as opposed to a full blown glacial period. Much of the confusion is based in semantics, and the fragmentary nature of deposits. Typically researchers attempt to link glacial and interglacial deposits directly to stages within the isotope stratigraphy, however we have many more different isotope stages than we do evidence for climate at the time.

Likewise the extent of the glacial periods is up for interpretation, recently a few researchers have argued for as many as 3 different glacial stages within sequences thought to be just one.

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Swamptick

Off all the conspiracy theories, human caused climate change is the one that has the most lemmings fooled. Follow the money people. Do research for yourself. A GEOLOGIST is not the best source for CLIMATE. I would rather trust the thousands of Meteorologist and Climatologists. Another fine example of a 'scientist' saying something and you all falling for it.

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lp21why

Off all the conspiracy theories, human caused climate change is the one that has the most lemmings fooled. Follow the money people. Do research for yourself. A GEOLOGIST is not the best source for CLIMATE. I would rather trust the thousands of Meteorologist and Climatologists. Another fine example of a 'scientist' saying something and you all falling for it.

Where do you think the analogues for future climate change come from? Sea level rise estimations, the effect of greenhouses gases on past environments, palaeo-oceanographic and atmospheric dynamics all come from geologists. Have a look at the CLIMAP and PRISM projects and do a bit of research.

Besides there is a Anthropogenic Climate Change thread, this is about something different.

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danielost

humans are the ones who have decided where and when each age started and ended. so if some scientist wants to declare a new age, let him.

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lp21why

humans are the ones who have decided where and when each age started and ended. so if some scientist wants to declare a new age, let him.

This isn't about a pedantic scientist that wants some sort of legacy. This is about building a framework of the Earth's geological history, without it the whole discipline will be chaotic.

This isn't entirely dissimilar to taxonomy, we are the ones who organise species and genera into seperate columns. We just make the distinction based on what we see.

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