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Did the Anthropocene epoch begin in 1950 ?

August 29, 2016 | Comment icon 9 comments



Are we living in a new epoch ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 NikoLang
Scientists now believe that the Holocene epoch may have come to a close several decades ago.
Beginning around 9,700 years ago and encompassing the growth and impact of the human race worldwide, the Holocene epoch may actually have been over as far back as 1950 according to a major new international study which suggests that we are now living in the Anthropocene epoch.

The designation of this new period in Earth's history is intended to take in to account the way in which humanity is now affecting the planet on a global scale with issues such as climate change having a far-reaching impact on the environment in countries all over the world.

"Human action has certainly left traces on the earth for thousands of years, if you know where to look," said palaeobiologist Professor Jan Zalasiewicz.
"The difference between that and what has happened in the last century or so is that the impact is global and taking place at pretty much the same time across the whole Earth."

It may take several more years however for this new time period to be officially recognized.

"Being able to pinpoint an interval of time is saying something about how we have had an incredible impact on the environment of our planet," said geologist Professor Colin Waters. "The concept of the Anthropocene manages to pull all these ideas of environmental change together."

Source: Telegraph | Comments (9)



Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 5 years ago
Yes, several more years until the new era is recognized and many millions of grant dollars to prove it.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Zalmoxis 5 years ago
It will take a long time to know for sure. I say perhaps. I think a mass extinction is underway right now.  
Comment icon #3 Posted by oldrover 5 years ago
In real terms, you could argue that this particular mass extinction has been going on for very long time. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by seeder 5 years ago
a bit like this topic    
Comment icon #5 Posted by Doug1029 5 years ago
All this really requires is somebody to select a type locality and find a distinct difference in two consecutive layers  at that locality, such that the higher one is indicative of human activity and the bottom one isn't.  Then he has to convince the rest of the geologic community.  Not much in the way of grant money required. Doug
Comment icon #6 Posted by Socks Junior 5 years ago
Not quite that simple on either the type section side (a great deal more must be done to distinguish an epoch than to find a type section) or the convincing the rest of the geologic community side. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by Doug1029 5 years ago
I over-simplified, of course.  But even so, this project isn't going to take all that much grant money. There are two ways to get grant money: 1.  Somebody wants to know something, so he hires you to find out.  It's called a grant, because in research there are no guarantees.  The money is provided for the study, independent of findings.  Grants can come from the govt, private individuals, companies, foundations, etc. 2.  You would like to study something, so you try to find somebody who will pay you to do it. The National Science Foundation requires a grant proposal of the same quality as the... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Socks Junior 5 years ago
I read someone from the working group estimating it'll take around 3-4 years to get all the approval to make it an official thing. Assuming they get all the approval along the way. Which they probably will. It's a neatly political epoch. NSF grants are of high quality, to be sure, but I wouldn't compare them to a finished paper in terms of quality. (I say that looking at successful ones vs. the papers they've generated.) A lot of it is good accounting, a good track record, and a good proposal. Which in itself is an oversimplification. To satisfactorily fulfill those three tenets is a helluva j... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Codenwarra 5 years ago
If they have to choose a particular year, 1950 is as good as any. I'm a baby boomer and was aware enough to notice that suddenly synthetic products appeared. Detergents, nylon shirts and dresses, polythene goods and so forth. Of course synthetics had been around since the late 1800s but the variety and quantity were not there.


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