Human civilization has undoubtedly changed the surface of the planet on a massive scale. There will be evidence of our civilization’s impact for millions of years to come. This may not strike you as good news considering it implies we’ve altered the planet in a way only nature itself could have done.
The good news comes from the fact that the Anthropocene Working Group has reached the conclusion that we are indeed in this epoch. This means that geological research and theory has a new intellectual framework to better our understanding of the world and how we as a species interact with it.
“Like any geological boundary, it is not a perfect marker – levels of global radiation really rose in the early 1950s, as salvoes of bomb tests took place,” said Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, of the University of Leicester’s Department of Geology and chair of the Anthropocene Working Group.
“But it may be the optimal way to resolve the multiple lines of evidence on human-driven planetary change. Time – and much more discussion – will tell.”
The term ‘Anthropocene’ was first coined by Nobel Prize winning chemist Paul Crutzen who in 2000 suggested that man’s impact on the world was so substantial that we were no longer in the Holocene – the era which began at the end of the last Ice Age around 11,700 years ago and saw unprecedented human expansion and the emrgency of towns and cities.