A proposed geological epoch to mark the geological changes that have occurred due to human activities.
What is the Anthropocene?
John Spacey, updated on July 24, 2023
Anthropocene is a proposed geological epoch to mark recent changes to the planet. It is associated with the rise of technology that resulted in global shifts such as changes to the atmosphere, oceans, climate, ecosystems and landscapes. Proposed start dates include 1610 and 1964. The date 1610 is a low point in atmospheric carbon dioxide, after which it has climbed. The date 1964 is associated with a phenomena known as the great acceleration defined as an unambiguous time of major anthropogenic global environmental impacts. Officially we are in the Holocene epoch that began with the end of the last ice age around 9,700 BCE. The Holocene is a period marked by a large scale extinction caused by human hunting and other factors.The argument for a Anthropocene epoch is generally considered strong. Future geologists will be able to see clear evidence of the epoch with factors such as layers of plutonium isotopes from nuclear testing followed by plastic particles in ocean sediment. It will also be marked by changes in the fossil record due to extinctions. It is possible that the Anthropocene epoch will be extraordinarily short for one reason or another. For example, sustainability initiatives may cause the chemical composition of air, land and sea to revert back towards normal.
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ReferencesDefining the Anthropocene, Simon L. Lewis & Mark A. Maslin, March 2015, Nature.