PLANET Earth has entered a new geological epoch as a direct consequence of humanity’s activities across land, sea and sky, according to a new study published on January 7.
An international team of scientists has mounted a powerful case that the combined human impact on the environment has now led us into the ‘anthropocene’ era.
Dr Colin Waters, of the British Geological Survey, and an author of the study said “We could be looking here at a step-change from one world to another that justifies being called an epoch,”
“What this paper does is to say the changes are as big as those that happened at the end of the last ice age. This is a big deal.”
The current period, known as the Holocene, began roughly 12,000 years ago with the advent of the agricultural revolution. Since then humans have wiped out millions of species, dumped countless billions of tonnes of plastic into the oceans, dramatically affect CO2 and methane concentrations in the atmosphere, destroyed most of the world’s wild land, and spread traces of rare isotopes from nuclear testing.
All of these factors combined mark a division between the Holocene and the current era that is more severe than that between previous geological epochs.
Later this year the International Committee on Stratigraphy (ICS) will vote on the paper’s proposal to officially determine whether we are in the Anthropocene.
Whether that will have any impact of man’s relationship with nature remains to be seen.