According to some scientists, the world entered a completely new geological era called “Anthropocene”. And the reason is humans because we changed the world so much.

Now, a very good and detailed article written by the American science writer Peter Brannen and published on The Atlantic argues that so-called Anthropocene is not a new era, it’s just an “event” in the Earth’s history. It’s a long but good read.

Is Anthropocene a joke?
Did we, we, humans, change the world so much that now we can say the world entered a completely a new geological era? Perhaps not. Photo: the aerial view of Tokyo, Japan.

In a nutshell, Mr. Brannen suggests:

  • Geology typically deals with “mile-thick packages of rock stacked up over tens of millions of years”. Extremely precise rock dates can come with 50,000-year error bars, a span almost 10 times as long as all of recorded human history.
  • Yes, humans are changing the world so much. For example, we are pumping 10 times more carbon into the atmosphere than when there were palm trees in the Arctic. We are wiping out thousands of species (if not millions) each year. We are destroying the Earth’s wilderness. We are building very large cities and transforming the Earth’s surface.
  • But, “despite this incredible effort, all is vanity. Very little of our handiwork will survive the obliteration of the ages. If 100 million years can easily wear the Himalayas flat, what chance will San Francisco or New York have?”
  • In a few hundred thousand years, when the human race goes extinct, all these “scars” will be quickly devoured by the maw of deep time.
  • Geological time is deep beyond all comprehension. We call much larger timespans as “events”. There have been many similarly disruptive, rapid, and unusual episodes scattered throughout Earth history-wild climate fluctuations, dramatic sea-level rises and falls, global ocean-chemistry disasters, and biodiversity catastrophes. They appear as strange lines in the rock, but no one calls them epochs. Some reach the arbitrary threshold of “mass extinction,” but many have no name. Moreover, lasting only a few tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years in duration, they’re all considered events.

I strongly recommend you to read Mr. Brannen’s article.

Sources

Study: The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene on ScienceMag.com
The Anthropocene Is a Joke: on geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch on The Atlantic

M. Özgür Nevres

I am a software developer, a former road racing cyclist, and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about the planet Earth and science on this website, ourplnt.com. You can check out my social media profiles by clicking on their icons.

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