We are in a new geological epoch defined by the permanent impact that humans have had on Earth.
A new epoch is defined following a cataclysmic event—like the asteroid that collided with Earth and led to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Such events significantly and permanently alter the underlying sedimentary and rock layers beneath the surface of the planet, resulting in visible, measurable changes.
An international, independent team of scientists, called the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), has now found enough evidence to support the official declaration of a new geological epoch. The group, comprised of scientists who were in favor of, as well as those who were against declaring a new epoch, reached a consensus in early 2018. While much debate ensued, we are now seeing concrete, publicly-available research corroborating the designation.
Scientists within the AWG and outside have determined that humans have left a permanent mark on the planet. The new geological layers we are creating are riddled with chemicals and industrial waste, pavement, plastic, nuclear fallout, everyday garbage, pesticide runoff and more. We’ve caused our sea levels to rise and our lakes and rivers to dry up, and extreme weather events are now a normal part of living on Earth.
The “Anthropocene” (anthro for “man,” and cene for “new”) describes a new geographic epoch. (Our previous epoch, which began 11,700 years ago just after the last ice age, was called the “Holocene.”) Being able to pinpoint an interval of time and the change it represents can help us set a different—and hopefully improved—trajectory for life on Earth.
Recognizing that humans have made a permanent, visible mark on the earth is the first step in studying the future implications for our planet.
Anthropocene Working Group, International Union of Geological Sciences, The Nature Conservancy, Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Geological Survey.
Advertising/Public Relations/Marketing, Aerospace, Agriculture, Airlines, Alternative Energy Production & Services, Architectural Services, Auditors, Auto Manufacturers, Biosciences, Builders/General Contractors, Chemical & Related Manufacturing, Civil Servants/Public Officials, Construction, CPG, Cruise Ships & Lines, Defense, Electric Utilities, Environment, Foreign & Defense Policy, Gas & Oil, Government - International, Government - National, Government - State and Local, Government Regulators, Heavy Industry, Information Technology, Infrastructure, Insurance, Lawyers/Law Firms/Legal Industry, Lobbyists, Manufacturing, National Security, Real Estate, Retail, Technology Company, Telecommunications, Trade Associations, Transportation, Travel Industry, Urban Planning, Utilities, Waste Management, Work (Future of)