Defining the Anthropocene
Credit: rolffimages/BigStock Photo ID: 36514816

Defining Anthropocene's start proves challenging

Geologists debate the official start of the Anthropocene, a term describing human impact on the planet, amidst scientific disagreement on its epoch or event classification.

Richard Fisher reports for the BBC.


In short:

  • The Anthropocene's start date is disputed among scientists, with proposals ranging from early farming to the mid-20th century.
  • A recent vote against formalizing the Anthropocene's start as a specific epoch has sparked discussions, not dismissing the concept but questioning its classification.
  • Evidence includes nuclear fallout and microplastics, indicating profound human impacts on Earth's geology and atmosphere.

Key quote:

"We will continue to argue the case that the evidence for the Anthropocene as an epoch should be formalised."

— Colin Waters, chair of the Anthropocene Working Group

Why this matters:

Understanding the Anthropocene's start is important for framing humanity's environmental legacy and shaping policies to mitigate ongoing and future impacts on health and the environment. For further reading on straining planetary boundaries: The planet’s largest ecosystems could collapse faster than we thought.

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