Quick Guide: The Anthropocene

| October 15, 2019 | Leave a Comment

Eroded landscape

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Media Type: Article - Recent

Date of Publication: October 7, 2019

Author(s): William Laurance

Journal: Current Biology

Categories: , , ,

What is the Anthropocene? If aliens should one day visit Earth, would they conclude that this planet suddenly went topsy-turvy at a time coincident with the rise of a particular species of hairless ape? How could they not see that something really, really dramatic happened, right about now? That is, in essence, the idea behind the Anthropocene era — the view that the changes presently wrought by humanity are so monumental they could rival epic natural events such as ice ages, tectonic shifts, volcanic upheavals and possibly even killer asteroids that have profoundly altered our planet and its biodiversity time and again during the past few billion years and consequently were used as landmarks for new geological epochs.

The term ‘Anthropocene’ (from Greek: anthropos, for ‘human’, and cene, connoting ‘new’ or ‘recent’) was popularized by atmospheric chemist and Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen, but it was used by Soviet Union scientists already in the 1960s. The Anthropocene is not yet formally recognized as a new geological epoch. But the idea is being seriously considered by stratigraphers and other geological authorities that make such decisions.

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