Are we now living in the Anthropocene?
Format: Magazine Article
Publication Year: 2008
Pages: 4 - 8
Source ID: shanti-sources-81071
Collection: Anthropocene and the Environmental Future
Abstract: The term Anthropocene, proposed and increasingly employed to denote the current interval of anthropogenic global environ- mental change, may be discussed on stratigraphic grounds. A case can be made for its consideration as a formal epoch in that, since the start of the Industrial Revolution, Earth has endured changes sufficient to leave a global stratigraphic signature dis- tinct from that of the Holocene or of previous Pleistocene inter- glacial phases, encompassing novel biotic, sedimentary, and geochemical change. These changes, although likely only in their initial phases, are sufficiently distinct and robustly estab- lished for suggestions of a Holocene-Anthropocene bound- ary in the recent historical past to be geologically reasonable. The boundary may be defined either via Global Stratigraphic Section and Point ("golden spike") locations or by adopting a numerical date. Formal adoption of this term in the near future will largely depend on its utility, particularly to earth scientists working on late Holocene successions. This datum, from the perspective of the far future, will most probably approximate a distinctive stratigraphic boundary.