Anthropocene Controversy

This article sets out the current controversy among geologists about the definition of the geological age in which we are living. The Geologic Time Scale is a massive achievement that divides the whole of the Earth’s history into meaningful units of time representing key changes in the Earth system, typically based on new lifeforms appearing in the fossil record. The system splits geological time into ever finer “nested” units: eons being the longest, followed by eras then periods, epochs and finally ages….  two “committees”, some scientists wedded to the Holocene, others backing the acknowledgement of the Anthropocene are in  dispute.

The article author challenges the use of ‘epoch’ for the Holocene that is one of 45 inter-glacial phases in the last 2.5 million years. He also criticises the Holocene committee for ignoring the evident huge impact of humans in the last 500 years on both the physical an d life environments of the planet’s surface which the Anthropocene committee favours as the most recent geological epoch.

The article links to two relevant short videos  that elaborate differences in the two geological perspectives. From the perspective of this Spaceship Earth website, to ignore the Great Acceleration of human impact on the planet since the 1950s suggests a remarkable oversight of  the IGCU Holocene committee on stratigraphy. Humans now move and construct more ‘strata’ than do the natural forces of erosion, not to mention adding larger quantities of CO2 to the atmosphere and creating a hole in the ozone layer!

Guardian Long Read – Timothy Morton Anthropocene philosopher

“The Shock of the Anthropocene” – reviewed by Jeremy Williams

The Term “Anthropocene”- why not ‘Capitalocene’? Philosopher Donna Haraway has proposed another name that looks to the future: “Chthulucene” (from the Greek chthonos, meaning “of the earth”), an age in which we humans teach ourselves to live in full and rich harmony with our fellow beings. (Scientific American, Dec 2018)

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