- 16 May 06, 03:23 PM
Written in 2002 Paul J Crutzen suggested we are now in a geological era which is defined by mankinds impact on the environment - more specifically an age defined by our generation of green house gases. Crutzen in the science journal "Nature" suggests this period started about 300 years ago - A time when industrialisation really got going. This is the Anthropocene.
Geological time is one of those things that most mortals can't get their head around. I understand that the most basic unit of geological time is the "age" and an "epoch" is a series of ages. Epochs are names you might recognise. The Holocene is the most recent, then the Pleistocene before that - And the Pliocene before that.
Are we in the Anthropocene???
The truly famous names to us lay people are immortilised in films like "Jurassic" Park. Jurassic, famous as the dinosaur era, is a geological "period" - an even longer stretch of time.
So what do you think? Are we in a period of time defined by Homo sapiens? And is this sufficiently distinctive to be found in the earths records - And to be given its own name? There are plenty who would take issue. Geological eras are defined by evidence in the fossil and geological record, something physical for us all to see. Crutzen suggests the presence of green house gases caught up in the ice record from 300 years ago is a good starting point to define this new epoch. There are scientists who believe that human induced global warming started when mankind discovered fire - perhaps the Anthropocene started 100,000 years ago! And if our cities crumbled in the dim and distant future, how would they appear in the geological record? Surley they'd be there - as a layer of concrete!