New age researchers highlight how man is changing the world

February 2, 2011
Angkor Tom in Cambodia provides a striking metaphor for the Anthropocene. Credit: University of Leicester

Human influence on the landscape, global warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification and biodiversity are highlighted in a new set of studies led by University of Leicester researchers.

How this influence will be reflected in the distinctive geological record forms the basis of the studies published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.

Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams from the University of Leicester Department of Geology led the production of the studies into the Anthropocene – a new geological epoch distinguished by the change that man has wrought upon the earth.

Dr Zalasiewicz said: "At the beginning of this millennium, the Nobel Prize winning chemist Paul Crutzen suggested that we are now living in a new geological interval of time that is dominated by human activities. He termed this the Anthropocene. Since then, the Anthropocene has increasingly been used both by scientists and by the public as in indication of the scale of human change to planet Earth.

"Our new studies published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A feature nearly 70 scientists – including Paul Crutzen himself, Sir Crispin Tickell, Professor Will Steffen and many others.

This image shows the Shanghai skyline. Credit: University of Leicester

"The results give us a much clearer picture of the way in which we are changing the world – and of how long these changes might last."

The authors contend that recent human activity, including stunning population growth, sprawling megacities and increased use of fossil fuels, have changed the planet to such an extent that we are entering what they call the Anthropocene (New Man) Epoch.

They add: "The Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other. Geologically, this is a remarkable episode in the history of this planet."

Explore further: The age of Aquarius? Nope, it's the Anthropocene epoch

Related Stories

The age of Aquarius? Nope, it's the Anthropocene epoch

April 14, 2010

In just two centuries, humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes to our world that we actually might be ushering in a new geological time period that could alter the planet for millions of years, according to ...

The Dawn of a New Epoch?

March 26, 2010

( -- Geologists from the University of Leicester are among four scientists- including a Nobel prize-winner - who suggest that the Earth has entered a new age of geological time.

Core blimey! Scientist calls for geological 'time machine'

February 4, 2008

A geologist from the University of Leicester has proposed an immense (1.5km) exhibition to illustrate the vastness of geological time and to give a vivid perspective of how quickly human activity is changing the climate.

Recommended for you

Science: Public interest high, literacy stable

October 28, 2016

While public interest in science continues to grow, the level of U.S. scientific literacy remains largely unchanged, according to a survey by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Experts uncover hidden layers of Jesus' tomb site

October 27, 2016

In the innermost chamber of the site said to be the tomb of Jesus, a restoration team has peeled away a marble layer for the first time in centuries in an effort to reach what it believes is the original rock surface where ...

Important ancient papyrus seized from looters in Israel

October 27, 2016

(—Eitan Klein, a representative of the Israel Antiquities Authority, has announced that an important papyrus document dated to 2,700 years ago has been seized from a group of Palestinian looters who reportedly ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (3) Feb 02, 2011
this is a caricature of an example of a terrible article ; a non-article. FAIL.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.