New group seeks to timeline the Anthropocene—when humans became the dominant force on Earth

Earth
Clouds over Australia are shown. Credit: NASA
(Phys.org)—A team of four scientists has published a Perspectives piece in the journal Science outlining their arguments for reaching back further in time than others have suggested for the beginning of the Anthropocene—a geologic epoch defined by the impact of homo sapiens on planet Earth. William Ruddiman, Erle Ellis, Jed Kaplan and Dorian Fuller suggest that current arguments that point to modern exploits overlook the huge impact of forest clearing and farming many thousands of years ago.

Humans have had a major impact on planet Earth, there is no debating that. But have our efforts resulted in an un-reversible geologic impact? And if so, when exactly did it happen? That is what climatologists, geologists and other scientists have been debating for the past several years. Back in 2000 Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer published a paper igniting the debate by coining the word Anthropocene to describe what they felt was the current epoch—where humans are the driving force, instead of nature. They suggested its start was the 1700's because that was when the industrial revolution got going.

Over the past fifteen years, many others have published papers offering their ideas on when the Anthropocene got its start, with some debating whether it ever really did. In this new paper, the authors suggest that if a start date is to be identified it should take into account the massive changes wrought by cutting down forests and the start of agriculture, which they say pushes the date back 11,000 years, or perhaps to the time when humans began wiping out other large animals such as the woolly mammoth, around 50,000 years ago.

The thing that is making it difficult to settle the matter is the absence of a clearly identifiable marker, known as a golden spike, e.g., the comet that killed off the dinosaurs. Some have suggested that scientists finding traces of radiation worldwide from nuclear tests is such a marker, while others point to the finding of carbon ash (due to burning coal) in soils.

Official designations are carried out by the International Union of Geological Sciences, which has not changed its stance that we are still living in the Holocene epoch, which began 11,700 years ago—after the last ice age receded. Debate on the topic will likely proceed and there is no guarantee that a consensus will be reached, and that is why the authors of this new paper suggest that perhaps the word Anthropocene be changed to (lower case) and be used to designate an idea rather than a formal epoch.


Explore further

Did the Anthropocene begin with the nuclear age?

More information: Defining the epoch we live in, Science 3 April 2015: Vol. 348 no. 6230 pp. 38-39 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa7297

Abstract
Human alterations of Earth's environments are pervasive. Visible changes include the built environment, conversion of forests and grasslands to agriculture, algal blooms, smog, and the siltation of dams and estuaries. Less obvious transformations include increases in ozone, carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4) in the atmosphere, and ocean acidification. Motivated by the pervasiveness of these alterations, Crutzen and Stoermer argued in 2000 that we live in the "Anthropocene," a time in which humans have replaced nature as the dominant environmental force on Earth (1). Many of these wide-ranging changes first emerged during the past 200 years and accelerated rapidly in the 20th century (2). Yet, a focus on the most recent changes risks overlooking pervasive human transformations of Earth's surface for thousands of years, with profound effects on the atmosphere, climate, and biodiversity.

Journal information: Science

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Apr 03, 2015
If you want a golden marker for the start of the Anthropocene why not wait until we become a Class 1 civilization, that is we employ as much energy as the sun shines on us. At that point we really should be able to deliberately affect the climate. Until then we're just another animal affecting the climate naturally as, to some extent, does every other animal and plant on the earth. We are 70% of the way to being a Class 1 civilization but if environmentalists (of the CAGW variety) get their way we will never reach that state.

Apr 03, 2015
Grant bait: prove that mankind had something to do with the climate change that led to the end of the last glacial maximum 20,000-ish years ago. Burning forests, both intentionally and accidentally? That was also followed by a significant string of extinctions of large animals, especially in the Americas. This was well before the Younger Dryas.

Apr 03, 2015
The NA megafauna became extinct when plants with nitrogen fixing ability died out at the end of the last glaciation. Clover and alphalpha were reintroduced to NA with Europeans. You can't have megafauna without mega veggie nitrogen. One recent study estimates that they might have all been gone in 100 years. WAAAAAY beyond the capabilities of Clovis Man.

Europe might be a different kettle of fish.

Apr 03, 2015
Oh, no! Them environmentalists will not let this guy pollute the water and air we all use!!

Oh, no!

Apr 04, 2015
The supposedly scientific concept of the "anthropocene" presumes that humanity is unfit to inhabit this planet. This is merely a rehashed version of the notion of a ruling Greco-Roman pantheon of gods dominated by an irrational hatred of technological progress: Zeus perpetually torturing Prometheus for providing mankind the use of fire. Socrates was put to death for questioning this doctrine. Vladimir Vernadsky developed the concept of the Noosphere nearly 100 years ago. It is the scientific alternative to this sort of tendentious sophomoric babble.

Apr 04, 2015
Shortly after the advent of agriculture, people began deforesting huge swaths of land. The result was a vast barren, desertified area stretching from the Sahara to the gobi. Early leaders commented on this dilemma and struggled to find ways of dealing with it.

Nebucchadnezzar for instance had a plan to strip a few feet of topsoil in the Euphrates valley which had become saltified from irrigation. But he gave up.

The Problem that leaders all faced was the propensity of the people to outgrow the means to provide for themselves, and then to blame their resultant misery on their leaders. It became obvious to leaders that because of this the people themselves were the enemies of leaders everywhere, and of the planet which soon be ruined unless a Solution was found.

And so leaders came up with the strategy of dividing the people up and setting them against one another in Controlled and Constructive ways.
Cont>

Apr 04, 2015
They found that Managing wars and predetermining their outcome could make them immensely powerful. The Trick was to ensure that Leaders on both sides were always on the same Side.

This Strategy was an easy sell to leaders everywhere. They intermarried and soon became a Tribe unto Themselves, dedicated to perpetuating Their rule and saving the earth from the people who swarmed over it.

"For god so loved the WORLD that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not die, but shall have everlasting life."

-And whosoever could believe in this outrageous lie would be willing to do most anything that their Leaders would tell them to, in order to maintain their place in heaven. They would be willing to suffer, starve, kill people who weren't their enemies, and martyr themselves and their families on cue.

A vast Empire took shape. Knowledge about the natural world was accumulated safe from the danger that it would be lost in uncontrolled conflict.
Cont>

Apr 04, 2015
Prosperity and Beauty flourished. Overall Stability and Progress could be indefinitely maintained. As a result the planet is no longer in danger of being ruined and mankind stands poised to establish itself in independent, self-sustaining colonies on other worlds, whereupon it will be safe from the threat of self-imposed extinction.

Never again.

Hail Empire.

Apr 04, 2015
Prosperity and Beauty
http://youtu.be/zTVs3S8-koQ

-because it 'scares the hell out of the slopes'

Apr 04, 2015
"because it 'scares the hell out of the slopes'"
--------------------------------------

Is that some kind of racism?

Apr 04, 2015
What did you mean "the slopes"?

And why the music for 15 year-old adolescents with bad attitudes?

Apr 04, 2015
Empire, crap metal, racism.

Someone needs their meds.

Apr 04, 2015
Otto is still ranting about Empire/Reich like the aging, Nazi shut-in he's always been. No surprise there.

Apr 05, 2015
Instead of having to show up here every day with his dick in his hand, to downrate poor ottos every post, because you know he OWNS me, estivan ought to rent a few good movies.
http://youtu.be/GKaYOW9zMoY

-hey they just remade Cinderella esai. You excited?

Apr 05, 2015
What is that comment about "slopes"?

I want to know if we have a racist here.

Apr 06, 2015
What is that comment about "slopes"?

I want to know if we have a racist here.


What is that comment about "slopes"?

I want to know if we have a racist here.


What is that comment about "slopes"?

I want to know if we have a racist here.
gkam wants people here to jump through hoops for him. Watch the vid gkam. You're a vet who doesn't recognise that ref? More evidence that you were never in nam.

If you want obedient doggies, estivan is the Pudel who can't help but salivate every time he downrates poor otto.

Apr 06, 2015
Pudel??? Are you a 14 year-old shut-in?

otto, first of all the word "slopes" is a terrible derogative. You did not face any enemy, were not in the Vietnam War, did not serve at all, and you do not get to use it.

No stay-at-home "patriots" can use those words.

Apr 06, 2015
You don't know the half of Otto's sickness: He believes that mass extermination of religious people is justified and practical because "religionists" only create unmanageable population growth, hence his adoration of Hitler and the genocide of Southeast Asians at the hands of the West. The real irony is that the Nazis began as a cabal of sadistic homosexuals, which is well documented. They only persecuted outwardly effeminate homosexuals to throw people off of their trail. But this is at the root of Otto's fascination with Nazi ideology. The "Ghost of Otto" is a reference to some S.S. officer named Otto something or other. GhostofOtto is a closeted psychotic.

Apr 06, 2015
I see lots of them. . . former wannabe's who decayed into never-was'.

Apr 06, 2015
From the begining which was not so long ago. How mutch are several milleniums?

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