Defining the anthropocene.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Lewis, Simon L; Maslin, Mark A
Year of Publication: 2015
Journal: Nature
Volume: 519
Issue: 7542
Pagination: 171-80
Date Published: 2015 Mar 12
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1476-4687
Keywords: Agriculture, Atmosphere, Carbon Dioxide, Chronology as Topic, Environment, Geology, History, 15th Century, History, 16th Century, History, 17th Century, History, 18th Century, History, 19th Century, History, 20th Century, History, 21st Century, Human Activities, Industry, Population Dynamics, Time Factors

Time is divided by geologists according to marked shifts in Earth's state. Recent global environmental changes suggest that Earth may have entered a new human-dominated geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Here we review the historical genesis of the idea and assess anthropogenic signatures in the geological record against the formal requirements for the recognition of a new epoch. The evidence suggests that of the various proposed dates two do appear to conform to the criteria to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene: 1610 and 1964. The formal establishment of an Anthropocene Epoch would mark a fundamental change in the relationship between humans and the Earth system.

DOI: 10.1038/nature14258
Alternate Journal: Nature