Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

Geologists oppose the declaration of the Anthropocene epoch.
Climate Environment Science World News

Geologists oppose the declaration of the Anthropocene epoch.

The keepers of the Earth’s recognized geological timeline have firmly denied a suggestion to declare an Anthropocene epoch, following a major scholarly dispute.

The suggestion was to officially name the time period from 1952 as the Anthropocene, in order to acknowledge the significant impact of human activity on the planet. This would have marked the conclusion of the Holocene epoch, which has lasted for 11,700 years and has been characterized by a stable climate since the end of the last ice age. It is during this time that human civilization has flourished.

The IUGS has declared that geologists have dismissed the concept after conducting a series of votes. Those who opposed it pointed out the extensive history of human influence on Earth, such as the beginnings of agriculture and the industrial revolution, and expressed concern about adding a new unit to the geological timescale that covers less than one human lifetime. This is in contrast to most units that span thousands or millions of years.

“The term Anthropocene will continue to see widespread use among Earth and environmental scientists, as well as social scientists, politicians, economists, and the general public. It will remain an important tool in describing how humans interact with the environment.”

The AWG, created by the SQS and part of the IUGS, spent 15 years creating a proposal. Their conclusion was that the most effective indicator of humanity’s impact on the planet was the widespread presence of radioactive isotopes from hydrogen bomb testing. The chosen location for the geological time unit is Crawford sinkhole lake in Canada.

An aerial view of the Crawford sinkhole lake in Ontario, Canada

Display the image in full screen mode.

“In February, a proposal was rejected by an SQS vote with a majority of 12 to four. However, its chair, Professor Jan Zalasiewicz from the University of Leicester, who supported the proposal, stated that the vote did not follow proper procedures. The IUGS has since declared that in the next step of the process, the chairs of its 17 subcommissions overwhelmingly approved the negative SQS vote with 15 votes in favor, one abstention, and one non-voting member. This ultimate decision is final and cannot be challenged.”

The IUGS stated that even though the suggestion was firmly denied, the AWG has played a vital role in providing the scientific community with a vast amount of information on the effects of humans on global systems. This database will continue to be a crucial resource for reference in the years to come.

According to Zalasiewicz, the decision of the IUGS results in the Anthropocene being interpreted in various ways, which is confusing. This failure to acknowledge a straightforward truth – that the Earth’s natural state was significantly altered in the 1950s – has been a missed chance. Numerous geological indicators support this evidence.

Ignore the advertisement for the newsletter.

The trend is expected to persist. Zalasiewicz mentioned that the AWG was crafting a comprehensive response to address significant discrepancies in the IUGS statement, which will accurately present the facts. Additionally, he stated that the group will continue their efforts independently from the IUGS to establish a definitive understanding of the term and concept, in order to benefit the larger community.

One potential option is to refer to the Anthropocene as an “event” – a term commonly used by geologists to describe major changes to the planet. Examples of such changes include the introduction of oxygen into the atmosphere 2 billion years ago, due to the activity of photosynthesising cyanobacteria, and the emergence of complex life during the Cambrian period 540 million years ago.

Source: theguardian.com