In the USA, the National Museum of Natural History renovated its
exhibition space to feature a display of earth changes created by humans.
Monsttersky writing in Nature (2015) stated:" This provocative exhibit will
focus on the Anthropocene — the slice of Earth's history during which people
have become a major geological force. Through mining activities alone, humans
move more sediment than all the world's rivers combined. Homo sapiens has also
warmed the planet, raised sea levels, eroded the ozone layer and acidified the
oceans. Given the magnitude of these changes, many researchers propose
that the Anthropocene represents a new division of geological time." The
International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) , a consortium of mostly
geological historians has owned the classification of earth epochs and some
members argue that it is too early to classify Anthropocene as equivalent to a
The major changes in the planet wrought by humans are not in doubt, but
bigger events (asteroid collision sun events, volcanoes, tsunamis) may suddenly
occur and change everything. Monastersky suggested:" When Crutzen proposed the
term Anthropocene, he gave it the suffix appropriate for an epoch and argued for
a starting date in the late eighteenth century, at the beginning of the
Industrial Revolution. Between then and the start of the new millennium, he
noted, humans had chewed a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, doubled the
amount of methane in the atmosphere and driven up carbon dioxide concentrations
by 30%, to a level not seen in 400,000 years.
Agriculture, construction and the damming of rivers is stripping away sediment at least ten times as fast as the
natural forces of erosion. Along some coastlines, the flood of nutrients from
fertilizers has created oxygen-poor 'dead zones', and the extra CO2 from
fossil-fuel burning has acidified the surface waters of the ocean by 0.1 pH
units. The fingerprint of humans is clear in global temperatures, the rate of
species extinctions and the loss of Arctic ice… This week in Nature, two
researchers propose that a potential marker for the start of the Anthropocene
could be a noticeable drop in atmospheric CO2 concentrations between 1570 and
1620, which is recorded in ice cores. They link this change to the deaths of
some 50 million indigenous people in the Americas, triggered by the arrival of
Europeans. In the aftermath, forests took over 65 million hectares of abandoned
agricultural fields — a surge of regrowth that reduced global CO2."
[i] Richard Monastersky.
Anthropocene: The human age. Momentum is building to establish a new geological
epoch that recognizes humanity's impact on the planet. Nature 11 March 2015
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