Thanks to all our plastic pollution and nuclear testing, humans have cut short a 11,700-year-old geological epoch known as the Holocene, and have initiated a new, human-influenced epoch called the Anthropocene, experts say.
An international team of researchers recommended to the International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa that the Anthropocene be officially declared, suggesting that its starting date should be 1950 – when nuclear tests created a new layer (or stratum) in Earth’s surface.
The group of 35 experts, known as the Working Group on the Anthropocene, took a vote on whether we should officially call it quits on the Holocene, and 30 voted in favour of declaring a new geological era, while three voted against, and two were absent.
“The significance of the Anthropocene is that it sets a different trajectory for the Earth system, of which we of course are part,” working group chair, Jan Zalasiewicz, a geologist from the University of Leicester in the UK, told the media.
“If our recommendation is accepted, the Anthropocene will have started just a little before I was born. We have lived most of our lives in something called the Anthropocene and are just realising the scale and permanence of the change.”