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New Geological Age
People, Environment

New Geological Age

There is little doubt now that Earth has entered a new geological age, believes an international scientific panel. The team, which has been tasked with defining the so-called Anthropocene, says humanity’s impacts on Earth will be visible in sediments and rocks millions of years into the future. The researchers are working toward a formal classification of the new epoch. An open question is the formal start date, which some panel members think could be the 1950s, BBC reported. This decade marks the beginning of the “Great Acceleration”, when the human population and its consumption patterns skyrocketed. It coincides with the spread of ubiquitous “techno materials”, such as aluminum, concrete and plastic. It also covers the years when thermonuclear weapons tests dispersed radioactive elements across the globe. Their long-lived activity will still be apparent to anyone who cares to look for it hundreds of millennia from now. The report by the Anthropocene Working Group, published in Science magazine, is not a full and final statement on the subject, but an update on the panel’s investigations. However, the key finding is that humanity’s impacts on Earth should now be regarded as pervasive and sufficiently distinctive to justify a separate classification.

 

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