Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Environment

Welcome to the Anthropocene

Living in the age of humans.

DSC-J0217_09.jpg
Anton Balazh/Shutterstock

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Humanity has etched its existence into the rock layers beneath our feet. And now, scientists look to Earth’s bedrock and see enough evidence to officially usher us into the Anthropocene — a time period sometimes defined as the “human epoch.”

The term Anthropocene first gained popularity in 2000, but it wasn’t formally recognized as a part of the geologic timescale. This year, members of the Anthropocene Working Group, a subset of the International Union of Geological Sciences (the body that oversees the geologic timescale), sought to change that. They recommended that we officially mark the end of the Holocene, the current epoch, and enter the Anthropocene.

If the larger body ratifies their proposal, we will be living in the age of humans. Next, the researchers need to find a “golden spike,” a unique boundary point in the rock strata that signifies the epoch’s beginning.

That golden spike will likely come from radioactive particles spread around the globe by atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1950s, starting off our geologic reign with a bang.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In