Friday, February 18, 2011

One for the Ages

A few years back, geologists suggested that recent planetary changes caused by human activity were of such magnitude as to warrant the addition of a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene.  Anthropogenic changes in atmosphere, climate, seawater, and land erosion patterns, as well as sweeping species extinctions mean that for all intents and purposes the Holocene ended with the industrial revolution.   I would argue that the changes caused by industrial civilization warrant not just the coining of a new epoch, but the unveiling of an entirely new era. 

We have entered the Anthropozoic

The differences between before and after the industrial revolution are easily on par with the differences that straddle the two sides of the K-T boundary—industrial civilization is the mother of all meteor strikes!

Of course, that’s just a bookkeeping issue.   How scientists (intellectual maid-servants of the machine) choose to label their timeline is of no lasting relevance.

1 comment:

  1. Note that there is good reason to think that the agricultural revolution might make a better demarcation. The industrial revolution is merely a mechanical acceleration of planet-altering processes already in full swing.