In order to understand the term Anthropocene, it is necessary to know that the history of the earth has been divided over time into a hierarchical series that includes pieces of time which is called the geological time scale and that the divisions that this hierarchy has are they are known by the name of eons , eras , periods , ages, and epochs . The time in which we currently live is known as the Holocene and scientists have been in a discussion about whether this time has already ended to give way to a new one that would be known as the Anthropocene.
What is the Anthropocene?
The Anthropocene is an epoch or an unofficial unit of biological times that has been used to be able to give a description about the most recent period that exists in the history of the earth, a moment in which the human being and his activities began to have a very significant impact both within ecosystems and on the climate .
- Anthropocene characteristics
- Impact of humanity
- Anthropocene time limit
- The Anthropocene in popular culture
The main characteristics of the Anthropocene are mentioned below:
- The word comes from the Greek language ” anthropos ” which has a human meaning and from the word ” dinner ” which means new.
- It is distinguished mainly by the role that humans play in creating significant changes in the geological field .
- It includes a series of aspects such as fossil fuels , deforestation , the exploitation of natural resources and the great demands for water that exist in the world.
- It involves a series of changes in the composition and structure of the elements that are part of the planet and that can be attributed to the effect of man.
- It is based on a large number of alterations that have happened globally and locally and that can no longer be returned to their original state.
- It is also considered as a specific segment within time .
- It refers to a period that has a series of connotations of human domain that influence the environment .
- Although it is considered an era of time, it is not yet part of the Geological Time Scale , as the subject is in constant discussion.
It is considered that the history of the Anthropocene begins with Antonio Stoppani , who was the first person who suggested the existence of the current geological epoch and mentioned that it must be defined by the influence that human beings exerted on earth. In the 19th and 20th centuries , many important geologists had the idea that a new geological period should be introduced into the history of mankind .
In 1922 , Aleksei Pavlov , was the one who proposed for the first time in history the name for the current geological era, the Anthropocene era . Little by little the idea was gaining adherents and in 1963 it was approved as equivalent to the word or label ” quaternary “, a period that spans 2.6 million recent years.
At the beginning of the 1920s , Vladimir Vernadsky , Edouard Le Roy and Pierre Teilhard , began to use the word to describe the way in which the human being had the ability to influence the environment , however their ideas did not prosper. Some time later, Paul Crutzen , winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry , popularized the term and carried out a series of investigations regarding the changes suffered by the atmosphere , mainly the ozone layer. According to this scientist, the dramatic alterations that occurred showed that a new stage had begun.
In the month of May 2000 . Crutzen along with Stoemer , who was another renowned scientist, wrote about it and published their hypotheses about the new era in the Global Change News Letter , a newsletter belonging to the International Geosphere – Biosphere Program . In the document, they established the beginning of the era at the end of the 18th century, at which time the problem with greenhouse gases had increased.
Impact of humanity
Like all geological eras that have existed on earth, the Anthropocene is considered to have also produced a series of impacts or consequences on both the planet and humans . It is men and their actions that are responsible for producing a large number of changes in the water cycle as well as a series of imbalances and destruction in all ecosystems, both marine and terrestrial, which produces a negative impact on the environment.
It is this same man-made impact that has ushered in an entirely new geological era that focuses on human activity and how it has succeeded in influencing the planet. With all these changes produced impacts are generated that influence many geological and physical aspects such as the increase in the global average temperature, a phenomenon that occurs mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels.
It is considered that this period includes a series of conditions that affect the survival of human beings on earth, and it has even been thought that life on the planet would become practically impossible. Aspects that include overpopulation , excessive globalization and even international trade are aspects considered harmful to the planet. But above all climate change , which is considered one of the key and most important factors to explain all the changes that occur globally. The loss of the planet’s biodiversity , the pollution of water , the deforestation uncontrolled forest and how the waters of the sea are acidified are some of the impacts that have occurred in the Anthropocene.
Anthropocene time limit
Regarding the time limit of the Anthropocene, it is important to remember that the planet is still in the Holocene for millions of years, however, due to the great changes that have happened on the planet, many experts assure that the Holocene has already ended and that the anthropocene must be established in time taking into account the biological times are mainly characterized by clear signs in the conditions geological and climatic .
Defining the time limit of the Anthropocene is quite a difficult task and in fact it is one of the problems that arise when a new geological time must begin. For many experts, the Holocene ended in the middle of the 20th century and it was the moment in which a new epoch began, characterized mainly by the accelerated development of the human being and by the consequences that this phenomenon brought to planet earth .
It is believed that the Anthropocene had its beginnings around the year 1950 when the bombardments with hazardous materials began taking as a reference the explosion of atomic bombs that dispersed a series of radioactive elements in the environment, this, together with the contamination caused by plastics and other aspects are signs that a new era began in that period. In case of being recognized, the Holocene would then have already ended and we would remain in the Quaternary period belonging to the Cenozoic era .
The Anthropocene is important for the world and humanity as it is a period that would set a completely different trajectory for the world. Their study could even help humanity to try to create a more habitable planet since the dimensions of the damage caused by human activity could then take on more importance. It is the means by which, are achieved encompass all those thoughts that relate to the dangerous climate change to which the planet is exposed today.
The main criticism against the Anthropocene is that many experts are concerned that the term could have a harmful effect on the human domain or that it could erase all kinds of human responsibility. Another criticism that has been made of the term is arrogance because for many experts naming a geological era that includes the human being as the main representative produces an effect of magnificence and this would imply that humans have managed to dominate all species and even the planet.
Experts believe the Anthropocene is a term that because so implied the whole human race in general by a crisis that has been caused only by a few. Finally, the discourse of the Anthropocene also blames nature itself , which for anthropologists does not make any sense.
The Anthropocene in popular culture
In popular culture, it is possible to learn and hear about the subject through various documentaries that have been made to explain the phenomenon. ” Anthropocene: the Human Age ” is an informative documentary that shows the effects that human beings have caused on the planet. It is also possible to find a lot of information on channels such as YouTube, where several shorts talk about the subject.