Scientists Declare New Age Based on Effects of Human Activity
Science| | By Lauren Boudreau
The Guardian. Apparently, humans have changed the Earth so much since our caveman days that we must bookmark it.Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wow, human existence has altered the world so much we’re basically in a new age?” If you have, you’d be right, and scientists agree. At the International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, on Monday, scientists proposed the declaration of a new age – the Anthropocene epoch, according to
This new age will begin around 1950 to present times. The largest contributing factor for the new epoch would be the radioactive deposits from our nuclear bomb testing, although, other factors being considered are plastic pollution, concrete, and, strangely enough, chickens. The Guardian reports that “the bones left by the global proliferation of the domestic chicken” are also under consideration. Currently, we are in an epoch that designates human existence. It’s called the Holocene epoch and begins after the last ice age. However, with all things considered, the world today is almost unrecognizable from the one on which we first began our evolutionary process. Jan Zalasiewicz, a geologist at the University of Leicester, told The Guardian, “The significance of the Anthropocene is that it sets a different trajectory for the Earth system, of which we of course are part.” He continued: “We have lived most of our lives in something called the Anthropocene and are just realizing the scale and permanence of the change.” With sea levels rising, deforestation, and mass extinction of species, it’s hard not to see how much it’s changed. In order to define a new epoch, though, there must be geological evidence within the Earth, which scientists believe is marked by the radioactive deposits, plastic, and other factors mentioned above. “Since the mid-20th century, [the chicken] has become the world’s most common bird. It has been fossilized in thousands of landfill sites and on street corners around the world,” Zalasiewicz said. “It is also a much bigger bird with a different skeleton than its prewar ancestor.” The Guardian reports that 35 scientists voted on whether to declare the new age with 30 voting in favor. They will now have to decide where in the world the change began and what element indicates it. Welcome to the Anthropocene epoch everyone.