How To Recognize the Anthropocene

By Carl Zimmer | May 17, 2010 9:14 am

Elizabeth Kolbert writes this morning about the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch marked by the dominance of our species. It may be hard to precisely mark its beginning, but here’s why I think it will be easy for geologists 10 million years in the future to pinpoint layers of Anthropocene rocks.


Comments (4)

  1. John Kwok

    Unfortunately, if my memory is correct, Ms. Kolbert isn’t the first to use the term Anthropocene as a synonym for the Holocene (Recent) Epoch which includes the present. Maybe if she did sufficient scientific homework, then she might have recognized that.

    [CZ: John, Kolbert does not claim to be the first to use the term. She recounts the term’s history and describes the current debate over it.]

  2. Dave

    LOL, John Kwok. Maybe if you had done sufficient homework and read the article before commenting on the author’s thoroughness, you wouldn’t have posted such a silly comment.

  3. John Kwok

    @ Dave –

    I personally think it is silly to have an Anthropocene Epoch, since that would be the first time that a geological time unit has been named primarily for one species, namely us. Really don’t think Kolbert should have used the term, period. Either the Recent or the Holocene should suffice.

    @ Carl –

    Just being a bit sarcastic, using a humor of the kind used by my favorite hight school teacher (In whose memory, a bronze bust of him was erected outside what was his primary school in Limerick, Ireland last Thursday.).

  4. John Kwok

    @ Dave –

    It was meant to be silly, especially when there were two important papers on evolutionary biology published in Nature last week (And one by a team of scientists led by an eminent professor of paleobiology at Carl Zimmer’s undergraduate alma mater.) and neither one has really received the attention that they deserve, especially the one on paleobiology.

    There are two valid terms for the present geological epoch in which we live in: Holocene and Recent. IMHO the Anthropocene isn’t either one.


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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