The Earth has entered a new age of geological time. The dawning of this new Epoch may include the sixth largest mass extinction in the Earth’s history. The scientists propose that, in just two centuries, humans alter the planet for millions of years.
Recent human activity, including stunning population growth, sprawling megacities, increased use of fossil fuels, global climate change and sharp increases in plant and animal extinctions have changed the planet to such an extent that we are entering what they call the Anthropocene (New Man) Epoch.
The worldwide geological community is formally considering whether the Anthropocene should join other more familiar units on the Geological Time Scale. The Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other. Geologically, this is a remarkable episode in the history of this planet.
Start date of new Epoch may be considered to start in the late 18th century when the activities of humans first began to have a significant global impact on the Earth’s climate and ecosystems (commercialization of the steam engine). Other link it to earlier events, such as the rise of agriculture.
An epoch is a division of the geologic timescale. Epochs are subdivisions of periods and are themselves subdivided into ages. The time span of an epoch can differ, but is usually between 50 and 5 million years. The youngest epochs of the geologic timescale are even shorter: the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs lasted less than 3 million years, and the Holocene epoch lasts only 10,000 years.