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22 2011

Would a new geological period change the way we think about the earth?

Syndicated from: The Bullfrog Blog

The Anthropocene, which is potentially a new geological epoch for the earth, is covered in the May 28 edition of the Economist. Up until recently, the consensus was that mankind was living in the Holocene epoch, a stable 10,000 year stretch in the Quaternary period. Now, a growing number of scientists are making the case that that we have entered, or rather created, a new epoch: the Anthropocene, “the recent age of man.” The fossils of our age will be remarkable, revealing entirely unique buildings and materials. The fossils will also reflect the impact of people on the vast majority of earth’s ecosystems, and provide evidence of humans’ homogenization of plants and animals through domestication. The Anthropocene fossil records will also show extinctions at a record rates. Changes to the earth’s systems, including humans’ involvement in the recycling of carbon and nitrogen, will reflect the dawn of a new age. Should the Anthropocene be accepted as a new epoch, it could have a profound and welcomed effect. Most of the previous paradigm shifts―from Copernicus’ to Darwin’s―minimized the importance of humans. A paradigm shift that instead recognizes the magnitude of the impact humans are having on our planet, measured on a geological scale, holds the potential for transforming our perspectives the same way evolutionary theory did, and fundamentally affecting the way we think and act as a species. What do you think? Would recognizing the Anthropocene shift the paradigm and result in significant changes? What changes? Tom Heintzman President, Bullfrog Power

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