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The Holocene Continues


The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) has refused to classify human impacts on the environment as a new geological epoch—the Anthropocene. This means that the term “Anthropocene” will not be added to school and university textbooks, nor will it appear on visual aids depicting major periods in Earth’s history.

IUGS supported the decision of one of its committees, according to which the beginning of the Anthropocene cannot be declared. However, the organization acknowledged that the term is already widespread and has a lot of meaning. “Although it has been rejected as a description of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene will be talked about not only by geologists and ecologists, but also by sociologists, politicians, economists and society as a whole,” the union said in a statement. “This word is essential to describe the human impact on the Earth system.”

Scientists have no doubt that human activity is having a huge impact on the Earth, and this is quite enough to justify the emergence of a new geological period in the history of the planet. The only question is when exactly did people begin to radically change the planet. Some believe, for example, that the concept of the Anthropocene should reflect changes in the Earth's nature that began after massive deforestation and the creation of agricultural fields. But in that case, the Anthropocene must have begun many thousands of years ago, when humans first took up agriculture.

The next attempt to determine a new geological epoch can only be made in 10 years. In the meantime, we continue to live in the Holocene, an era that began after the end of the last Ice Age, about 11.7 thousand years ago.


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