Scientists Anthropocene epoch — Climate change, soil erosion, loss of species, ocean warming… The list of consequences of the action of man on the planet is long. Indeed, due to human activity on the planet, the Earth may have just entered into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene ( “Human Age”), which began in the mid 20th century.
According to a group of scientists who presented their findings Monday at the International Geological Congress, which is meeting until September 4 in Cape Town (South Africa), it would be time to say goodbye to the Holocene geological epoch which began 11,700 years ago with the end of the last glaciation.
Composed of 35 people, the working group that brings together both geologists, oceanographers, climatologists, historians or archaeologists, considered almost unanimously (34 in favor, one abstention) that the Anthropocene had become a reality in terms of (stratigraphy the study of different geological layers). A strong majority (30 in favor, 3 against, two abstentions), believes that the entrance into the Anthropocene, suspected for several years, “must be formalized.”
“Man has become such force that changes the world. It is also worrying,” said Catherine Jeandel, CNRS research director at the Laboratory for Studies in Spatial Geophysics and Oceanography (LEGOs), and a member of this group which has been working for over seven years on the issue.
Note that the concept of the Anthropocene was coined more than ten years ago by Dutchman Paul Crutzen (Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry in 1995) participating in the study group. He had set the start of this new era with the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. But a majority of members think the new era began in the mid-20th century.
“This period is called” great acceleration “. The use of fossil fuels, artificial materials, methane emissions, CO2 etc., everything has accelerated dramatically after WWII,”says Catherine Jeandel.
“Artificial fallout, related to nuclear tests peaked in the 1960s, are found in the geological strata,” for example, says Catherine Jeandel. There are also plastics. “We already found in geological strata in some places.” Or aluminum, she enumerates.
Though the arguments may seem rational, the road still seems long before the change of era is officially recorded. The proposing scientists must submit their proposal to a commission of experts and it will take at least another two years to get through the process.