17 Sep '12, 8pm

Dot Earth Blog: The 'Anthropocene' as Environmental Meme and/or Geological Epoch: A debate builds over the notio...

Humans are altering the face of the world, no doubt. But the world has had many faces over its eons. And so the question is set: Is humanity’s touch mere makeup, or does it cut to the bone of deep time, in a pattern consistent with geology’s demands? It’s not a problem to be resolved in an Internet minute, said Jan Zalasiewicz, a University of Leicester geologist who is leading a small band of academics considering whether to formally propose the Anthropocene as an epoch. “All of these discussions about any unit in geology take an age, almost literally,” he said. By nature, stratigraphy is a conservative profession, resisting proposals even from its own eminences, let alone offhand remarks from climate scientists. Notoriously, the field wrangled for 60 years over the Quaternary, the geological period that enwraps the Holocene. Debates about the boundaries often turn politi...

Full article: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/the-anthropo...

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