28 January 2008

A New "Cene"

You probably remember this from high school science class:

Geologic time is divided into eons, eras, periods and epochs. We are currently in the Cenozoic Era, Quaternary Period and the Holocene Epoch -- unless you follow the thinking of Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen.

Crutzen has suggested that human activity and industrialization have so profoundly changed the course of the planet that we have entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene, characterized by such dramatic changes to the natural course of the earth in global temperature and biology.

If he is correct, you who are reading this are now on the short list of people whose lives have been lived in two epochs -- something never before done by modern humans. Anyone born after the year 2000 (when Crutzen first made his suggestion) has only lived in the Anthropocene.

So, we now begin to die off. How soon will it be that the last Holocene-living human walks this earth? Who will it be? Will it be you?

You may read more about the new epoch

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