Enter the Anthropocene

The term “Anthropocene” is a word that is used to describe a new geological epoch that some believe we are currently living in. The claim is that humans have created so much of a physical impact on earth that we have exited out of the Holocene epoch, which started around the end of the last ice age (Kolbert, Pg. 60). I agree with this claim and would vote to add a new epoch to the time scale. Like Steffen, I agree that the new epoch began around the 19th century. This was when industrialism began to rise. During this time CO2 concentration in the air rose by 25 ppm, which is above the threshold of natural variation which leaves no doubt it was human-caused (Steffen, Pg. 616). We have also dramatically changed the physical appearance of the land. We have built massive cities and turned over 38% of non-frozen land is now used for agriculture (Kolbert, Pg. 62). Some argue that we haven’t made a dramatic enough impact to categorize it as a new epoch, and I don’t believe that’s true. Even though land is being altered every day for new reasons, the majority of the groundwork is already put in place. It’s very unlikely a city as big as Shanghai or New York will be created from scratch again. If there is even any question that humans have the possible to create a new epoch, we have already done it.


This statement by Kahan I believe is very true. Every public opinion we take is influenced by the people around us or we even change opinions to fit into what’s popular. One big example that I can think of is politicians and climate change. Even though the narrative is starting to change, there has been a stigma that Democrats want to put in policy to stop climate change, while some Republicans don’t believe in climate change or don’t believe we should put in policy to do anything about it. Of course there are republicans that want to stop climate change but this was the biggest example I could think of. This makes it difficult to put in solutions because even if someone agrees that climate change is a problem, they may express different public views in order to fit in with the stigma. I believe we should not worry about fitting in with our peers and just start to brainstorm solutions to something that is obviously a problem.

1 thought on “Enter the Anthropocene”

  1. I thought the evidence you provided in your first paragraph was excellent in emphasizing why the Anthropocene should certainly be added to the geologic time scale. As I see, there isn’t much more we could do to clearly mark a shift in geologic time, as the CO2 emissions have skyrocketed since the beginning of the 19th century alongside the urbanization of society, thus leading to the need for big cities and more agriculture. This fact also plays right along into Kahan’s argument regarding people’s opinions as so many other questions and perspectives come into play with the development of cities and improved agriculture that don’t specifically revolve around climate change. I think you’re point regarding Democrats and Republicans introduces a very important point as well that arguably the most powerful influence of peer groups is to influence the opinions of their members. No matter which opinion you previously, more often than not, your opinion will adapt to the opinion that is most commonly held by your peer group.

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