I heard an interesting interview on NPR while driving home today. Some scientists are arguing that we are entering a new geological epoch, characterized by human impact on the planet. The proposed name is the Anthropocene Epoch. The last 12,000 years have been classified as the Holocene Epoch.
The scientists interviewed gave some examples of how human actions were recorded geologically. With the widespread cultivation of arable lands, fossil records will show the shift from grasslands and forests to farm fields. Rising ocean temperature and acidity may threaten coral activity, which would also be noticeable in fossil records. Development has drastically changed the ways in which sediments are moved and deposited.
Bleached Coral (image from Wikipedia)
I’m not really writing this with any strong opinion, though some of the changes are clearly problematic. It’s just strange to think that the actions of our species will be recorded in the very geology of our planet. We’ve come a long way (for mostly-hairless monkeys).
Check the interview here.