The Antropocene: welcome to the Age of Man

As far as time is concerned, the key concepts to most people are probably day and night, weekend and workday, and perhaps the seasons. On your birthday, you might contemplate the yearly cycle of the moon, and when a beloved one dies you are likely to contemplate a life span.

But let’s contemplate Big Time for a moment: the time of the earth. 4,5 billion years ago, we saw the formation of the earth (and shortly after, the formation of our moon). This is Deep Time. The first vertibrate land animals only appear on the scene a mere 380 million years ago, and the first hominins 2 million years ago. If we compare the time scale of the earth to 12 hours on a kitchen clock, man entered the stage 1 minute 17 seconds before midnight, and modern man a mere 8 seconds.

As late as we appeared on the earth, in these 8 seconds we did manage to create an impact on earth’s climate and geology. According to atmospheric chemists, ecologists and geologists, we have left the Holocene, and entered the Antropocene. The Antropocene is the geological time in which human activity has an impact on earth;s climate, atmosphere, bio-diversity, plant life. Even such ‘givens’ like day and night have been disrupted by man.

To some, the Antropoceen should be dated back to the agricultural revolution, to other to the advent of the Industrial Revolution. To yet others, the Antropocene starts with the Trinity Test. The official body that appoints Geological Time Scales (yes, there is such a body) has a meeting scheduled later in 2016.