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Almost official: Scientists say Earth has entered a new age

Image: NASA

Image: NASA


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, January 9, 2016, 1:35 PM - We can't say we've finally reached the future, but some scientists say our planet has finally entered a new, distinct age.

But before you go checking your horoscopes, it's less about the Age of Aquarius and more to do with geology -- specifically a new geological age an international scientific panel is tentatively calling the Anthropocene Epoch.

It's distinct from the current age, known as the Holocene, in that human impact on the Earth has reached a level where its evidence can be detected in sediments and ice by future archaeologists.

"Humans are altering the planet, including long-term global geologic processes, at an increasing rate," The scientists wrote in a paper published Friday in Science Magazine. 

Dr. Colin Waters, the group's secretary and a member of the British Geological Survey, told the BBC most members of the panel are in agreement that humanity's impact is now measurable in geological terms.

"There's still some discussion as to whether it should be a formal or informal unit, but we'd like to have a specific definition. And a majority of the group are moving towards the mid-20th Century for the start of this new epoch," Waters said.

The 1950s are an attractive start date because that's when human population growth and consumption both began to spike. It's also when larger concentrations of materials such as aluminum and plastic appear, as well as evidence of radioactive materials from nuclear weapons tests, according to the BBC.

The group has not yet finalized its recommendations, and the BBC describes the latest paper as more of an interim position than a final statement on the Anthropocene.

SOURCES: Science Magazine | BBC News

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