Scientists declare a new geological era marking humans’ impact on the Earth

It’s not just about how our routine use of cars and electricity has prompted carbon dioxide emissions and spurred climate change. It’s also about how we’ve decided to test out nuclear bombs and transform the land by removing trees. 

At a presentation at the International Geological Congress in South Africa on Monday, a group of experts made the case that the human race has impacted the Earth so profoundly that a new geological age needs to declared. They suggested describing the epoch as “the Anthropocene,”  a term that was first coined in the 1960s by Soviet scientists. They date the start of this period to 1950. 

We are currently in the Holocene, which began 12,000 years ago. During this time, we have had a stable climate and humans have been able to thrive. But it’s unclear whether the planet will continue to be hospitable to us. Martin Rees, the astronomer royal and former president of the Royal Society, told the Guardian:

 The darkest prognosis for the next millennium is that bio, cyber, or environmental catastrophes could foreclose humanity’s immense potential, leaving a depleted biosphere.

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