There exist endless discussions and debates between environmental advocates and geologists concerning various issues. It is as a result of how humans have effected changes in the natural state of things, animals, atmospheric conditions and much more. Anthropocene derived from the words, anthropo meaning human and cene meaning epoch/new is the name that describes a new epoch that human beings have significantly changed the earth due to the many activities which have resulted to animal extinction, global warming and loss of habitats for a wide range of species. As such, this paper seeks to focus on events of humankind that have resulted in the current state of the earth.
Scientists are still figuring out whether or not the earth has entered the Anthropocene. It has triggered a lot of discussions and attention to the geologists from a large population of people in the continent who seem convinced that the earth has reached the Anthropocene. Designating of this Epoch brings forth an impression that it is okay or evident that human beings have affected the global climatic conditions observed today through evident occurrences like ocean acidification, landscape changes and extinction of some animal species. Some people feel that it is everyone’s responsibility to deal with the global climatic challenges since people were and are responsible for the alteration of the earth’s system (Lewis et al., 2015).
Defining these problems as Anthropocene, a new geological epoch is not advisable since there has been a misunderstanding of the ethical implications that can result due to the relationship between species present on earth and earth itself. There should be natural evidence which supports this including the anthropogenic process in rocks and other earth surfaces. Paul Crutzen together and Eugine Stroermer were the first geologists to make known the Anthropocene idea in the year 2000 through an International Newsletter. It is an indication for the necessity of more detailed studies and facts to officially name this era as Anthropocene.
Human impact on the planet is evident in the Holocene which currently stands as a past geological epoch. For example, analysis done in the Western Iberian Peninsula on microscopic charcoal and pollen demonstrate that human activities specifically fire events have led to the clearance of vegetation which has resulted in a high turnover in vegetation. The Little Ice Age is the Holocene climate signal which is not yet overwritten by the human activities in the paleo records. Currently, there are issues in the paleo-ecological studies present in geology showing the start of landscape shaping (Waters et al., 2016).
The geologists who propose the presence of the Anthropocene reveal that rock and fossil will show visible recordings of anthropogenic impacts in unprecedented ways. The International Union of Geological Sciences appointed a committee, The Working Group on the Anthropocene, which described the Anthropocene as a unique age marked by various geological processes altered by human activities that will be visible to geologists in the future. Erosion, sediment transport and change in the biosphere are associated with a lot of anthropogenic processes that include agriculture, global warming, ocean acidification, and colonization. Further, the study from the WGA is convincing enough to conclude that geologists will see changes in rock and fossil records in the future.
The Stone Age marked the beginning of humankind’s impact on the planet. It is a prehistoric event that took place about 2.5 million years ago; it’s the period that human beings started using primitive tools. However, there were significant differences between the tools as a result of mechanical and skill used. It is divided into three periods, namely, Old Stone Age that lasted for many years until 9,600 BC. It is the most extended Stone Age period. Secondly is the Middle Stone Age period during which agriculture began. It is where the human impact started to be felt adequately, agriculture developed in different regions including around 7000 BC in Europe and 4,000 BC in Northern Europe. Large-scale changes were underway, and the climate was getting hotter alongside the melting of ice, sea levels rose, and other changes were observed.
Lastly is the New Stone Age/Neolithic, where cereal cultivation and domestication of animals was introduced. Here more changes were brought by agriculture and later in the 1940s when the Neolithic Revolution was introduced. Forests were cleared, and there was the development of new technologies for farming. Towards the end of the Stone Age era copper was introduced which marked the transition to Bronze Age. From the Stone Age periods till now there have been continuous advancements in Agricultural and industrial Sectors that have impacted the planet significantly and explicitly contributing to a new geological epoch.
From my point of view, the world’s first nuclear bomb explosion marked the end of Holocene and on the other side, the beginning of Anthropocene. It occurred at Alamogordo on July 16, 1945. The event is the most suitable as it produced an eligible and clear mark on the planet. It is a clear picture of the relationship between human beings and the environment that has turned out to be destructive and inevitable (Carpenter, 2016).
A new epoch is defined if it has incorporated its signal into rock deposits in the planet. The only thing that can work is the spike in radioactive elements like nuclear bombs. Since the event of the blast, WGA researchers argue that distinct layers of sediments have been forming and the study behind this is still ongoing. There is an indication that the world has been moved to a new geological phase due to the disturbances of occurring on a global scale (Fay, 2016).
Although the bombing activity took place in the Northern hemisphere every bark of a tree across the is found to contain radionuclides. Traces of strange artificial radionuclides have been found in rocks and Carbon-14 and Plutonium-239 in trowels. It is a result of the nuclear explosion that released radionuclides all over the world and especially plutonium. It is naturally rare to find compounds that if present, can be traced all back to 1945. Being one of the markers that signified the start of Anthropocene, the world’s first nuclear explosion is the best examples as it is effectively tracked in geological strata using different geological clues (Ellis et al., 2016).
There is a need for comparisons with other periods that man had not significantly impacted the planet to help ease the extreme planet changes in the current geological period. It is modeling of future events on human relationships with the environment that could help address the current destructive events. Signals resulting from geological records such as war and industrial weapons and wastes should be regarded as crucial lessons. I believe though, that Holocene is past and that we are in a new epoch, the Anthropocene, which is a reminder of human effects on earth.
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