We really cannot emphasize the significance of this issue enough. Case in point, in the field of geology, an epoch is a period in Earth’s history used to identify a specific era. For most of the Earth’s history, these periods last for millions of years. That

Case in point, in the field of geology, an epoch is a period in Earth’s history used to identify a specific era. For most of the Earth’s history, these periods last for millions of years. That is, until we (humans) came along. Officially, we are currently in the Holocene epoch which only covers, roughly, the past 12,000 years.

Now, a team of international scientists and researchers who gathered at the International Geological Congress held in Cape Town, South Africa are saying that it’s time that a new epoch should be declared. They’re calling it the Anthropocene, signifying the significant role human activity is having on the currently developing sediment.

This human-influenced epoch is marked, unfortunately, by climate change, air pollution, population growth, and significant rainforest loss. There is still some debate as to when the epoch’s start was, but some are pointing to the 1950s, when nuclear testing began and prompted radioactive elements to become a part of the sediment. In order to declare the new epoch, there has to be a clear signal, defined as a “golden spike,” of a change in the geological record.

In order to declare the new epoch, there has to be a clear signal, defined as a “golden spike,” of a change in the geological record. Aside from radioactive sediment, other candidates include deposits caused from the burning of fossil fuels, the effects of fertilizer on soil, and plastic pollution, among others.