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The age of the humans now upon us

THE Earth has now entered a new geological age, the Anthropocene, defined as a period driven by human activity, rather than natural causes.

That declaration was part of a study published in the prestigious Science journal on Friday, confirming humans have altered the globe to the point it has entered the new era.

While the specific start of the Anthropocene has not been declared, many scholars have defined it as beginning in the 1950s.

Study co-author Australian National University climate expert, Professor Will Steffen, said the declaration of the "age of the humans" was "a planetary wake-up call".

He said the data now showed that human activities rivalled or exceeded the natural forces that shaped Earth's development during its 4.6 billion years.

"The Anthropocene represents a rapid destabilisation of the Earth's environment compared to the 11,700-year long Holocene epoch, the most recent of Earth history in which humans have developed agriculture, and villages and cities," he said. "We are sailing into planetary terra incognita."

The International Commission on Stratigraphy will meet later this year to consider officially declaring the current epoch as such.

Topics:  editors picks nature science


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