Geologist discusses Anthropocene online tonight

Posted by mjs76 at Oct 06, 2011 04:33 PM |
Live chat with Jan Z on literally epoch-making topic.

Apologies for the short notice but if you’re interested in the Anthropocene epoch (and you should be, because you’re living through it!) you can catch Jan Zalasiewicz from our Department of Geology online this evening answering questions on behalf of Science magazine.

Jan will take part in an hour-long, online live text-chat at 8pm UK time (that’s 3pm EDT) along with Professor Erle Ellis from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The event will be hosted by science writer Gaia Vince.

Traditional geological aging says that the present day is part of the Holocene epoch but a suggestion was made back in 2000 that human activity has affected the planet so much that we should consider modern times to be a different epoch, one where the dominant factor on Earth is us.

Epochs are of course entirely arbitrary divisions of time but they are useful markers and the most important thing is that everyone agrees on the start and finish points for each epoch, era or age and uses them consistently.

So two questions which Jan and Erle are likely to face tonight are: Does the Anthropocene really exist? And when did it start?

If you missed the live chat, the transcript is available online.

For a general introduction to the Anthropocene and other epochs, see our March 2010 story Are you ready for the Anthropocene?

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