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The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch division of the geologic time scale. It reflects the fact that human activities have become large enough to have affected geologic processes like erosion, sedimentation, and both meteorologic and hydrographic events.
Additionally the abundance of new minerals, concrete, steel, plastic and bomb-test isotopes makes it clear that future geologist will recognize the "human layer" in geologic strata. Add to this the current rate of species extinction and, despite the hyperbole, it is clear that current climate change has much in common with other periods of radical environmental change over the planet's 4.6 billion-year history.
A geologist might argue that this purely technical term has little usefulness in doing geology nor does it conform to the well-established process of chronistratigraphy. But the word has shown itself to be powerfully captivating to the humanities, the environmental sciences, and the movement to fight climate change. The usefulness of this term for humanity's future, Johnson will argue, is more important than its terminological "impurity".
Mark Dale Johnson is a Göteborgs Universitet senior lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences. His research interests include sedimentology, geomorphology, and the genesis of glacial deposits; the glacial history of Scandinavia and North America; modern glacial processes; and varved sediments: layers deposited within one year in still water.
Göteborg, Västra Götaland
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