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Holocene Epoch or add a new Anthropocene Epoch?


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Anyone got an opinion on whether we are still in the Holocene epoch or should we amend geological time scale to add the new epoch of Anthropocene due to the geophysical impact of mankind?

Answers on a postcard to the Anthropocene Working Group, Berlin courtesy of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. You have until 2016 when the AWG hand their proposal to the ICS who decides for us all.
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Re: Holocene or Anthropocene?

PS - Personally I don't think 11,700 years is long enough for an epoch, surely they should be measured in the millions of years.

Also in the pinprick of our existence there it is clear we have made a huge impact but we are still nowhere near the extremities of the planet's climate range. There has not been the huge climate changes like ice age, guess that is because it is measured in decades and changes like that are in thousand(s) of years.

We are not in a mass extinction yet, we are still able to reverse or at least minimize our impact (might happen if you;re optimist). And what is the really big impact on the geology of our planet? Have we caused a reverse in polarity? Has anything other than climate change happened that is attributable to us and if not is climate change enough to warrant an epoch change and to put the blame squarely on us?

All things that make me think it is just being anthropocentric claptrap and self indulgence by self serving/self promoting ecologists, climate scientists and the odd geologist too. The people presenting at this are from wide disciplines. it seems that people from the humanities, social science, politics, etc. also have a voice in the geological epoch we are in. Will that mean if you are centre right you will be for it but not wanting to sound too liberal would vote against. Or if you are right wing you will jerk your knee and scream "madness!!" Sorry, just find the idea that politics should have a say on deciding on the end of an geological epoch. Science needs facts, politics needs votes which facts tend to get in the way of. Not the same thing. Let the scientists debate it. What is it that marked the shift from past epochs? Apply the principles that warranted those epoch changes to modern situation and keep the political sphere out of it is what I am saying.


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I imagine there are a few on here with interest in geology and plenty with views on climate change so I thought I would bring it up. I'm very interested since the whole idea that I am alive at the boundary of a geological epoch is kind of amazing. Even though it is all a man made concept it still kind of buzzes with me. Don't agree with it but the idea interests me. Not just an end of an era but an epoch!


I tend to agree with your assessment that an epoch should be considerably more than just a few thousand years. I also agree with the idea of keeping politics out of science. Unfortunately, we all know where science gets most of its funding these days. Not much hope of the politicos keeping their hands out of it.


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I guess you are right. The whole Climate Change debate went very political. Plus the whole academic research funding issue also puts pressure on science (and technology). Whether that is state research funding, charitable groups or industry the direction of research, certainly at the more practical end, gets subverted towards the needs of the sponsor/funder. I doubt any body will give money away without provisos.

I've had some interesting conversations along that line with academic researchers over the years. One such conversation discussed what the researcher would do if they were truly wealthy and could fund their own research. The conclusion is that is fraught by hidden difficulties. One of which is your research is likely to get ignored. The reason behind that is the perceived reputation among your peers. Who is funding your research is a part of the reputation of the outcomes.

That is similar to the idea behind another discussion in another thread where someone was discussing the big name publications and the effect on researchers careers. Get an article into Nature early on in your career and you are likely to have a good one. That is why there is a small but growing open publishing (think that is what it is called) that is supported by some very big names on technology. The idea that by opening out publication to more researchers then quality will come out without the over-arching power of Nature and other big name peer reviewed publishers. This of course is not saying the published research in the open publications are not peer reviewed just that it is not filtered out according to some editorial policy at play behind the scenes.

Anyway the outcome of self funding research (through a university of course) was not believed to be as good as you'd think. You would still have to get a university to accept your research. They of course would want funding to come to them and to pay for others to benefit too. Buy 3 Ph.Ds and you'd be able to get one free for yourself effectively subject to quality being achieved of course. You'd also have to make sure the topic fits in nicely with the sort of research the institute does anyway.

Anyway, all off topic.


Not off topic at all. That's kind of the point, isn't it? There is much more at play than just the pursuit of pure science, regardless of the venue. I suspect t'was ever thus, just easier to identify these days.
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