Controversy with the Anthropocene: humanity nonetheless doesn’t know through which geological epoch it lives | Science | EUROtoday

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The thought of ​​the Anthropocene—that humanity has been dwelling since 1950 in a brand new geological epoch characterised by human air pollution—has develop into so widespread lately that even the Royal Spanish Academy adopted the time period within the Dictionary of the Language in 2021. Academics have been in an excessive amount of of a rush this time. The idea continues to be up within the air, within the midst of vehement controversy amongst specialists. Members of the committee of specialists that should make the choice on the International Union of Geological Sciences (UICG) – the Quaternary Stratigraphy Subcommittee – have leaked this Tuesday to the newspaper The New York Times who’ve voted overwhelmingly towards recognizing the existence of the Anthropocene. However, the president of the Subcommittee, geologist Jan Zalasiewicz, explains to EL PAÍS that the preliminary results of the vote has been introduced with out his authorization and that there are nonetheless “some pending issues with the votes that must be resolved.” Humanity nonetheless doesn’t know in what geological period it lives.

The Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for illuminating the outlet within the ozone layer, proposed in 2000 that the planet had entered a brand new period, attributable to the brutal impression of human beings. An worldwide group of specialists, the Anthropocene Working Group, has analyzed the scientific details since 2009 and final 12 months offered a proposal to formally proclaim this new geological epoch, marked by the radioactivity of atomic bombs and pollution from burning. of coal and oil. The tiny Crawford Lake, on the outskirts of Toronto (Canada), was the best place to exemplify the start of the Anthropocene, due to the sediments at its backside, undisturbed for hundreds of years.

The majority of members of the IUCG Quaternary Stratigraphy Subcommittee have voted towards the proposal, in accordance with the American newspaper. British geologist Colin Waters, chief of the Anthropocene Working Group, explains to EL PAÍS that he has discovered from the press. “We have not yet received official confirmation directly from the secretary of the Quaternary Stratigraphy Subcommittee. It seems that The New York Times receives the results before us, it is very disappointing,” laments Waters.

The geologist acknowledges that the ruling, if confirmed, could be the top of his present proposal, however he doesn’t quit. “We have many eminent researchers who want to continue as a group, informally, defending the evidence that the Anthropocene should be formalized as an epoch,” he says. In his opinion, the present geological strata – contaminated by radioactive isotopes, microplastics, ash and pesticides – have modified irreversibly in comparison with these of the Holocene, the geological epoch that started greater than 10,000 years in the past, after the final ice age. “Given the existing evidence, which continues to mount, I would not be surprised by a future call to reconsider our proposal,” says Waters, of the University of Leicester.

The head of the Anthropocene Working Group maintains that there are “some procedural issues” that decision into query the validity of the vote. Italian geologist Silvia Peppoloni, head of the IUCG Geoethics Commission, confirms that her group has produced a report on this combat between the Quaternary Stratigraphy Subcommittee and the Anthropocene Working Group. The doc is on the desk of the president of the UICG, the British John Ludden.

Canadian geologist Francine McCarthy was satisfied that Lake Crawford would persuade the skeptics. From the skin it appears small, barely 250 meters lengthy, however its depth is near 25 meters. Its floor waters don’t combine with these of its mattress, so the underside soil might be analyzed like a lasagna, through which every layer accumulates sediments from the ambiance. This underwater calendar from Lake Crawford reveals the so-called Great Acceleration, the second round 1950 when humanity started to depart an more and more evident footprint, with the dropping of atomic bombs, the huge burning of oil and coal, and the extinction of species.

“Ignoring the enormous impact of humans on our planet since the mid-20th century has potentially harmful consequences, by minimizing the importance of scientific data to address the evident change in the Earth system, as Paul Crutzen already pointed out almost 25 years ago. years,” warns McCarthy.

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