Unit dating controversy
It was done by small, dedicated groups and it never got the headlines, ” says Jan Zalasiewicz, a professor of paleobiology at the University of Leicester.“Most geologists think of it as really dull work—you know, it’s a bit like eating your greens, someone’s got to do it.”Stratigraphers were something like the tax attorneys of geology.“Geologists are not a bunch of fools who do not understand the changes that are taking place,” he said.“The changes that are happening now are very large—just take sea-level rise, for example.In 2015, the group announced that the Anthropocene was a plausible new layer and that it should likely follow the Holocene.But the team has yet to propose a “golden spike” for the epoch: a boundary in the sedimentary rock record where the Anthropocene clearly begins., the effort to name and describe rock layers, has become the site of a proxy battle over climate change, environmental change, and how deeply the natural sciences should integrate with history and politics.The International Commission on Stratigraphy, or ICS, is the global governing body that formally names geological eras, associating each rock layer with a specific stretch of time.
But then, in 2000, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen won permanent fame for stratigraphy.
This week’s announcement is not actually about the Anthropocene: The ICS subdivided the Holocene this week, and it said nothing about the Anthropocene.
Except that to some geologists, the subdivision was about the Anthropocene.“I was stunned by this whole thing,” says van der Pluijm, who is a professor of geology at the University of Michigan.
In a paper published earlier this year in the Anthropocene working group’s members strongly imply that they will propose starting the new epoch in the mid-20th century.
Under this scenario, the Holocene would run from the end of the last Ice Age to roughly 1945 or 1950. Like so: There are several good arguments for starting the Anthropocene around 1950.This is particularly noteworthy to the human species, as we have been living in the Holocene for the last 12,000 years.