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Humans Ushered in New Epoch, Scientists Seek to Start a Discussion


A panel of scientists from around the world believes humans have ushered in a new geological epoch that likely started in the 1950s.

According to BBC News, the epoch is currently called the Anthropocene, but the scientists are working to give it an official title and definition. The panel, known as the Anthropocene Working Group, published their findings in the journal Science.

"We're saying that humans are a geological process," study co-author Colin Waters, a geologist with the British Geological Survey in the U.K., told Smithsonian magazine. "We are the dominant geologic force shaping the planet. It's not so much river or ice or wind anymore. It's humans."

The researchers are not seeking to make a final statement on the matter, but rather are trying to cultivate and foster a discussion. Instead of defining the new epoch, the scientists want to establish that the Anthropocene is in fact a new epoch.

"The paper looks at the magnitude of the changes that humanity has made to the planet," Waters told BBC News. "Have they been sufficient to significantly alter the nature of the sediments now being accumulated at present, and are they distinctive from the existing Holocene Epoch that started at the end of the last ice age? That case has now been made.

"Within the Working Group - and we have 37 members - I think the majority of them now agree that we are living in an interval we should call the Anthropocene. There's still some discussion as to whether it should be a formal or informal unit, but we'd like to have a specific definition. And a majority of the group are moving towards the mid-20th Century for the start of this new epoch."

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