The Rise of Humans: The Anthropocene Epoch is Backed by Hard Evidence

First Posted: Jan 08, 2016 11:24 AM EST

Scientists have now found overwhelming evidence for human impact driving the current epoch on our planet Earth. Researchers have discovered that the Anthropocene, which started in the mid-20th century, is marked by the spread of materials that were influenced by humans.

The Holocene Epoch has lasted for the past 11,700 years. It was during this time period that human civilization first developed. Humans gradually domesticated the land to increase food production, built urban settlements and became proficient at developing the water, mineral and energy resources of the planet.

"Humans have long affected the environment, but recently there has been a rapid global spread of novel materials including aluminum, concrete and plastics, which are leaving their mark in sediments," said Collin Waters, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Fossil-fuel combustion has dispersed fly ash particles worldwide, pretty well coincident with the peak distribution of the 'bomb spike' of radionuclides generated by atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons."

All of this evidence underlies that there's a reality to the Anthropocene Epoch.

In this latest study, the researchers looked at the Earth system and how humans have impacted it. They found that humans have changed the system sufficiently to produce a range of signals in sediments and ice, and these are sufficiently distinctive to justify recognition of an Anthropocene Epoch in the Geological Time Scale.

The findings show that we are, indeed in a new Epoch. It also shows how much humans can influence their environment.

The findings are published in the journal Science.

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