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Human Epoch: What Happens To Earth In A Few Million Years?

First Posted: Jan 12, 2016 03:35 PM EST

In a few million years from now, Earth may experience a "human" epoch, according to a recent study. Researchers have found evidence, which indicates that human activities may have a massive impact on the Earth's species and atmosphere.

The researchers gathered a massive body of data, which indicates that the Anthropocene Epoch started during the 20th century, which increased the production of materials, like plastic, aluminum and concrete for instance. As a result this increased greenhouse gas emissions, where it also influenced the populations of many species.

The Anthropocene Epoch is a distinct period from the previous Holocene Epoch, which began 11,500 years ago. The anthropocene period has been used to demonstrate how human activities impact Earth's geology. The Holocene Epoch marked the beginning for the "Age of Man."

The researchers found that human activities have resulted in a pervasive and persistent effect on the Earth, which is now recognized as a new geological time unit. The prolonged and widespread geological record of the Anthropocene will include stratigraphic layers of human products like concrete and plastic. Pollution from gases, fertilizers, pesticides and nuclear waste will be some of the global markers of the Anthropocene. Population growth, industrialization and energy consumption result in a vast reshape of the Earth's coastal sedimentation along with widespread extinction of many species, according to the researchers.

"Not only would this represent the first instance of a new epoch having been witnessed firsthand by advanced human societies, it would be one stemming from the consequences of their own doing," the researchers wrote, in a news release.

The findings of this study were published in the journal Science.

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