Scientists agree humans officially caused a new geological epoch - Earth's first in 11,500 years

Human industrialisation over the past century means Earth is in its first new geological epoch in 11,500 years.

This is the agreed view of The Working Group on the Anthropocene, who say the human spread of plastics, metals and concrete, as well as climate change, has created the Anthropocene epoch which we live in now.

A geological epoch is a time unit used in measuring the age of rocks and fossils, by understanding what characterised the earth at the time. The team of 35 scientists voted and concluded the contemporary changes to global systems were significant enough for the new age to be proclaimed, which is defined by human domination on the planet.

The Anthropocene has been debated by scientists since the phrase was coined by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000, but this is the biggest official decision on the matter.

The epoch which the scientists say we just left is known as the Holocene epoch and began in 9,700 BC, but previous epochs such as the Pleistocene lasted millions of years. Scientists are now working to find what they call a “golden spike”, a physical reference point on Earth used to define the start of the era.

Professor Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester was part of the group and told the Daily Telegraph: “Human action has certainly left traces on the earth for thousands of years, if you know where to look.”

“The difference between that and what has happened in the last century or so is that the impact is global and taking place at pretty much the same time across the whole Earth. It is affecting the functioning of the whole Earth system.”

More in this Section

Hong Kong descends into chaos as protesters defy rally banHong Kong descends into chaos as protesters defy rally ban

Boeing says it regrets concerns over internal 737 Max messagesBoeing says it regrets concerns over internal 737 Max messages

Showdown for Johnson on crunch vote as Labour seeks to hijack Brexit legislationShowdown for Johnson on crunch vote as Labour seeks to hijack Brexit legislation

Australian newspapers campaign against government secrecyAustralian newspapers campaign against government secrecy


Carol O’Callaghan continues her round-up of home interior shops in country towns and the outer reaches of our cities, finding more treasure troves which offer something new and a touch of exclusivityMade in Munster: The best interior shops in country towns

When the Irish Examiner broke the news that an ultra-inquisitive deer photobombed newlyweds at Killarney’s Ladies View the story went viral.Wedding of the Week: Time for Australian celebrations for bride and groom photobombed by deer

At the start of the 10th and final episode of Confronting: OJ Simpson, a series which has been downloaded over five million times since launching in June, host Kim Goldman is in tears, talking to her father about how strong he was through the murder of her brother, his son,Ron Goldman.Podcast Corner: Host relives brother’s death in famous case

Thomas McCarthy pays tribute to his late friend — poet and journalist Seán Dunne'Seán Dunne was one of the most loved people I ever knew'

More From The Irish Examiner