“Welcome to the Fabulous Anthropocene!”

Guest commentary by David Middleton

Just to demonstrate that the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) maintains an open mind about things, I thought I would share an recent AAPG Explorer article on the notion of establishing a formal geological epoch in honor of human beings…

Defining the Anthropocene Era

New research identifies epoch-defining ‘golden spike’

February 2018 Barry Friedman, Explorer Correspondent

[…]

According to Jan Zalasiewicz, professor of inaugural lectures and paleobiology at the University of Leicester, a strong proponent of the Anthropocene and a member of the team, the recent work is promising.

[…]

The Debate

The term “Anthropocene” was first coined, almost improvisationally, by Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist, at a conference in 2000 in Mexico City. Literally meaning “the Age of Man,” its origins, according to proponents like Crutzen, began around the middle of the 20th century and rests on the assumption that humans are altering the planet, including long-term global geologic processes, at such an accelerated pace that a new epoch is upon us in the geological time scale.

(The late biologist Eugene Stoermer, who had been using the term informally for years, was quoted in The New York Times back in 2011 as saying he never formalized the term until Crutzen contacted him.)

[…]

The criticism of the Anthropocene comes from those who, for starters, think the term is arrogant in the thinking that human beings are a geologic force on par with nature, in fact superseding it. By proof, critics point to the named epochs covering the last 145 million years and how none are named for the cause of the changes to the planet – until now.

More substantive is this criticism, best described in a 2013 Smithsonian Magazine article by Joseph Stromberg, “What is the Anthropocene and Are We in It?”:

“Many stratigraphers (scientists who study rock layers) criticize the idea, saying clear-cut evidence for a new epoch simply isn’t there. ‘When you start naming geologic-time terms, you need to define what exactly the boundary is, where it appears in the rock strata,’ said Whitney Autin, a stratigrapher at the SUNY College of Brockport, who suggests Anthropocene is more about pop culture than hard science. The crucial question, he said, is specifying exactly when human beings began to leave their mark on the planet: The atomic era, for instance, has left traces of radiation in soils around the globe, while deeper down in the rock strata, agriculture’s signature in Europe can be detected as far back as A.D. 900. The Anthropocene, Autin said, ‘provides eye-catching jargon, but from the geologic side, I need the bare bones facts that fit the code.’”

[…]

AAPG Explorer

AAPG login required to read the full article.

The article drew five comments, none of which were receptive to an Anthropocene Epoch (it would be an epoch, not an era or period, if adopted).  Here are three of the comments, including my own:

Anthropocene
We already have an “Anthropocene.” It’s called the “Holocene.” The only significant difference between the Holocene and the most recent Pleistocene interglacial stages is dominance of human civilization over much of the planet’s surface.
2/27/2018 7:34:42 AM David Middleton
Anthropocenic Detractor
First, I am a climate denier due to my utter disdain for “climate scientists” that have completely ignored the scientific method and drawn conclusions based on policy and consensus. Now, I am an anthropocenic detractor by non scientists (what in the world is a professor of inaugural lectures – and paleobiology?). I mean really, who cares what a crowd of “environmental, anthropological, political, and social” non scientists think about the “age of man” and our effect on the geologic time scale? It starts with “the debate is healthy”, but will quickly progress to the consensus is clear and the debate is closed. Send in the Spanish inquisition for all of the detractors.
2/9/2018 7:22:16 AM
The Anthropocene
Again a legitimate publication like the EXPLORER offers up an article on a piece of non-science and, in turn, makes it look like real science. As was stated in the article, some considered the idea of a time-rock period or epoch called the Anthropocene as nothing more than pop culture. In other words, it’s an idea that some advocates have decided sounds like a good and have decided to push this agenda. You can do all kinds of scientific research and the compilation of information from various pieces of literature, but that doesn’t make the idea of establishing a new time-rock period any more legitimate! To someone who doesn’t understand how the various geologic time boundaries were established, it all seems fine. They believe you can use biological, chemical, physical and any other data to prove that establishing something called the Anthropocene is possible and real. However, the very act of trying to do research that “proves” an idea is an act of strong bias and not scientific. It was also stated in the article that the data for establishing the Anthropocene existed in previous written articles all along. This is nonsense and demonstrates the bias and advocacy of Dr. Zalasiewicz. We should “not be going down this road again.” We tried this with the idea that CO2 is the cause of global warming without considering the physics of the issue, constructing incomplete and faulty climate predictive models and by forgetting the other factors that affect the atmosphere. It was a mistake and cost science very dearly by spreading pseudo-science and junk science over the internet and worldwide. Now we have to contend with advocates from every political and non-science realm who are pushing for mitigation of a gas, to the “tune” of trillions of dollars, that should really be thought of as relatively benign and low in atmospheric concentration when compared to its past atmospheric concentration over the course of the last 2 or 3 billion years!
2/7/2018 8:17:16 PM
One of the things that I noticed about the proponents of the Anthropocene Epoch mentioned in the AAPG article was that none of them were geologists or any other type of geoscientists:
  • Jan Zalasiewicz, professor of inaugural lectures and paleobiology
  • Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist
  • The late biologist Eugene Stoermer

It’s like a group of geologists lobbying to have the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) reclassified as a subspecies of brown bears (Ursus arctos).  While I think the genetic evidence says that polar bears are brown bears with whitish fur… and the fact that they can interbreed with brown bears to produce genetically viable grolar bear cubs makes them the same species… As a geologist, I certainly wouldn’t try to tell biologists how to do their jobs. What’s that?  Oh yeah, I guess I just did.

Back to the Anthropocene

There is still hope that the International Commission on Stratigraphy will reject this nonsense, or at least relegate it to a subdivision of the Holocene (which should, in fact, be a subdivision of the Pleistocene):

What is the ‘Anthropocene’? – current definition and status

  • The ‘Anthropocene’ is a term widely used since its coining by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000 to denote the present time interval, in which many geologically significant conditions and processes are profoundly altered by human activities. These include changes in: erosion and sediment transport associated with a variety of anthropogenic processes, including colonisation, agriculture, urbanisation and global warming. the chemical composition of the atmosphere, oceans and soils, with significant anthropogenic perturbations of the cycles of elements such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and various metals. environmental conditions generated by these perturbations; these include global warming, ocean acidification and spreading oceanic ‘dead zones’. the biosphere both on land and in the sea, as a result of habitat loss, predation, species invasions and the physical and chemical changes noted above.
  • The ‘Anthropocene’ is not a formally defined geological unit within the Geological Time Scale. A proposal to formalise the ‘Anthropocene’ is being developed by the ‘Anthropocene’ Working Group for consideration by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, with a current target date of 2016. Care should be taken to distinguish the concept of an ‘Anthropocene‘ from the previously used term Anthropogene (cf. below**).
  • The ‘Anthropocene’ is currently being considered by the Working Group as a potential geological epoch, i.e. at the same hierarchical level as the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs, with the implication that it is within the Quaternary Period, but that the Holocene has terminated. It might, alternatively, also be considered at a lower (Age) hierarchical level; that would imply it is a subdivision of the ongoing Holocene Epoch.
  • Broadly, to be accepted as a formal term the ‘Anthropocene’ needs to be (a) scientifically justified (i.e. the ‘geological signal’ currently being produced in strata now forming must be sufficiently large, clear and distinctive) and (b) useful as a formal term to the scientific community. In terms of (b), the currently informal term ‘Anthropocene’ has already proven to be very useful to the global change research community and thus will continue to be used, but it remains to be determined whether formalisation within the Geological Time Scale would make it more useful or broaden its usefulness to other scientific communities, such as the geological community.
  • The beginning of the ‘Anthropocene’ is most generally considered to be at c. 1800 CE, around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Europe (Crutzen’s original suggestion); other potential candidates for time boundaries have been suggested, at both earlier dates (within or even before the Holocene) or later (e.g. at the start of the nuclear age). A formal ‘Anthropocene‘ might be defined either with reference to a particular point within a stratal section, that is, a Global Stratigraphic Section and Point (GSSP), colloquially known as a ‘golden spike; or, by a designated time boundary (a Global Standard Stratigraphic Age).
  • The ‘Anthropocene’ has emerged as a popular scientific term used by scientists, the scientifically engaged public and the media to designate the period of Earth’s history during which humans have a decisive influence on the state, dynamics and future of the Earth system. It is widely agreed that the Earth is currently in this state.

ICS Subdivision on Quaternary Stratigraphy

The target date for the ICS to consider the adoption of an Anthropocene Epoch was in 2016, two years ago.  So, this might indicate that the ICS remains unconvinced.

However, the campaign for the Anthropocene Epoch is still alive and well… And totally oblivious to any arguments against their position.  After authoring this post in 2016, I contacted Dr. Colin Waters to verify that they were relying on the Hockey Stick blade in Marcott et al., 2013 as evidence of a Holocene-Anthropocene demarcation.  We had a very cordial and informative email discussion; however they could not understand why the Hockey Stick blade at the end of the Marcott reconstruction was not statistically robust.

The authors of Marcott even realize that their Hockey Stick is broken…

One author, Jeremy Shakun (currently at Harvard) weighed in via Skype for Dot Earth. When more questions came in, the group of authors wrote that they would respond more completely to questions about the work and now they have done so, on the RealClimate blog. Here’s a short excerpt and link to the rest:

Q.

What do paleotemperature reconstructions show about the temperature of the last 100 years?

A.

Our global paleotemperature reconstruction includes a so-called “uptick” in temperatures during the 20th-century. However, in the paper we make the point that this particular feature is of shorter duration than the inherent smoothing in our statistical averaging procedure, and that it is based on only a few available paleo-reconstructions of the type we used. Thus, the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions. Our primary conclusions are based on a comparison of the longer term paleotemperature changes from our reconstruction with the well-documented temperature changes that have occurred over the last century, as documented by the instrumental record. Although not part of our study, high-resolution paleoclimate data from the past ~130 years have been compiled from various geological archives, and confirm the general features of warming trend over this time interval (Anderson, D.M. et al., 2013, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 40, p. 189-193).

Q.

Is the rate of global temperature rise over the last 100 years faster than at any time during the past 11,300 years?

A.

Our study did not directly address this question because the paleotemperature records used in our study have a temporal resolution of ~120 years on average, which precludes us from examining variations in rates of change occurring within a century. Other factors also contribute to smoothing the proxy temperature signals contained in many of the records we used, such as organisms burrowing through deep-sea mud, and chronological uncertainties in the proxy records that tend to smooth the signals when compositing them into a globally averaged reconstruction. We showed that no temperature variability is preserved in our reconstruction at cycles shorter than 300 years, 50% is preserved at 1000-year time scales, and nearly all is preserved at 2000-year periods and longer. Our Monte-Carlo analysis accounts for these sources of uncertainty to yield a robust (albeit smoothed) global record. Any small “upticks” or “downticks” in temperature that last less than several hundred years in our compilation of paleoclimate data are probably not robust, as stated in the paper.

Dot Earth Blog

Even with the acknowledgement that the “uptick” was not statistically robust, Dr. Shakun then proceeded to say that their conclusions were not based on the uptick, but on a comparison of high frequency instrumental temperature data to their low frequency Holocene temperature reconstruction… Which is even worse than relying on the uptick.

I genuinely believe that these folks simply can’t grasp the concept of resolution.  This is a pervasive problem in the climate “science” community and will continued to feed claims of “unprecedented” changes in [fill in the blank] until we have about 1,000 years of high resolution instrumental data.

Featured Image:

Anthropocene_0

‘Habitus’ (2013 – ongoing) is an art installation by Robyn Woolston (robynwoolston.com), commissioned by Edge Hill University, which announces the Anthropocene epoch, Vegas-style. AAPG Explorer.

 

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121 thoughts on ““Welcome to the Fabulous Anthropocene!”

  1. In that case, the whole Siderean Period of the Paleoproterozoic Era should be renamed as the Cyanobacteric Period. No organism has ever had a bigger effect of Earth’s lithosphere, hydrosphere or atmosphere than cyanobacteria.

    Whatever the final effect of humans might be, will surely pale in comparison.

  2. What a load of absolute Jabberwocky. This type of part modernist filth is what happens when Marxists aren’t met with force immediately upon knowledge of their existence. They are weasels that pollute societies.

    Nothing that humans do now will be found 100,000 years from now, save, maybe three things:
    Great Wall, pyramids, and Mount Rushmore. I don’t much will remain of either of those, maybe semblances.
    Everything else will be consumed and indistinguishable from whatever else it’s absorbed into. Man I frigging hate these savages. Seriously folks, these people are the worst kind of Savage, because they get other brutes to do their dirty work, since they wouldn’t know real work if you there then on a construction site.

    Marxism must be eliminated, one and for all. All evidence of that man, his books, and any history that hints at it’s existence needs purged from history. It is a blight upon our species

    • They have entire crews dedicated to repairing the cracks that regularly appear on Mt. Rushmore.
      A thousand years without such maintenance and it won’t be recognizable.

    • It is the bureaucratic mindset.
      1. Pass a law/rule to help you.
      2. Use the rule to help themselves.

      The Puritan experience with common property vs private property should be required reading in every school.

      Marx was a reaction to the problems caused by the concentration of wealth which eventually prices private property out of reach for the individual.

      The problem is that the proposed cure turned out to be as bad as the disease. Similar to what we see with AGW.

      We currently have no solution for the concentration of wealth any more than we do for the concentration of CO2.

      As Facebook shows, the concentration of wealth is at least as big a threat to liberty as the concentration of CO2.

      • The problem is that in hindsight, it’s easy to see how a given problem could be avoided.
        Intellectuals then assume that since they have figured out how ancient problems could have been avoided, they are now wise and intelligent enough to tell everyone how to avoid all future problems.

        As any engineer will tell you, every problem requires a unique solution, while government always tries to force a one size fits all solution onto the whole population.

    • The “Adjustocene”, offered by poster hivemind, is really the best.
      And I do believe Josh has parodied quite nicely before now.

  3. These people have themselves and they hate humanity. I see no reason to be polite. They must be meet with rigidity and zero tolerance. It’s like with any bully, you get in their face and they shut up.

    I’m over their desire to eliminate us

  4. Maybe we can just limit the name to social time demarcations like the stone age, iron age, space age, and information age. All of these “ages” can be lumped into one Anthropo…something. But “cene” really has no standing as its etymology means “new”.
    Anthopocene means “new man” not the “age of man”.
    BTW there’s nothing new about these fools. Their ilk has existed since the dawn of man.

  5. I always thought asphalt and concrete roads, parking lots and highways would become the stratographic marker future geologists would use to identify the bottom of the Anthropocene. I guess best the name of the era should be the asphaltocene?

  6. The “Fabulous Anthropocene” sign needs lights! Lots and lots of gaudy Vegas-style lights. Let’s really warm this puppy up!

  7. I have been considering how to share this, since I am not sure if someone will come after me for it, but it is all too relevant. I got an interesting email last week:

    “The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, Department of Biology and the School of Integrative Studies at Mason are collaborating to develop an integrative undergraduate degree in conservation. We would like your help in coming up with a name for the degree that is exciting and descriptive, and will not become quickly outdated.

    Please use the following link to complete our short survey about which name you like best: [redacted]

    Here is a description of the degree:

    Our new degree will focus on the practice of managing species, their habitats, and the landscape in which they live in the face of the Anthropocene. It will distinguish itself from other conservation degrees by preparing students with fundamental knowledge developed not only from natural sciences but grounded in social sciences and professional competencies. Students will study the biology and ecology of wildlife, how to work globally with diverse communities and stakeholders, and how to resolve conflicts. Our majors will study the social, political and economic aspects of conservation to gain an understanding of the historical factors that have influenced the Anthropocene and what can be done to ensure the long-term persistence of biodiversity and ecosystem function. Undergrads will acquire professional skills in technical writing, group collaboration, oral presentations, and networking. Further, all of our students will gain research or internship experience with state, federal, non-profit, international organizations and/or our own gifted faculty. Our goal is to create ecologically literate citizens and stewards of the world’s natural resources in the face of a changing climate and increasing human population. With a global perspective on biodiversity, our graduates will be prepared to solve complex problems and be successful in careers with environmental agencies and non-government organizations, as well as in graduate programs.”

    There were five suggestions, 3 of which contained “Anthropocene” (which by the way, spell check does not recognize). I ranked those last, then gave a rather scathing reply in the “other” box. I called out the biology department for supporting such unscientific nonsense, said that a degree that was obviously political should not be under the science umbrella, and suggested they be honest and make it clear from the name that this was about advocacy. I think my suggestion was to include a term like “policy” in the title.

    How long do you think I have before someone works out who I am and retaliates?

    • Why not suggest “Social Justice Advocate for the Environment and Other Living Things”? If you’re going to go down for this, go down swinging. And why are they worried that the name will become quickly outdated? The whole notion of the Anthropocene will soon be a fart in a hurricane. Gone with the Wind.

    • AllyKat
      I just got a notice from Sigma Xi about this weekend’s ‘March for Science.’ Will Mason participate?

      “Stop by the Sigma Xi table while you are at AAAS Headquaters to pick up your “I Love Science” button.” “Whether you are at a march or attending other community events, you can show your support for science by wearing a Force for Science t-shirt. Get 20% off using this code at checkout.” S-quaters, no more R’s needed.

      Most were advertised just as the ‘March’ but two in the US caught my attention.
      “The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Chapter is co-organizing a march with the Coalition for Justice.”
      AND from Colorado
      “Mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue is a critical and urgent matter, one that too often has given policymakers cover to reject overwhelming evidence. The March for Science – while non-partisan – is openly political in its call for peer-reviewed evidence based policy, …”
      AND there were a couple from the OLD WORLD
      “Flash mob for science” and “Dance for Science”
      AND
      As a biologist commenting on geology, don’t these stratigraphers have anything better to do? Taxonomists on various categories got together to standardize common names, which was the purpose of scientific names. Only good thing that came out of it was the list of species.

      • March for Science”???? Wow, these people don’t even listen to themselves, do they?

      • I have not seen any emails, and neither the College of Science nor the biology department sites have anything on the calendar or news sections. Even the environmental “science” and policy department site makes no mention of it. (Fun fact: go to their website and you see that they use the abbreviation “ESP”. Not kidding. esp dot gum dot edu)

        Mason can be a bit of an odd duck. There are clearly some crazies, and much of the faculty pays some lip service to global warming, but it is often rather muted. Despite efforts from certain segments, there is not that much of a daily political activist atmosphere. I suspect part of this is the fact that the student population is still fairly local. At least a third commute, and attend Mason (at least in part) to save money. Quite a few students are a little older (mid to late twenties). Many work and go to school part-time, or work and go full-time. People who have had to face the real world and are paying for their own schooling tend to be more pragmatic (in my experience).

        Of course, I have never spent a lot of time outside the science areas. It may be a bit different elsewhere. But there wasn’t a peep about the “march” last year, at least from the biology and geology departments. The geology department did schedule a field trip that day – to go look at fossils in the Shenandoah valley. Draw your own conclusions.

  8. There will be a huge number of well preserved human burials in the same layer. Future archeologists will know we were in charge.

    Then they will blame us for the CO2 apocalypse layer right above ours.

    Hopefully, they won’t find a bunch of buried museums at the same and get all this mixed up with the dinosaurs,

  9. Willis, I just got marching orders to report for work in your neck of the woods. Long way from living on the third coast here in Texas. I look forward to wandering the streets you have written about.

  10. I sort of admire the level of gobbledegook in the “explanation” of the hockey stick blade on the Marcott graph. A fine example of stating the uptick is imaginary, but not quite admitting it.

  11. I only handle shorter time periods, ages, not -cenes. Here is my proposal:
    Stone Age
    Bronze Age
    Iron Age
    Paper Age

    • Yes, place the Anthropocene on a even level with its Holocene analogs:
      Modern Warm Age
      Medieval Warm Age
      Roman Warm Age
      Little Ice Age
      8.2 kyrs Event
      Younger Dyras Event (now that’s an Epoch)

  12. If one is going to blame humans then the period should start when most humans stopped being hunter/gatherers. That is when we evil beings started to upset the natural balance.

    • Ironically nature doesn’t seem to care about “natural balance” as evidenced by the extinction of dinosaurs. If anything it revels in chaos and change. I’m convinced that if humans were prouder and weren’t constantly feeling guilty of everything (what’s with that anyway? Maybe it’s because we are mammals and so caring), we would be claiming that humans taking over the planet is nature’s will. I’m sure there is an alien species somewhere that is strongly driven by “strong must flourish and the weak must perish” -mentality. Not that I agree with that of course.

  13. The Marcott paper was so misused. People just could not grasp why the paper did not say what they believed it to say.

  14. How about “Menckenocene,” for the “period that made H.L. Mencken look like a profit.”

    Personally, I think “Adjustobscene” fits best. Best description of “mock crisis through data manipulation” anyone will come up with.

  15. SUPPORT REQUESTED

    Anthony. I really hope you don’t mind, but I was sacked today from a job as an Ambulance Care Assistant in the UK.

    We transport often desperately sick individuals from their home to hospital, and back again, for some, it’s a one way trip. The organisation I work for is commercial, working under contract to the National Health Service (NHS).

    I don’t do the job for the money (£8.02 per hour), I’m 61 and semi retired, but I’m an ex cop who enjoys public service and I’m not willing to lie down and wait for the Pearly Gates.

    Long story short.

    I was sacked during my 6 month probationary period because

    1. I argued with a manager that I could park in a public car park, where I wanted. Whilst he maintained I must park away from ‘management’ cars because I’m subordinate to him.

    2. I’m argumentative (see point 1.)

    3. On the morning of the trumped up probationary review (there has never been one conducted before mine) an unnamed individual piped up and said they don’t like my work ethic. How convenient!

    That’s the case for the termination of my employment. Sadly, I’m more articulate than most of the guys in the base I work from. They endure appalling conditions and are exposed to disease and conditions they transport back to their families because lockers are being eliminated. But they don’t have the wherewithal to object.

    All I ask is that perhaps a sympathetic lawyer write to my employer on my behalf to expose the extraordinary injustice of this.

    In the three months I have been employed, I have received no complaints from colleagues, management, nor patients.

    I was sacked because I was a pain in the arse to management. Too bad. I suspect every contributor to this site identifies with being a pain in the arse.

    If it’s no go, feel free to delete this, you can’t have everyone pleading their case here, and I perfectly understand that.

    Thanks anyway.

    HotScot.

  16. Has anyone extrapolated Marcott et al’s graph from 2013 to where it is now?

    Have we passed the temperature of the sun yet?

  17. Here’s a thought: if we all go belly up in thermonuclear Armageddon, all that will be left to see of our civilization in the geological record in millions of years from now is a thin layer of radioactive dust with perhaps the occasional scrap of plastic debris.

  18. Should this politically-motivated proposal be seriously considered, I think that the question that should be asked is, “What would the designation of ‘Anthropocene’ contribute to the common geological tasks of mapping exposed strata, understanding the historical modification of stratigraphy, or providing insight on the evolution of life and the development of paleo-ecosystems?” If ‘Anthropocene” does not facilitate or contribute to the furtherance of geological goals, then the idea should be summarily dismissed. Let the climatologists use it as they see fit — along with “ocean acidification,” “Tipping Point,” and “Anthropogenic Global Warming” — but not burden serious Earth scientists with political baggage that will only make their job harder.

  19. ” … I genuinely believe that these folks simply can’t grasp the concept of resolution. .. ”

    I used to think that also, then I realised they really do understand climate resolution, but are just genuinely shamelessly dishonest people.

    The very assertion that the satellite era captures ‘global climate change’ is a sure-fire sign that the person asserting that satellites do measure climate change, is a shameless fraudster. Wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    There is no way such people are ‘climate scientists’.

  20. The Russian-Ukrainian scientist Vernadsky in 1938 already saw this, some of which overlaps with the current Anthropocene Working Group, not all of course. A much better scientific term is Noosphere, which he saw starting sometime during WWII.

    http://vernadsky.name/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Scientific-thought-as-a-planetary-phenomenon-V.I2.pdf

    The biosphere already totally transformed the planet – the noosphere already is speeding that tremendously…
    It is this that the AGW are railing against, their very nature. And not just the AGW but an entire swamp – needs draining pronto!

    • How could human psychology be expressed in the stratigraphic record?

      The noosphere (/ˈnoʊ.əsfɪər/; sometimes noösphere) is the sphere of human thought.[1][2] The word derives from the Greek νοῦς (nous “mind”) and σφαῖρα (sphaira “sphere”), in lexical analogy to “atmosphere” and “biosphere”.[3] It was introduced by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in 1922[4] in his Cosmogenesis.[5] Another possibility is the first use of the term by Édouard Le Roy (1870–1954), who together with Teilhard was listening to lectures of Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky at the Sorbonne.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noosphere

      Anthropocene, as goofy as it is, is a time period that must be defined by chronostratigraphic markers in the sedimentary rocks, sediments and soils of the Earth.

      The sphere of human thought isn’t an expression of time, nor does it have any physical manifestations. There is no possibility of a geological definition of a noosphere time period.

      Although it does share the anthropocentric hubris of the Anthropocene.

      • Life, the biosphere has physical mainfestations – the entire crust and atmosphere for example. Ozone another. Vernadsky was the first to recognize the time speedup over geochemistry- bigeochemistry. Then the noosphere, like life – just look population density changes. Farming, although before the noosphere, already changed everything. Now with transportation, electricity , cities , economics is critical (when not smashed) . Instead of waiting geological eons for a river , move it in a few years. We have already extended to nearby, resulting in all the talk here of weather , the sun, radiation etc. Vernadsky measured the biogeochemical migration of atoms – the rate speeds up. The noosphere ups the ante beyond any biological process. So “time” is indeed relative in a very profound way…

      • Human economic activity is totally changing the surface, faster than any biogeochemical “sedimentary” process. The point is the speedup. It won’t wait for geologists.
        Human reason, and the use of fire – energy dense processes (which after all is mostly carbon based for the moment) is the point. For example bronze is an alloy that never existed before reason intervened. Steel likewise (with added carbon). Major rivers can be harnessed – hydropower. All electric power, and internal combustion engines have a major impact. Reason “itself” cannot move atoms – but we can move vast quantities , transform them, burn them. There is the apparent paradox.
        You cannot kick a biosphere but it sure does have a way of changing a planet. For that matter no one has kicked a “gravity” either…
        The resistance to diverting part of the Congo to drying Chad is from a belief in eons old geologic timescales, a reluctance to embrace the noosphere. I do not know what the AWG say about that – it’s worth a question.

      • You’re totally missing the point. “-spheres” are places. The various spheres of Earth activities have physical locations: athenosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere.

        “-cenes” are epoch-scale geologic time periods within the Cenozoic Era: Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, Holocene. These epochs have clearly defined chronostratigraphic boundaries in the rock/sedimentary record.

        The point of this post is whether or not an Anthropocene Epoch, distinct from the Holocene Epoch, geologically justified… No whether or not humans have had an impact on the planet.

      • Anthropocene Working Group , AWG, is nominally not the AGW global warming crowd although some are….
        Better to say noosphere to clarify the position.

      • And what was COP21 other than an insane attempt to reverse the noosphere? The entire rabid climate freakshow is just part of that. It seems there are other attacks in the making….

      • ” Nobody and nothing under the natural laws of this universe [can] impose any limitations on man, except man himself.”

      • It should be clear from Vernadsky the AWG missed the point. The biosphere went through various ‘cenes’ – not to split hairs and all. The Noosphere of the Anthropocene intensified around WWII (tragically ironic). Before that very tentative. The attempt to view this “geologically” is the same error viewing the biosphere geologically, instead of biogeochemically.
        The AWG approach needs to be contrasted to Vernadsky, rather than simple setting up a straw dog for entertainment here, a rear-guard action.
        The point of the post is misplaced – instead there is a very serious theme , concerning us all. Not a good idea to blot over this with the AWG effort. The entire climate, ozone, co2 (endless series…) , from club of rome , cops21 and now a “geologic” anthropocene, are actually all of a feather.
        In fact these rabid attempts are “cenes” of the early Noosphere – notice they occur rapidly, and go extinct like most species of the biosphere in various “cenes”. Look at the number of civilizations that went extinct. The whole post, by the way very useful, should and can put the start reality of actually being right now in a ‘cene’ ourselves starkly on the table. I think it does actually. Most shy away from that…

      • You’re simply failing to grasp the concept of formal chronostratigraphic nomenclature. Even if the “Noosphere” was a real thing, it would have nothing to do with stratigraphy or geologic time.

      • David,
        It has been said that “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Bonbon has his/her/its own agenda.

      • Clyde,

        I just think that most people aren’t familiar with stratigraphy and the concepts of deep tine and resolution.

    • Realclimate blog. What is that?
      ====
      Science by consensus. We took a vote and all agree we are right. If you deny we are right then you are a denier. Since you are a denier you are wrong and a racist for disagreeing. We will not debate this as this matter is settled science and thus fact beyond dispute. QED

  21. I love the sign–evocative of the 50s, when the future was going to be entirely good because of science.

    Going even more OT, we lived in a small town in Minnesota where one of the “beauty saolons” was called Fashionette Concepts. I don’t know if it went back to the 50s or not, but it would fit.

  22. On David M. vs. bonbon: I no doubt stand to be corrected on a lot of this. There is a lot of man-made stuff in space, on the moon, on Mars. Some of it is deemed by its creators as “junk.” Does this change anything about the definition or meaning of space, or the physical makeup of the moon or Mars? Only as a figure of speech–perhaps a useful reminder of how small our stuff is by comparison. It’s more like a secondary part of a briefing for those who go up: by the way, you’ll encounter some junk. Does the Great Wall, visible from space, affect anything about geologic eras in China? I take it the bronze and steel objects humans have made are similar. Some of them will be dug up, some day (especially steel), but they don’t affect sedimentation on ocean bottoms, transforming of sediments by plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, massive glaciation and then retreat, formation of mountain ranges, etc. Whether ancient rock is exposed at the surface or not does not change the age of that rock, or how it was formed by massive geologic forces. Agriculture turned many acres of forest into crops; I guess someday this will affect the development of coal deposits, and beyond that, over a longer period, diamonds. Not on short time scales. David has written before about how a “mass species extinction” would be a major event–sooner or later turning up in fossil beds. By definition, that hasn’t happened in the last century, or anytime in the Holocene. The warmists think they are talking about changes that used to occur only on geologic scales: flooding much of what is now land, generations of drought where there are now forests or crops, mass species extinction. But none of these things have happened, are happening, or can be linked to man-made CO2 or any other “anthropogenic” factor.

    • This is how the boundary between the two lowest stages of the Pleistocene Epoch is defined…

      The Calabrian Stage is now formally defined by the Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) at Vrica, Calabria, Italy. This GSSP had previously defined the base of the Pleistocene Series. The Calabrian becomes the second stage of the Pleistocene Series and Quaternary System, following the Gelasian. The GSSP
      occurs at the base of the marine claystone conformably overlying sapropelic bed ‘e’ within Segment B in the Vrica section. This lithological level represents the primary marker for the recognition of the boundary, and is assigned an astronomical age of 1.80 Ma on the basis of sapropel calibration. It coincides with the transition from Marine Isotope Stage 65 to 64, and the underlying sapropel bed ‘e’ is assigned to the Mediterranean Precession-Related Sapropel layer 176. Secondary markers include calcareous plankton bioevents of widely distributed taxa. The boundary falls between the highest occurrence of Discoaster brouweri (below) and the lowest common occurrence of left-coiling Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (above), and below the lowest occurrences of medium-sized Gephyrocapsa (including G. oceanica) and Globigerinoides tenellus. The top of the Olduvai Subchron is identified c. 8 m above the GSSP. Ratification of the Calabrian Stage effectively completes the Lower Pleistocene Subseries.

      http://www.stratigraphy.org/gssp/index.html

      There is no equivalent definable boundary between the Holocene and the “Anthropocene”… So the Anthro- doesn’t even merit a distinct age/stage, much less an epoch/series.

      • How clear is the boundary between the geosphere and biosphere, earliest ‘cene’ epoch? Seems to me we find evidence of life as far back as we can look. And the fingerprint of life, chirality we find even off planet. That is to point out we are looking not at stages of one “phase” but at distinct states or “phases”.

      • Exactly the point. The Post has nothing to do with the epoch we live right now in. But we do in fact live in a noospheric epoch. Looking at sediments is avoiding the entire point. The AWG is shirking this stark reality which makes their effort the next in series after co2. No one thinks they will stop with co2, right?
        At least their efforts are getting threadbare as the series converges on a nothing burger.

    • Almost all civilizations went extinct, a striking parallel to the biosphere. Why that is so Vernadsky looks at from a noospheric view. I would call the collapse of Angkor Wat or Mohenjo Daro extinction events, and the best known is the Roman collapse , the idol of the current global civilization pushing warmism, Gaia, ecosuicide, and of course eco-crucifixes.
      Meanwhile we are tentatively embracing near space, something the biosphere never would (although it does affect it). What should we call that immanent “cene” – the Solarcene?

  23. People working with recent sediments have always included Man as factor behind things of course, and handled it, without urgent need to pinpoint some _universal_ beginning of it. If done, and used, seems it would merely introduce lengthy caveats about anthropogenic influence before (and non-anthropogenic after) the demarcation.

    • The entire point of stratigraphy and the geologic time scale is to “pinpoint some _universal_ beginning” and end to each time period.

      The concept of an Anthropocene Epoch is being pitched to the International Commison on Stratigraphy for recognition as a distinct epoch within the Quaternary Period. This reqiures them to “pinpoint some _universal_ beginning” of a global stratigraphic unit… The universal beginning literally has to be “written in stone.”

  24. How about “technofossils” as Vernadsky proposed? Surely since WWII when the noosphere really activated, a very short time ago geologically speaking, aluminium, and even further back with ceramics, man’s use of fire (after all that defines man), cultivated pollens, even stratigraphers would notice. The term anthropocene has widely variant intention.

    • Short answer: No.
      Long answer: Not stratigraphy.

      The utility of the Anthropocene requires careful consideration by its various potential users. Its concept is fundamentally different from the chronostratigraphic units that are established by ICS in that the documentation and study of the human impact on the Earth system are based more on direct human observation than on a stratigraphic record. The drive to officially recognize the Anthropocene may, in fact, be political rather than scientific.

      […]

      Stratigraphic Record of the Anthropocene
      In contrast to all other units of the ICS chart, the concept of the Anthropocene did not derive from the stratigraphic record. It arose with Paul Crutzen (2002), a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, who suggested that because of a greatly increased human impact on the Earth system, we had entered a new epoch, for which he proposed the term Anthropocene. Zalasiewicz et al. (2008) considered the effects referred to by Crutzen and raised the question of whether the effects justified the need for a new term, and if so, where and how its boundary might be placed. The ICS Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy established a working group in 2009 to consider these questions. Since then, discussion of the Anthropocene has been extensive, with articles in both scientific publications and the public media, as well as in the greater academic sphere, including the social sciences and the legal community.

      Summaries of anthropogenic changes to the Earth system and their occurrence in the stratigraphic record can be found in Zalasiewicz et al. (2008, 2011) and Waters et al. (2014a, 2014b). That stratigraphic record is negligible (Walker et al., 2015), especially with a boundary set at 1945, as recently proposed by the Anthropocene working group (Zalasiewicz et al., 2015). Most of the stratigraphic records mentioned are potential records that might appear in the future; they are based on predictions. Human structures, excavations, boreholes, bioturbation of soils (agriculture) and the sea floor (drag net fishing) are not strata. Made ground, refuse piles, mine dumps, and leach pads are made by humans rather than by natural sedimentation. The strata with records of anthropogenic change are speleothems, ice cores, and non-lithified sediments of rivers, marshes, lakes, coasts, and the ocean floor. In most of these depositional settings, it would be difficult to distinguish the upper few centimeters of sediment from the underlying Holocene, or sediment that has accumulated versus that that is in transit. Published logs with geochemical signatures of human impact are at most a few tens of centimeters thick (Nozaki et al., 1978; Al-Rousan et al., 2004; Marshall et al., 2007). Locating a boundary at 1945 would be difficult for anthropogenic isotope shifts in greenhouse gases that have been rising for 100 years or more (Wolff, 2014).

      http://www.geosociety.org/gsatoday/archive/26/3/article/i1052-5173-26-3-4.htm#toclink5

      If you move the proposed stratigraphic boundary further in time, the human stratigraphic “footprint” would be less distinct. The Holocene only comprises about 12,000 years. The human footprint is present throughout the Holocene.

      • Of course the AWG drive is political, like the CO2 hoax. But in all this collective fog the fact that we do have a major impact is a scientific question. What physical process is at work that we are a part of? Why is it so desperately attacked with rabid hoaxes? The mad rush to war, even nuclear war is a sure sign of utter desperation that the noosphere is in fact readying itself for a major advance – without the fossil empire, which like reptiles know they are simply going extinct (some remain of course as oddities). Vernadsky was sure the anthropocene as he defined it would not be reversed. Stagnation is not ruled out – witness 30 years of limits to growth. Its motion continues.
        Something like the biosphere’s rush to an O2 atmosphere like a “firehose” : https://phys.org/news/2018-03-two-billion-year-old-salt-reveals-oxygen-ancient.html
        is at work but not a simple analogue. Sediments are history.

      • “The fact that we do have a major impact is a scientific question.” It’s just not a question that should be answered by breaking every convention of stratigraphy in order to fabricate a geological epoch distinct from the Holocene… which shouldn’t have been differentiated from the Pleistocene in the first place.

      • Not only the holocene (whole epoch – sounds daft) but its 5 chronozones based on climatic fluctuations seems to overlap the anthropocene. That’s all official ICS jargon.

      • The ICS does not recognize any formal subdivisions of the Holocene…

        http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org/workinggroups/holocene/

        The 5 subdivisions are informal and only relevant to Europe and North America…

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene

        The Holocene is the only series/epoch scale unit that has not been subdivided.

        There are substantial differences between the Holocene and prior Pleistocene interglacial stages… the rise of human civilizations and the extinction of the megafauna. The Holocene *is* the Anthropocene. However, if I was a voting member of the ICS, I would vote to demote the Holocene to a stage/age from an epoch/series.

        One of the problems with the geologic time scale is the decrease in granularity as you go further back in time. This yields a false impression that the pace of change has increased over geologic time.

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