Anthropocene: “it will be the rocks that have the final say” about this fake word.

Guest geology by David Middleton

The fake geologic epoch known as the “Anthropocene” just won’t die… It’s like a zombie from a bad science fiction movie.

NEWS FEATURE  06 AUGUST 2019

Humans versus Earth: the quest to define the Anthropocene
Researchers are hunting for nuclear debris, mercury pollution and other fingerprints of humanity that could designate a new geological epoch.


Crawford Lake is so small it takes just 10 minutes to stroll all the way around its shore. But beneath its surface, this pond in southern Ontario in Canada hides something special that is attracting attention from scientists around the globe. They are in search of a distinctive marker buried deep in the mud — a signal designating the moment when humans achieved such power that they started irreversibly transforming the planet. The mud layers in this lake could be ground zero for the Anthropocene — a potential new epoch of geological time.

This lake is unusually deep for its size so its waters never fully mix, which leaves its bottom undisturbed by burrowing worms or currents. Layers of sediment accumulate like tree rings, creating an archive reaching back nearly 1,000 years.

[…]

Given how much people have done to the planet, there are many potential markers. “Scientifically, in terms of evidence, we’re spoiled for choice, but we have to pin it down,” says Jan Zalasiewicz, a palaeobiologist at the University of Leicester, UK, and chair of the AWG.

[…]

Once they pick their representative marker, researchers working with the AWG need to gather enough evidence from around the world to convince the governing bodies of geoscience that they have found a truly reliable signal for the start of the Anthropocene. But some scientists argue that human activity has been shaping the planet for thousands of years, and that the working group has settled too quickly on the 1950s for the start of the proposed epoch. Erle Ellis, a geographer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and an AWG member, has criticized the committee’s plans for designating the start of the Anthropocene. “The AWG decided the timing of the boundary before deciding on the marker, not the other way around,” says Ellis.

Hard evidence
In the end, it will be the rocks that have the final say.

[…]

After a decade of investigating this question, the AWG decided in May that humans had, in fact, left an indelible geological mark. In a binding vote in May, 29 of the 34 members opted to move forward with developing a proposal supporting the designation of the Anthropocene.

The AWG’s next task is to put forward a formal proposal identifying a global boundary stratotype section and point (GSSP), or ‘golden spike’…

[…]

In its recent vote, the AWG members decided overwhelmingly to pursue a GSSP in the mid-twentieth century.

[…]

A series of votes
Like the stratigraphic record that the researchers are studying, the decision to officially designate the Anthropocene is multilayered. The AWG aims to present a final proposal identifying a mid-twentieth-century GSSP to its parent body, the Quaternary Subcommission of the ICS, by 2021. If approved, the proposal will be voted on by the ICS and will then proceed to the executive committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) for final ratification. Only if it passes all these hurdles will the Anthropocene officially become a new unit of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart, more commonly known as the Geological Time Scale. So far, all 65 GSSPs that have been ratified are from marine environments, except for the one marking the start of the Holocene, which uses a Greenland ice core.

The formal process has moved much more slowly than has popular culture, which has already embraced the Anthropocene and used the term on everything from record albums to magazine covers. But the AWG is clear that its mandate is to make decisions based on the stratigraphic record alone.

Not everyone is convinced it can do that yet. One sore point is that the working group made a decision on when to set the boundary, even though it had not yet settled on a golden spike in the stratigraphic record. “It is an imposition of ideas onto matter, shaping evidence to fit, but it should be the other way around,” says Matt Edgeworth, an archaeologist at the University of Leicester.

Edgeworth is a member of the AWG but voted against the decision to recognize the Anthropocene.

[…]

Nature

There’s no agenda here…

Did I need the /SARC tag?

Despite being populated with activists like Naomi Oreskes, it has taken the AWG ten years to vote on what their conclusion will be and to start looking for evidence to support their conclusion… And the vote wasn’t unanimous.

Here’s where the Anthropocene dies…

The AWG aims to present a final proposal identifying a mid-twentieth-century GSSP to its parent body, the Quaternary Subcommission of the ICS, by 2021. If approved, the proposal will be voted on by the ICS and will then proceed to the executive committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) for final ratification. Only if it passes all these hurdles will the Anthropocene officially become a new unit of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart, more commonly known as the Geological Time Scale. So far, all 65 GSSPs that have been ratified are from marine environments, except for the one marking the start of the Holocene, which uses a Greenland ice core.

Nature

The geologic time scale is based on the stratigraphic record, generally found in “rocks”.  The Holocene Epoch shouldn’t even be an epoch.  It should be an interglacial stage within the Upper Pleistocene, rather than an epoch of equal stature to the Pleistocene. The Pleistocene-Holocene boundary, so clear in the NGRIP ice core, loses all of its uniqueness in Antarctic ice cores, which capture multiple Late Quaternary glacial-interglacial transitions.

Assuming the AWG is ever able to put forward a coherent proposal for an Anthropocene epoch starting in the mid-20th century, they face some high hurdles in getting it ratified.

In the end, it will be the rocks that have the final say.

Nature

There aren’t a lot of sedimentary rocks that are only 60-70 years old.

The recent subdivision of the Holocene was based on a formal recommendation from a Working Group and was approved by >60% votes of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy and the ICS Bureau, followed by ratification by the IUGS Executive Committee.

Figure 4 from Finney & Edwards.  “Workflow for approval and ratification of a Global Standard Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) proposal. Extensive discussion and evaluation occurs at the level of the working group, subcommission, and International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) Bureau. If approved at these successive levels, a proposal is forwarded to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) for ratification. This process is also followed for other ICS decisions on standardization, such as approval of names of formal units, of revisions to the units, and to revision or replacement of GSSPs.”

This leads us to the reason that the Anthropocene will almost certainly never be recognized as a formal geologic time period…

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.

Finney & Edwards, 2016

Dr. Stanley Finney is the Secretary General of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), which would have to ratify any formal changes to the geologic time scale. Dr. Finney’s term as the elected president of the IUGS runs through 2020… I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the AWG plans to present their formal recommendation in 2021?

References

Finney, Stanley C. & Lucy E. Edwards. “The “Anthropocene” epoch: Scientific decision or political statement?” GSA Today, 2016; 26 (3): 4 DOI: 10.1130/GSATG270A.1

Walker, M. , Johnsen, S. , Rasmussen, S. O., Popp, T. , Steffensen, J. , Gibbard, P. , Hoek, W. , Lowe, J. , Andrews, J. , Björck, S. , Cwynar, L. C., Hughen, K. , Kershaw, P. , Kromer, B. , Litt, T. , Lowe, D. J., Nakagawa, T. , Newnham, R. and Schwander, J. (2009), “Formal definition and dating of the GSSP (Global Stratotype Section and Point) for the base of the Holocene using the Greenland NGRIP ice core, and selected auxiliary records”. J. Quaternary Sci., 24: 3-17. doi:10.1002/jqs.1227

What’s more fake than an Anthropocene Epoch?

An Anthropocene Era.

‘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.

The Anthropocene Era really would have been truly fabulous… for its brevity.

  • Paleozoic Era: 541 to 252 million years ago, 289 million years.
  • Mesozoic Era: 252 to 66 million years ago, 186 million years.
  • Cenozoic Era:  66 million to 73 years ago, 65.999927 million years.
  • Anthropocene Era: 1945-2018, 0.000073 million years.

I really couldn’t make this sort of schist up if I was trying.

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128 thoughts on “Anthropocene: “it will be the rocks that have the final say” about this fake word.

    • We can call it the Method Social Scientific. It differs from the Scientific Method in that you reach an unassailable socialist conclusion and then manufacture all the evidence you need to promote it. It comes complete with its own Inter-governmental Panel assigned and housed in the UN building.

      Then you regale all those who contribute to the supposition and derail all who question it with the complete support of the Primary Media outlets acting as the Publicity Department for the Newscience.

      • Except the ICS and IUGS aren’t governmental anythings. The purpose of the ICS is to standardize stratigraphic nomenclature. Before an Anthropocene Epoch or any other level of geologic time can be adopted, the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) has to put forward a coherent geological proposal with a Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP). The Sub-commission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, the ICS and IUGS would all have to ratify this by >60% votes.

        The AWG was established in 2009 and has yet to put forward a coherent recommendation. It is unlikely that they ever will and even if they did, it’s unlikely to be ratified at any level.

        • Oh now you want to be serious?

          You do understand that this whole thing is laughable fodder for the Misinformation Mafia in the mainstream media. You know aka the Propaganda Ministry. They have a separate Department for CAGW Publicity.

          The AWGs and the ICSs and JUGs and IUDs areall bureaucrats with buttons at conferences on per diem (another word for other peoples money). This is all one great big joke played by officious idiots looking for funding. A make work project to pull wool over taxpayers eyes.

          • It’s actually an essential part of geology. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to do my job if there was no standardization of geological nomenclature.

  1. The trouble is that this sort of fake and fictitious idea like the ‘Anthropocene’ Era is very easy to make up, just like a pocket pulp novel and once it gets into people’s imagination, it becomes a meme, or lives like a zombie or a new King Kong from a bad science fiction movie.

    • That is because the Propaganda Press breathes life into this nonsense and if it goes into arrest they hit it with shock paddles. CLEAR!

  2. Naomi Oreskes is a Professor of the History of Science. Kind of scary.

    “He who controls the past, controls the future; and he who controls the present, controls the past.” George Orwell, 1984.

  3. The Ajustocene is obviously snark, but the Athropocene is purely Political Correctness. After the infamous old political joke–I know this is factually correct, Comrade, but is it Politically Correct?

  4. I really couldn’t make this sort of schist up if I was trying.

    Well, I took that for granite.

    I’m surprised. The usual SJW modus operandi would be to try to get Dr. Finney fired and to get his pension revoked and trump up some charges to get him thrown in jail. Why the kid gloves?

  5. The Anthropocene nonsense is case of let’s call the post 1945 period something that fits with our doomist view of life then go out and try and find things that prove it exists.

    It’s impossible to distinguish the “Anthropocene” geologically.
    The Holocene [the last 11,650 years and “now”] is difficult enough.
    It’s really just an interglacial…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene
    An interglacial that includes a period warmer then now..https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_climatic_optimum
    Interestingly another name that has been used for the Holocene is Anthropogene….pretty much the same as Anthropocene.

    “Paleontologists have defined no faunal stages for Holocene. If subdivision is necessary, periods of human technological development such as Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic are usually used.”

    Maybe perhaps, in a million years archeologists and geologists [of some species] working along ancient road networks might be able to define marker beds…bottles being replaced by cans, steel cans replaced by aluminium cans, the appearance of cassette tapes and rapid disappearace [that was a species that rose to prominence and quickly went extinct], the appearance of McDonalds packaging, the appearance of coffee cups and so on.

    • GregK let’s don’t forget our pre-Columbian Indian friends who left kitchen middens all along the Pacific Coast. Judging from the charcoal and shells they ate pretty well, and these kitchen middens are easy to identify.

    • ” … let’s call the post 1945 period something that fits with our doomist view of life then go out and try and find things that prove it exists. ”

      Isn’t this the charter of the IPCC as it fabricates science in support the UNFCCC?

    • While not called ages or stages, in July 2018 the International Union of Geological Sciences split the Holocene epoch into three distinct subsections proposed by the International Commission on Stratigraphy: Greenlandian (11,700 to 8326 years ago), Northgrippian (8326 to 4200 years ago) and Meghalayan (4200 years ago to the present).

      The boundary stratotype (GSSP) of the Meghalayan is a speleothem in Krem Mawmluh Cave, India. The global auxiliary stratotype is an ice core from Mount Logan, Canada.

      Real geological ages or stages can last millions of years within even longer epochs. For instance, the Late Cretaceous Epoch contains the six ages, the last two of which cover 11.5 (Campanian) and 6.1 (Maastrichtian) million years.

      The Maastrichtian boasted the formidable, familiar T. rex and Triceratops, while the Campanian got by with their tyrannosaur and ceratopsian ancestors and kin.

  6. The proposed Anthropocene is supposed to be when humans started making major permanent changes to the earth? What about early man, oops sorry, I mean early person hunting North American megafauna to extinction about ten thousand years ago?

  7. David Middleton says:

    “The Holocene Epoch shouldn’t even be an epoch. It should be an interglacial stage within the Upper Pleistocene, rather than an epoch of equal stature to the Pleistocene.”

    I agree. We are still in the Pleistocene. There is nothing unique about the current interglacial period as compared to the last several, with the possible exception of one or two dozen large mammal extinctions that occurred around the time of the Younger Dryas. It is quite likely that another glacial period will begin possibly as early as a few thousand years from now or sooner. Will the next glacial period in our current Ice Age be given a new Epoch designation? And also the subsequent interglacial period? Doesn’t make good sense to me.

  8. What is the Anthropocene *for*? What *geological* problem does defining it address?

  9. I like Plasticene better than Anthro whatever, but we don’t need a new name until the layer of human bones is thick enough to show up. Like in the walls of the Grand Canyon

    • A layer of bones and plastic will be the future unconformity of The Anthropocene, hardly an Era.

  10. This should be a perfect opportunity to point out the dangerously low levels of CO2 in the Anthropogenic samples. 410 PPM….and compare it to the vastly higher saturations in previous epochs and eras of 8,000 PPM and more in the Cambrian and show it dying away to the almost record low that it is today.
    I see this as an opportunity and I cant believe how stupid these people are who are pushing this swill, make them pay for their stupidity.
    I suggest you print out and laminate this particular graph and leave it in the car for shock value when you meet a warmist fool shooting his mouth off at a party etc. I put the Antarctic ice core sample on the other side making sure it is obvious that heating precedes a rise in CO2 always…and that is enough to stir dissent and wake a few people up I can assure you, no normal decent ordinary folk know about this…so as I say, I find this an excellent opportunity.
    https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-291ab5ba663d458dc0b36e8199b58208

    • Less than 180 ppmv CO2 is dangerously low for C3 plants

      400+ ppmv is a little above the Neogene/Quaternary Periods (last 25 million years) average.


      Comparisons with the Mesozoic and Paleozoic Eras aren’t particularly useful.

  11. Anthropocene is a crock like so much of the other “cutting” edge research we see today.
    It seems so many fudge factors are needed for much of what passes for research these days I just have one question, exactly what are they trying to cover up?

  12. Totally agree that: “The Holocene Epoch shouldn’t even be an epoch. It should be an interglacial stage within the Upper Pleistocene, rather than an epoch of equal stature to the Pleistocene.”

    The end of the so-called Holocene is a different matter.

    “it will be the rocks that have the final say”

    And the rocks will reveal a far thicker and far more distinctive layer than the K–Pg boundary which averages only 2-3mm thick. (http://spiral.ic.ac.uk/retrieve/9556/license.txt)

    Yes, thats when an asteroid killed off 75% of species.

    Forget about the Holocene, say good bye to the Cenozoic.

    • And the rocks will reveal a far thicker and far more distinctive layer than the K–Pg boundary which averages only 2-3mm thick.

      A “boundary layer” can’t be thick… It’s a boundary.

      A transition zone can be thick… But it’s not distinctive.

      The Eocene-Oligocene boundary exhibits, by far, the sharpest climatic transition of the Cenozoic Era…

      The GSSP is the line between the O and the E…

      The base of the Oligocene Series and the Rupelian Stage is defined in the Massignano Section about 10km southeast of Ancona, Italy. The GSSP is at the base of a 0.5m thick greenish-grey marl bed. At this level, both the planktonic foraminifera Hantkenina and Cribrohantkenina, Eocene genera of the Hantkeninidae, become extinct.

      http://www.stratigraphy.org/GSSP/Rupelian.html

      The base of the “0.5m thick greenish-grey marl bed” is the boundary… not the marl bed itself.

      • This why the Paleogene Period should really have only two ages or stages.

        The Cenozoic Icehouse begins at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary, hence so should the Neogene Period.

        • Yep. While the Oligocene-Miocene boundary is fairly sharp, the most significant shift was from the Eocene to the Oligocene.

          • It’s more likely the Anthropocene will be a significant unconformity, a layer of plastic and metal rapidly buried by the devastating future sea level rise.

          • There is no suggestion of rapid sea level rise.

            In the past century, sea level has continued to rise at the same pace as since the depths of the Little Ice Age, during the Maunder Minimum of the late 17th century.

          • Since we’re still in the Cenozoic and Neogene Ice Age, sea level is liable to fall again in future. In the longer term, the oceans will evaporate.

            But in any case, lots of cities are far from the coasts. Even during the Cretaceous high stand, when the Great Plains were under water, there was still dry land.

          • Actually the devasting rapid sea level rise comment was (sarc). Typically surfaces on exposed dry land eventually tend to become unconformities or thin hard ground veneer surfaces.

          • Getting washed away in a 2012-style Earth-Crust displacement flood sounds so much cooler than just becoming the “Anthropocene unconformity.” LOL!

          • In the Anthropocene the terrestrial stratigraphic layer will consist of metal and batteries (cell phones, solar panels, electric cars, wind mills, concrete) instead of woody land organic layers (trees, grasses, mud).

          • “All bonded together by styrofoam…”

            We had a chance at making the McDonaldocene but we blew it when we switched to cardboard packaging.

    • What makes it a boundary is the fact that there are substantial differences between flora and fauna above the boundary compared to below it.
      The thickness of the boundary layer only matters to those who aren’t smart enough to concentrate on the real issues.

      • A boundary layer is thin… It’s a boundary. It’s usually an unconformity or other non-conformable surface. It represents a sharp geological change. Transition zones can be thick. They represent gradual geological changes.

  13. The Anthropocene Era really would have been truly fabulous… for its brevity.

    Paleozoic Era: 541 to 252 million years ago, 289 million years.
    Mesozoic Era: 252 to 66 million years ago, 186 million years.
    Cenozoic Era: 66 million to 73 years ago, 65.999927 million years.
    Anthropocene Era: 1945-2018, 0.000073 million years.

    Welcome to the Anthropocene…blink and you’ll miss it

  14. Since we are dealing with lake sediments, it will likely be determined that the Anthropocene can be subdivided into the Steelcanian, followed by the Soft-topian, the Pull-tabian, and, currently, the Poptopian.

    • Way back in college, I thought that future paleontologists would put pull-tabs together, thinking they were like crinoid stems… 😉

      • David,
        I remember a cartoon from college days showing some alien looking creatures recording a description of a “radioactive, beer can conglomerate.”

  15. Professional people in earth sciences use the geological features of these time divisions for various purposes, such as assigning a bracket of ages and seeking similarity to other places.
    To do this, the properties that help deduce the age have to be reasonably easy to identfy, not so fleeting or vague or rare that one needs special apparatus.
    Those proposing “Anthropocene” fail this common sense test and are exposed to the same levity as those proposing the equally invalid “Adjustocene”.
    Geoff S

  16. “it will be the rocks that have the final say”

    Yeah, maybe in another 50 million years or so from now.

  17. ‘There’s no agenda here… ‘.
    Indeed.
    “The AWG decided the timing of the boundary before deciding on the marker, not the other way around”.
    Ain’t that the way, assemble a group of like-minded colleagues, agree on the conclusion, then look for supporting evidence and declare ‘the science is settled’.

    • You’ve described the current state of the academic Humanities and Sociology, Chris. Assume, cherry-pick, validate.

      It’s a systematic and conscious violation of the tenure agreement, and of the political neutrality of public money. And college administrators are serene.

  18. Re extinction of American megafauna above – according to Matt Ridley humankind profited from specialisation – men hunted, women gathered, whatever the weather there was always something to eat. So to say extinction was caused by men is correct – by ‘personhunters’ incorrect.

    • Lions also specialize. Lionesses hunt, while lions just chase them off their prey, or do the same with hyena kills. Why work hard, when you can just bully and scare smaller creatures for your dinner? Better even if you and your brother team up to beat up on other predtors and take over a pride of lionesses, killing their current cubs, of course.

      The downside for lions is that their time atop the heap is limited.

      • JT
        You said, “… their time atop the heap is limited.” That is because another job they perform is to defend the pride from other predators that the lionesses are not capable of. It often results in high personal cost to the males.

  19. If the ”Anthropocene” must have a geologically/stratigraphically discernible GSSP with a reasonably wide application I submit that the only viable one would be the expansion of Homo sapiens outside Africa. This is usually discernible biostratigraphically through the rapid extinction of large animals (including all other hominids), abrupt changes in fire frequency/vegetation and occurrence of characteristic stone tools.

    Unfortunately it is somewhat time-transgressive, from c. 50,000 BP in the Middle East to c. <1,000 BP in much of the Pacific. However this is probably just as true for nearly all stratigraphic boundaries (except the K/Pg one, thanks to Chicxulub).

    • tty, there is an interesting stratigraphic boundary evident at many locations at the start of the Younger Dryas cold spell. Some say it has similarities to the K/Pg boundary, though not near as extreme of an extinction event.

      • It’s not even remotely close to the K-Pg boundary. K-Pg not only separates two periods (Cretaceous and Paleogene), it separates two eras (Mesozoic and Cenozoic). Younger Dryas is a stadial episode, within a glacial stage, within the Upper Stage of the Pleistocene Epoch. It has virtually no chrono-stratigraphic significance. Younger Dryas isn’t even clearly global.

          • Scattered evidence of an impact event doesn’t constitute chrono-stratigraphic significance.

            Younger Dryas, was just the final glacial stadial of the last glacial stage of the Pleistocene… One of many Dansgaard-Oeschger events.

            Dansgaard-Oeschger Heinrich

            The truly anomalous feature was the Bølling-Allerød interstadial.

            Antarctica’s version of Younger Dryas, the Antarctic Cold Reversal, coincided with the Bølling-Allerød interstadial.

            Younger Dryas

            If an impact event caused the Younger Dryas cooling, it caused Antarctica to cool about 2,000 years before it hit the Earth.

            While the Younger Dryas has climatological significance,it’s onset has no chrono-stratigraphic significance and its termination is only significant because it coincides with the end of the Pleistocene Epoch.

            The K-Pg boundary separates not just two epochs, but also separates two periods and two eras.

          • David, thanks for the graphs. I’ve seen the first two and the third is consistent with the discussion in the paper that I linked. What you have not addressed are Sections 3 and 4 in that paper regarding spherules and platinum. It’s an interesting article regardless of interpretations.

          • It is interesting… It’s just about a billion orders of magnitude below the K-Pg boundary.

          • Bryan,

            There is no valid evidence whatsoever for a YD impact and all the real evidence in the world against it.

            The same usual suspects and their strap hangers somehow keep getting published, no matter how many times their laughable, repeatedly falsified assertions have been shown false.

          • I don’t know if you are stupid, being intentionally obtuse or just a troll… A “boundary layer” can’t be thick… It’s a boundary.

            A transition zone can be thick… But it’s not distinctive.

            The Eocene-Oligocene boundary exhibits, by far, the sharpest climatic transition of the Cenozoic Era…

            The GSSP is the line between the O and the E…

            The base of the Oligocene Series and the Rupelian Stage is defined in the Massignano Section about 10km southeast of Ancona, Italy. The GSSP is at the base of a 0.5m thick greenish-grey marl bed. At this level, both the planktonic foraminifera Hantkenina and Cribrohantkenina, Eocene genera of the Hantkeninidae, become extinct.

            http://www.stratigraphy.org/GSSP/Rupelian.html

            The base of the “0.5m thick greenish-grey marl bed” is the boundary… not the marl bed itself.

            What’s happened over the past 50-100 years has no more geological significance than the Medieval Warm Period, far less significance than the Little Ice Age, far, far less significance than the Dansgaard-Oeschger events, a few orders of magnitude less significance than the Holocene Transgression and about a billion orders of magnitude less geological significance than the K-Pg boundary. “Billion orders of magnitude” is hyperbole because there’s no actual way to meaningfully quantify it.

          • “Younger Dryas, was just the final glacial stadial of the last glacial stage of the Pleistocene… ”

            “Scattered evidence of an impact event doesn’t constitute chrono-stratigraphic significance.”

            If the Younger Dryas is nothing burger, the much less significant MWP and the LIA are what? Sesame seeds on a nothing burger?

          • Instead of lying about what I posted, quote me in context.

            While the Younger Dryas has climatological significance,it’s onset has no chrono-stratigraphic significance and its termination is only significant because it coincides with the end of the Pleistocene Epoch.

            The K-Pg boundary separates not just two epochs, but also separates two periods and two eras.

          • I call it a boundary: “the K–Pg boundary which averages only 2-3mm thick”.
            You correct me: “A “boundary layer” can’t be thick… It’s a boundary.”
            Then use the same phrase yourself: “not even remotely close to the K-Pg boundary”

            With mockery, arrogance and churlishness thrown in for good measure. Go and have a nap.

          • Good fracking grief… The Younger-Dryas is not “not even remotely close to the K-Pg boundary” in it’s chrono-stratigraphic significance… Not thickness.

            This is the idiotic comment that started this discussion:

            Totally agree that: “The Holocene Epoch shouldn’t even be an epoch. It should be an interglacial stage within the Upper Pleistocene, rather than an epoch of equal stature to the Pleistocene.”

            The end of the so-called Holocene is a different matter.

            “it will be the rocks that have the final say”

            And the rocks will reveal a far thicker and far more distinctive layer than the K–Pg boundary which averages only 2-3mm thick. (http://spiral.ic.ac.uk/retrieve/9556/license.txt)

            Yes, thats when an asteroid killed off 75% of species.

            Forget about the Holocene, say good bye to the Cenozoic.

            This was in English…

            A “boundary layer” can’t be thick… It’s a boundary.

            A transition zone can be thick… But it’s not distinctive.

            The K-Pg boundary layer is very thin and it marks dramatic geological changes. It and the Permian-Triassic boundary, are by far the most significant chrono-stratigraphic features of the Phanerozoic Eon The fossil assemblages above the boundary are totally different than those below the boundary. The boundary between the Bølling-Allerød and Younger Dryas has climatological significance, but no chrono-stratigraphic significance. The boundary between the Younger Dryas and the Holocene has some chrono-stratigraphic significance, because it marks the boundary between two epochs… but its chrono-stratigraphic significance is not even remotely close to that of the K-Pg boundary.

            The Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age and “Anthropocene” have no chrono-stratigraphic significance at all… They generally aren’t even in the rocks yet. When they do make it into the rocks, they won’t be thick or particularly significant layers in the future sedimentary record.

      • The end of the Younger Dryas is a quite sharp and well defined climatic shift that is the GSSP for the Holocene (the current interglacial):

        http://www.stratigraphy.org/GSSP/Holocene.pdf

        It is not well defined in Antarctica (except indirectly), but otherwise it is fairly global. Temperatures changed something like 5 degrees in 50 years. Now that is global warming!

        • It’s not distinctive relative to the other Dansgaard-Oeschger and Heinrich events. The real anomaly was the Bølling-Allerød interstadial.

        • Just another reason why the Holocene doesn’t merit epoch status. That supposed GSSP is unlike all the others.

          Nor was the YD even the last cold snap during the glacial-interglacial transition. That would be the 8.2 Ka event.

          There is nothing mysterious about the YD requiring highly improbable special pleading. It was a garden variety cold snap, akin to the other Dryases and similar fluctuations in prior glacial terminations.

          As David notes, what is more unusual is the warmth of the preceding hot snap. The extent to which the YD was deeper than the previous Dryases can be explained by the larger than average quantity of fresh meltwater pulse injected into the oceans during the warm spell.

  20. From the article: “The drive to officially recognize the Anthropocene may, in fact, be political rather than scientific.”

    There’s no *may* about it. It’s definitely political. They think if they can establish some kind of human fingerprint, or just make it look like they have, then that makes their case for human-caused Global Warming stronger. They want to be able to say: See how humans changed this, this, and this, and now they are changing the Earth’s atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Humans are in control of Mother Nature’s atmosphere, is the message.

  21. What was that I’ve been saying about hundreds of thousands of new science grads every year and the likelihood of all of them engaging in work that is actually of value?

  22. If there is reason to consider an Anthropocene, the elephant in the room is the Global Great Greening! A new era of super trees and other flora, a 20% increase in forests and general “leafing out”, a massive increase in habitat, ocean edition in plankton explosion, all courtesy of mankind’s use of fossil fuels!!! Let’s go for it! Alarmists pretend it doesn’t even exist. Alarmist don’t credit doubling of harvests and spread of prosperity. When the cost/benefit is calculated, we we should be cutting cheques for the fossil fuel industry.

    The only palpable sign of climate change thus far is this magnificent greening! If you want your anthropocene, this is it.

  23. So they took a vote and thereby invented new “science”. Binding no less.

    “After a decade of investigating this question, the AWG decided in May that humans had, in fact, left an indelible geological mark. In a binding vote in May, 29 of the 34 members opted to move forward with developing a proposal supporting the designation of the Anthropocene.”

    • There’s one (1) geologic time scale. Changes to it have to follow a procedure. The procedure is established by the International Commission on Stratigraphy.

      The International Commission on Stratigraphy is the largest and oldest constituent scientific body in the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). Its primary objective is to precisely define global units (systems, series, and stages) of the International Chronostratigraphic Chart that, in turn, are the basis for the units (periods, epochs, and age) of the International Geologic Time Scale; thus setting global standards for the fundamental scale for expressing the history of the Earth.

      The science is done by a “working group.” They have to demonstrate that new geologic time period is justified to the relevant sub-commission, the ICS and the IUGS. The purpose is to standardize nomenclature.

      Chronostratigraphical divisions are ‘time/rock’ units, i.e. they refer to the sequence of rocks deposited during a particular interval of time. Geochronological divisions are the corresponding (abstract) intervals of (continuous) geological time. Thus, it can be said that rocks of the Quaternary System were deposited during an interval of time called the Quaternary Period. This distinction dates back to the early days of geoscience, but the present-day need for it has been challenged (e.g. Harland et al. 1990) and has been reviewed by the Geological Society’s Stratigraphy Commission. However, the International Union of Geological Science’s (IUGS) International Commission on Stratigraphy has ruled that the distiction is important and must stand.

      Many of the famiiar chronostratigraphical units were originally defined rather loosely. Hence modern work focuses on the rigorous definition of each component of the time-scale. For the Phanerozoic, it is based on the principle that the base of each chronostratigraphical division should be defined at a specific level in a type section, the Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP). The top of a division is automatically defined by the base of the overlying division. The base of a system equates with the lower boundary of the appropriate series or stage. Procedures for defining a GSSP are described by Remané et al. (1996). A ‘golden spike’ is placed at the GSSP, marking the unique place where a specified point in time is indicated. Sections elsewhere are then correlated with this using all possible methods. Hence, the GSSP must be at a level and locality that has maximum possible applicability for global correlation – though in practice no single GSSP is likely to be directly correlatable over the whole world, so that supplementary reference points may be necessary.

      http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org/stratigraphic-guide/chronostratigraphy/

      Before the establishment of the ICS, the geologic time scale was not standardized.

      • “though in practice no single GSSP is likely to be directly correlatable over the whole world”

        The Chicxulub impact must come pretty close though. The fallout layer must be coeval within at most a few days all over the World. Admittedly it is not preserved in most places, but there are sites where it is preserved on every continent and in all oceans (I’m not sure about the Arctic Ocean though).

        • The “golden spike” marker for the onset of the Danian Age/Stage of the Paleocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period of the Cenozoic Era is the iridium layer at the El Kef site in Tunisia, blasted thence from the Yucatan.

          You’d think that the Arctic Ocean would show traces, although the former Interior Seaway no longer ran all the way north from the Gulf of Mexico. The then much narrower and truncated seaway did however survive enough to force tsunami debris up the river valley which gave us the aptly-named Hell Creek Formation, Montana.

          • The Hell Creek formation spans much of the Maastrichtian and is by no means a tsunamite deposit. There is an apparent tsunamite at the recently described Tanis site, though it may have been caused by a seiche rather than a true tsunami.

            And it is very likely that the K-Pg boundary layer occurs in the Arctic Ocean as well, but to my knowledge it has not yet been found there.

      • Humans started affecting the fossil record even before the Holocene, during and indeed even before the Last Glacial Maximum.

        We wiped out the Australian megafauna from ~52 Ka to 18 Ka, for instance. Then we did the same in Eurasia and the Americas partly before the Holocene as well as during it, and finally isolated oceanic islands more recently. Same for some microfauna.

        • A million years from now… will any of that be clearly resolved in the rocks? I tend to think it won’t be. The Holocene’s GSSP definitely won’t exist a million years from now.

          • Of course you’re right about the alleged Holocene GSSP.

            But it’s entirely possible that paleontologists a million years from now might note the sudden disappearance of Pleistocene megafauna and other smaller fossil species in a brief c. 50,000 year interval around the world.

            Rocks prserve fossils orders of magnitude older than Pleistocene remains.

          • Stages of the Pleistocene, Pliocene and Miocene are based upon first appearance or extinction of various marine algae and forams as GSSP markers, so why not the disappearance of large terrestrial mammal species?

          • Indeed, all the way back in the Cambrian, stages are marked by appearance or disappearance of trilobite and conodont species.

        • We need evidence that the “wiping out” was primarily caused by hmans and was not natural. Good references are? Geoff S

          • The Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene megafauna extinctions took place over 10’s of thousands of years at different times on different continents (Koch & Barnosky, 2006). Megafauna extinctions tended to occur shortly after significant human populations arrived.

            The African megafauna extinction occurred about 1.4 million years ago when our ancestors learned how to hunt.

            Australia’s megafauna extinction occurred about 40,000 years ago, shortly after large numbers of humans arrived.  “Australia lost 14 of its 16 genera of Pleistocene mammalian megafauna along with all megafaunal reptiles” (Koch & Barnosky, 2006). By 40,000 years ago, Australia had already lost more than 90% its larger species (Prideaux et al., 2010).

            Mammoths, Mastodons and Stegodons cruised through every Pleistocene glacial-interglacial cycle right up until the one where humans and recently domesticated wolves began hunting them globally.

            North American (Rancholabrean) extinctions appear to have occurred much later and possibly in at least two phases.  While 16 of 35 Rancholabrean extinctions took place during the terminal Pleistocene (~2,000 yr period coincident with the Younger Dryas, the other 19 genera disappeared from the North American fossil record thousands of years earlier (Faith & Surovell, 2009).    2,000 years is a geological blink of the eye. Something catastrophic may have happened in North America during the terminal Pleistocene. This was also when the Folsom culture replaced the Clovis culture.  A bolide is certainly a possibility for some of the Rancholabrean extinctions.

            However, the overarching element is human predation and habitat encroachment.

            It was probably a combination of factors. Deglaciation would have been very disruptive to habitats. We and our dogs were probably just the “straw that broke the camelops back.”

            References

            Faith, J. Tyler, Todd A. Surovell.  “Synchronous extinction of North America’s Pleistocene mammals.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Dec 2009, 106 (49) 20641-20645; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0908153106

            Koch, Paul L. and Anthony D. Barnosky. “Late Quaternary Extinctions: State of the Debate.”  Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 2006. 37:215–50

            Prideaux, Gavin J., Grant A. Gully, Aidan M. C. Couzens, Linda K. Ayliffe, Nathan R. Jankowski, Zenobia Jacobs, Richard G. Roberts, John C. Hellstrom, Michael K. Gagan, Lindsay M. Hatcher.  “Timing and dynamics of Late Pleistocene mammal extinctions in southwestern Australia.”  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Dec 2010, 107 (51) 22157-22162; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1011073107

  24. From the Nature article: “The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), a committee of 34 researchers formed by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) in 2009, is leading the work, with the aim of crafting a proposal to formally recognize the Anthropocene.”

    When your job description is to “…recognize the Anthropocene.” then other alternatives are excluded by definition. So much for multiple working hypotheses.

    They can do what they want. Geologic maps will still show Qal or Qac and not and Anthropocene crap. Just reinforces one of my longtime observations: Stratigraphers are strange people.

    • Qal and Qac don’t distinguish Holocene from Pleistocene. Even if they did convince the ICS that an Anthropocene Epoch was warranted, it’s not going to show up on geological maps, because it would still be Quaternary.

      The SQS describes the purpose of the AWG a bit differently than the Nature article…

      June 2009 – A new working group was established to examine the possibility of recognising an Anthropocene division either within the Holocene or separated from it.

      http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org/working-groups/

      Their mission was “to examine the possibility of recognising an Anthropocene division either within the Holocene or separated from it”… After 10 years, the best they could do is decide that the Anthropocene started in the mid-20th century and now they’re looking for this sort of evidence…

      Broadly, to be accepted as a formal geological time term the Anthropocene needs to be (a) scientifically justified, i.e. the ‘geological signal’ currently being produced in strata now forming must be significantly large, clear and distinctive; sufficient evidence has now been gathered to demonstrate this phenomenon (b) useful as a formal term to the scientific community.

      This is all they’ve come up with…

      In terms of (b), the currently informal term ‘Anthropocene’ has already proven highly useful to the global change and Earth System science research communities and thus will continue to be used. Its value as a formal geological time term to other communities continues to be discussed.

      It’s basically a “participation trophy”…

      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 such a state. The term has also been used in a non-chronostratigraphic context to be an informal term to denote a broader interpretation of anthropogenic impact on the planet that is markedly diachronous, reaching back many millennia. In geology, such an interpretation is already encompassed by lithostratigraphy, in which the character of stratified rocks is based solely on their physical features and not by age. Such an interpretation represents a concept sharply distinct from the Anthropocene as a chronostratigraphic unit, though it can be complementary with it.

      http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org/working-groups/anthropocene/

      Most geologists aren’t fond of participation trophies.

      • Exactly, it would still be Quaternary.

        That Nature can’t get the mission statement right says something about Nature.

  25. The proposed fake geologic interval is an epoch rather than an era, but even epochs are much longer than a human lifespan.

    As noted, the Holocene shouldn’t even qualify as an epoch, or even an age or stage.

    Here are the durations of the valid Mesozoic and Cenozoic Era epochs, in approximate millions of years, as now recognized:

    Early Triassic: 5
    Middle Triasic: 10
    Late Triassic: 36
    Early Jurassic: 27
    Middle Jurassic: 8
    Late Jurassic: 20
    Early Cretaceous: 46
    Late Cretaceous: 34
    Paleocene: 10
    Eocene: 22
    Oligocene: 11
    Miocene: 18
    Pliocene: 2.75
    Pleistocene: 2.58 (plus 11,400 years of the bogus Holocene)

    The Cretaceous Period really needs a Middle Epoch, expecially because the ages which would compose it were unusually warm, with high ocean transgression onto the continents.

    • Anthropocene advocates have suggested the appearance of man-made Pu-239 as marker of the anti-scientific, if PC, epoch’s onset. Too bad that an epoch even as brief as the Pleistocene as currently recognized would allow for more than 100 halvings of Pu-239, so that vanishingly little would remain at the end of such a bogus epoch. Its half-life is 24,100 years. Tiny amounts of the isotope have been discovered to occur naturally.

      • Yep… Their best bit of evidence, won’t be around long enough to be geologically relevant…

        The sharpest and most globally synchronous of these signals, that may form a primary marker, is made by the artificial radionuclides spread worldwide by the thermonuclear bomb tests from the early 1950s.

        The rest of their “evidence” is a function of observing ongoing processes, unlikely to be recognizable in the rocks a few million years from now…

        Phenomena associated with the Anthropocene include: an order-of-magnitude increase in erosion and sediment transport associated with urbanization and agriculture; marked and abrupt anthropogenic perturbations of the cycles of elements such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and various metals together with new chemical compounds; environmental changes generated by these perturbations, including global warming, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and spreading oceanic ‘dead zones’; rapid changes in the biosphere both on land and in the sea, as a result of habitat loss, predation, explosion of domestic animal populations and species invasions; and the proliferation and global dispersion of many new ‘minerals’ and ‘rocks’ including concrete, fly ash and plastics, and the myriad ‘technofossils’ produced from these and other materials.

        http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org/working-groups/anthropocene/

    • Events in human evolution per Paleozoic period, then Mesozoic and Cenozoic epoch:

      Cambrian: Phylum Chordata evolves, then vertebrates arise.
      Ordovician: Jawed vertebrates develop.
      Silurian: Bony fish diverge from cartilaginous fish (such as modern sharks, skates and rays)
      Devonian: Bony fish split into ray-finned and lobe-finned (such as coelacanth, lungfish and tetrapod) lineages, and development of “amphibian” tetrapods from lobe-fins
      Carboniferous Period: More terrestrial amniote anapsids and divergence of synapsids from diapsid reptiles.
      Permian Period: Ever more mammal-like synapsids, eg Dimetrodon, leading to therapsids
      Early Triassic: Clade Eucynodontia (mammals and most non-mammalian cynodont therapsids)

      Middle Triasic: Clade Probainognathia
      Late Triassic: Clade Mammaliaformes (descended from the most recent common ancestor of Order Morganucodonta and crown group mammals, ie monotremes, marsupials and placentals), Clade Theriiformes (mammals more closely related to therians than monotremes) and Infraclass Holotheria
      Early Jurassic: Diversification in extinct and still living mammalian lineages, as Pangaea started breaking up
      Middle Jurassic: Continued diversification
      Late Jurassic: Subclass Theria (marsupial relative metatherians and placental ancestor eutherians)
      Early Cretaceous: Clade Eutheria (possibly latest Jurassic)
      Late Cretaceous: Cohort Placentalia, Clade Boreoeutheria (Superorder Laurasiatheria and euarchontaglires), Superorder Euarchontoglires (Glires, ie rodents and lagomorphs, and euarchontans) and Grandorder Euarchonta (Order Scandentia, eg tree shrews, and primatomorphs)

      Paleocene: Mirorder Primatomorpha (Order Dermoptera, eg colugos, and primates), Order Primates (prosimian strepsirrhines, eg lemurs, and haplorines) and Suborder Haplorhini (tarsiers and simiformes, aka anthropoids)
      Eocene: Infraorder Simiiformes (New World monkeys and catarrhines)
      Oligocene: Clade Catarrhini (Old World monkeys and apes; possibly latest Eocene)
      Miocene: Super family Hominoidea (apes), Family Hominidae (great apes), Subfamily Homininae (African great apes), Tribe Hominini (upright walking African great apes) and Genus Australopithecus
      Pliocene: Genus Homo, species habilis
      Pleistocene: Various species, eg erectus, and subspecies, to include sapiens sapiens late in the epoch

  26. “than has popular culture, which has already embraced the Anthropocene”

    Outside of left wing activists, I have never heard anyone use this term except as a point of derision.

  27. When the bodies of humans start piling up in the strata we can call it the Néomarxistocene.

  28. This sums it up barely a second in a human’s life expectancy.

    Other subdivisions reflect the evolution of life; the Archean and Proterozoic are both eons, the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic are eras of the Phanerozoic eon. The three million year Quaternary period, the time of recognizable humans, is too small to be visible at this scale.

    The Anthropocene if ever used to represent a geological period would only be considered a major event at best being the shortest duration definition like the LIA. (Little Ice Age)

    An ‘Age’ being smaller than an ‘Epoch’ is still nearly a million years in duration.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_time_scale

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