Consensus Science: Anthropocene Edition

Guest “This would actually be science by voting” by David Middleton

In my most recent post addressing the Anthropocene, one commentator became obsessed with the fact that in order for it to be adopted as a geological time period, at least three groups would have to approve it.

From Finney & Edwards, 2016.  “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.”

Science by voting. How come they use 60% instead of 97% ?

I never did figure out this commentator’s point. The voting is on whether or not to adopt a new subdivision in the geological time scale. It’s not voting on the science. The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) will have to make a geologically coherent case that the Holocene Epoch has ended and an Anthropocene Epoch has begun. So far, they don’t even have a 97% “consensus” within the AWG.

Results of binding vote by AWG
Released 21st May 2019
Following guidance from the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy and the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the AWG have completed a binding vote to affirm some of the key questions that were voted on and agreed at the IGC Cape Town meeting in 2016. The details are as follows:

No. of potential voting members: 34 No. required to be quorate (60%): 21 No. of votes received: 33 (97% of voting membership)

Q1. Should the Anthropocene be treated as a formal chrono-stratigraphic unit defined by a GSSP?

29 voted in favour (88% of votes cast); 4 voted against; no abstentions

Q2. Should the primary guide for the base of the Anthropocene be one of the stratigraphic signals around the mid-twentieth century of the Common Era?

29 voted in favour (88% of votes cast); 4 voted against; no abstentions

Both votes exceed the 60% supermajority of cast votes required to be agreed by the Anthropocene Working Group as the official stance of the group and will guide their subsequent analysis.

Anthropocene Working Group

Key Phrases & Abbreviations

  • International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS)
  • International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS)
  • Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS)
  • Anthropocene Working Group (AWG)
  • Global Boundary Stratotype Sections and Points (GSSP’s, AKA “Golden Spikes”)

The Anthropocene Working Group

The AWG is populated by climate change zealots, like Naomi Oreskes…

The AWG logo is a Mannian Hockey Stick!

It’s kind of surprising that after 10 years, they couldn’t come up with a 97% consensus. The AWG was formed in 2009. It took them 10 years to decide if they should put the base of the Anthropocene in the mid-20th century. I think this would be the first unit of geological time for which the decision of when it occurred preceded its geological basis.

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.

Nature August 2019

AWG’s December 2020 newsletter outlined some of the sites they are considering for the Anthropocene’s “Golden Spike.” I may write up a post, exploring these in more detail… However, if “it will be the rocks that have the final say,” there aren’t a lot of actual sedimentary rocks that are less than 70 years old. Many of the Pleistocene sandstones in the Gulf of Mexico, aren’t truly “rocks” and they are quite a bit older than 70 years.

The AWG’s Appeal to Consensus

The AWG has analyzed a wide range of aspects of the Anthropocene concept, with the broad range of evidence being summarized by Zalasiewicz, Waters, Williams, et al. (2019). However, the AWG’s primary task is to assess the Anthropocene as a potential geological time (chronostratigraphic) unit, following the elaborate protocols stipulated by ICS and its parent body, the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). The AWG is therefore progressing toward a proposal for a formal definition of the chronostratigraphic Anthropocene and has agreed that its isochronous base would be defined by stratigraphic signals associated with the Great Acceleration of the mid-twentieth century (Anthropocene Working Group, 2019).

There has, however, been a growing development of alternative and quite different understandings of the Anthropocene by both a small minority of AWG members and among several disciplines outside geology ranging from the natural and social sciences to the arts and humanities (see Ellis, 2018; Horn & Bergthaller, 2020; Thomas et al., 2020). The origin of these alternative understandings may stem back to the title of the Crutzen (2002) publication—“Geology of Mankind” and the by-line often used when referring to the Anthropocene, as “the human age” (e.g., Braje, 2015; Monastersky, 2015) or “Age of Humans” (H. Waters, 2016). This has led many to use the term Anthropocene to encompass the concept of all discernable human impacts on the planet—a much broader concept than Crutzen originally intended. In this broader view, the Anthropocene’s origin is diachronous, that is, time-transgressive and varies regionally, toward the time when Homo sapiens first gained collective capacities to change Earth’s ecology in unprecedented ways. The selection of key events when human societies first began to play a significant role in shaping the planet commonly reflects different disciplinary perspectives, both as regarding contested expertise within the sciences (Robin, 2013) and beyond them. For example, anthropologists and archaeologists may analyse the development of the first urban communities, or the development of agriculture either expressed in the sedimentary record as changing pollen records or inferred from modified atmospheric compositions. In contrast, as a geological task group in chronostratigraphy, the AWG investigates the Anthropocene in accordance with the mandate given to it by the SQS, as a potential geological time unit during which “human modification of natural systems has become predominant” (SQS, 2009), rather than locally or regionally significant.

This paper explores the diverse, but often overlapping, understandings of these “anthropocenes” and contemplates whether there is scope for such diverse meanings for the same term to coexist across disciplines, and how formally defining the Anthropocene as an epoch (in the geological sense) using the standard chronostratigraphic approach could contribute to and facilitate cross-disciplinary understanding.

Zalasiewicz et al., 2020

Translation: We’re having trouble with the geologically coherent reason for an Anthropocene Epoch… But all the cool kids are going full-Anthropocene! So let’s invoke “disciplines outside geology ranging from the natural and social sciences to the arts and humanities.”

Zalasiewicz et al, 2020 included an interesting graphical comparison of the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary to the proposed Holocene-Anthropocene boundary:

Figure 1 from Zalasiewicz et al., 2020

How do we know Trilobites evolved approximately 521 million years ago? Because the oldest well-preserved Trilobite fossils are about 521 million years old. Any bets on how well-preserved the fossil evidence of our “33 megacities” will be 500 million years after we’re gone?

It’s also important to note that the anthropological, archaeological and cultural items listed to the right of the Neogene-Quaternary time scale were not used to define the subdivisions of the Holocene. The GSSP’s were in the rocks…

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 August 2019

Glacial ice is a mineral… So, technically, continental ice sheets are rock formations.

A mineral is defined as a naturally occurring, homogeneous solid, inorganically formed, with a definite chemical composition( or range of compositions), and an ordered atomic arrangement. Water does not pass the test of being a solid so it is not considered a mineral although ice; which is solid, is classified as a mineral as long as it is naturally occurring. Thus ice in a snow bank is a mineral, but ice in an ice cube from a refrigerator is not. The only exception to this rule ( there always seem to be one ) is that mercury is considered a mineral (more a result of history – mercury was an important alchemical substance).


Rocks are composed of one or more minerals. A mineral is a naturally occurring, homogenous, inorganic substance having a definite chemical composition and fixed crystal structure. So, any naturally occurring ice, the crystalline form of water (H2O), can be considered a mineral. Now coming to the concept of glaciers, the glacial ice, like granite, can be considered a rock. Well, not exactly like granite which is an igneous rock (a rock formed by solidification of molten magma or lava), but more like a quartzite, a mono-mineralic metamorphic rock (a rock formed by alteration of a pre-existing rock) (Fig.2). The mineral in this case is ice.

Geoscience Education

Although, the choice of an ice core for a GSSP is probably not a good idea. As ice continues to accumulate on the Greenland Ice Sheet, the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary will soon (geologically) be deformed and eventually discharged. 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.

If the Holocene Epoch is a mistake, the Anthropocene Epoch would be a joke…

The Anthropocene Is a Joke
On geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch.


Humans are now living in a new geological epoch of our own making: the Anthropocene. Or so we’re told. Whereas some epochs in Earth history stretch more than 40 million years, this new chapter started maybe 400 years ago, when carbon dioxide dipped by a few parts per million in the atmosphere. Or perhaps, as a panel of scientists voted earlier this year, the epoch started as recently as 75 years ago, when atomic weapons began to dust the planet with an evanescence of strange radioisotopes.

These are unusual claims about geology, a field that typically deals with mile-thick packages of rock stacked up over tens of millions of years, wherein entire mountain ranges are born and weather away to nothing within a single unit of time, in which extremely precise rock dates—single-frame snapshots from deep time—can come with 50,000-year error bars, a span almost 10 times as long as all of recorded human history. If having an epoch shorter than an error bar seems strange, well, so is the Anthropocene.


The idea of the Anthropocene is an interesting thought experiment. For those invested in the stratigraphic arcana of this infinitesimal moment in time, it serves as a useful catalog of our junk. But it can also serve to inflate humanity’s legacy on an ever-churning planet that will quickly destroy—or conceal forever—even our most awesome creations.


Perhaps, someday, our signal in the rocks will be found, but only if eagle-eyed stratigraphers, from God knows where on the tree of life, crisscross their own rearranged Earth, assiduously trying to find us. But they would be unlikely to be rewarded for their effort. At the end of all their travels—after cataloging all the bedrock of the entire planet—they might finally be led to an odd, razor-thin stratum hiding halfway up some eroding, far-flung desert canyon. If they then somehow found an accompanying plaque left behind by humanity that purports to assign this unusual layer its own epoch—sandwiched in these cliffs, and embarrassed above and below by gigantic edifices of limestone, siltstone, and shale—this claim would amount to evidence of little more than our own species’ astounding anthropocentrism. Unless we fast learn how to endure on this planet, and on a scale far beyond anything we’ve yet proved ourselves capable of, the detritus of civilization will be quickly devoured by the maw of deep time.


Even worse for our long-term preservation—long after humanity’s brief, artificial greenhouse fever—we’re very likely to return to our regularly scheduled programming and dive back into a punishing Ice Age in the next half-million years. 


But what would we leave on the seafloor, where most sedimentary rock is made, where most of the fossils are, and where we have a slightly better chance of recording our decades-long “epoch” in the rocks? Well, many marine sediments in the fossil record accumulated, over untold eons, from the diaphanous snowfall of plankton and silt, at a rate of little more than a centimeter per thousand years. Given this loose metric (and our current maturity as a species), a dozen centimeters of muck seems an optimistic goal for civilization.

A dozen centimeters is a pathetic epoch, but epoch or not, it would be an extremely interesting layer. It’s tempting to think a whisper of atomic-weapons testing would remain. The Promethean fire unleashed by the Manhattan Project was an earth-changing invention, its strange fallout destined to endure in some form as an unmistakable geological marker of the Anthropocene. But the longest-lived radioisotope from radioactive fallout, iodine-129, has a half-life of less than 16 million years. If there were a nuclear holocaust in the Triassic, among warring prosauropods, we wouldn’t know about it.

The Atlantic

“Perhaps, someday, our signal in the rocks will be found”… Maybe the dreaded Plutonium, an evil man-made element.

242Pu, with its half-life of 375,000 years, decays into 238U, the most common naturally occurring Uranium isotope.

 Years 242Pu 238U

It will be undetectable in less than 5 million years, replaced by “the most common isotope of uranium found in nature.”

Maybe cement and brick… What do you think cement and brick will weather into?

 Portland Cement
 Lime (CaO) 60 to 67%
 Silica (SiO2) 17 to 25%
 Alumina (Al2O3) 3 to 8%
 Iron oxide (Fe2O3) 0.5 to 6%
 Magnesia (MgO) 0.1 to 4%
 Sulphur trioxide (SO3) 1 to 3%
 Soda and/or Potash (Na2O+K2O) 0.5 to 1.3%

Silica (sand) – 50% to 60% by weight
Alumina (clay) – 20% to 30% by weight
Lime – 2 to 5% by weight
Iron oxide – ≤ 7% by weight
Magnesia – less than 1% by weight

What do you think the Earth’s crust is made out of? All of the raw materials in cement and brick came from the Earth’s crust.

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

Two years ago, the AWG was aiming to present a GSSP proposal by 2021.

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 August 2019

Now the AWG is shooting for 2024…

ICS statutes indicated that by the end of the current cycle the AWG would need to dissolve and at the invitation of the new SQS Chair to reassemble for a further four-year term. It was a great honour to be asked to step up from the groups’ position as Secretary to the role of Chair at this critical time of GSSP analysis, which is anticipated to be completed within this term and a proposal be formulated in time for IGC 2024. In preparation for this, the group reassembled with voting members (those with chronostratigraphic expertise suitable for voting on the GSSP proposals) and advisory members, who will continue our work on investigating the stratigraphic and wider meaning of the Anthropocene.

AWG December 2020 newsletter

If I didn’t know better (/SARC), I might be inclined to think they are waiting for Dr. Stanley Finney to step down from his post. In 2021, Dr. Finney began his second four-year term as the Secretary General of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), which would have to ratify an Anthropocene Epoch.

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

A modest proposal

No… Not that modest proposal. Let’s get rid of the Holocene Epoch. Demote it to an Age/Stage of the Pleistocene Epoch and call it the Anthropolitan: The fabulous age of metropolitan humans. Just don’t blink your eyes on your drive through geologic time… You’ll miss it.

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


Brannen, Peter. THE ANTHROPOCENE IS A JOKE:On geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch. The Atlantic, 2019.

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

Subramanian, Meera. Humans versus Earth: the quest to define the Anthropocene. Nature 572, 168-170 (2019). doi:

Zalasiewicz, J., Waters, C. N., Ellis, E. C., Head, M. J., Vidas, D., Steffen, W., et al. (2021). The Anthropocene: Comparing its meaning in geology (chronostratigraphy) with conceptual approaches arising in other disciplines. Earth’s Future, 9, e2020EF001896.

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Jeroen B.
July 9, 2021 2:06 am

Science can be a great base for proper politics, but politics will never lead to proper science.

Reply to  Jeroen B.
July 9, 2021 3:44 am

which is why climate skepticism, 99% based on US Republican politics, will never overturn climate science

Reply to  David Middleton
July 9, 2021 4:34 am

Another very nice and thought provoking post, Mr. Middleton. Thank you.

You are exactly right on your comment to griff. There is nothing to overturn. One can only argue with a vague, poorly constructed conjecture that is set up as not falsifiable. Where proper hypothesis testing could be conducted it is generally discouraged by the various “working” groups that are deep into the con.

In any case, I’m heartened that brain washing, especially among scientists who do use math and logic as tools, is shown not that to be that effective among geologists. As Jeroen B. suggests, politics is the ruining bastard to science.

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
July 9, 2021 6:18 am

I’m certain that in a few thousand millennia they’ll find concrete evidence for the existence of mega-cities in the geologic record.

Reply to  Bryan A
July 9, 2021 9:06 am

Once concrete crumbles and is reformed into sandstone, it looks pretty much like any other sandstone. Water will redistribute the metals and other materials over a wide area until it looks indistinguishable from other deposits.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  MarkW
July 11, 2021 2:38 pm

It’s possible that they’ll find a few nuclear reactor pressure vessels – the ones disposed of at sea, intact. These are incredibly heavy stainless steel assemblies. Any surviving Soviet-era statues made of titanium will be around forever. Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository vaults will survive the destruction of the Earth itself (have never held any nuclear waste).

Reply to  Bryan A
July 9, 2021 10:36 am

I not will to bet no much over 5000 years, About the only thing that might still is a little concrete. Building deteriorate fast without care, look at the Cuban hotels that are now mostly standing rubble. That just in my life time.

Reply to  Bryan A
July 9, 2021 7:02 pm

I’m certain that in a few thousand millennia they’ll find concrete evidence for the existence of mega-cities in the geologic record.”

A few 1,000 X 1,000 years? That is, millions of years?

Not likely.
Especially not mega-city markers found globally.

The Egyptians moved mountains of stone and they are still going to be mountains of weathered stone in tens of thousands of years.

Even then, since they are only found at extremely few locations they are anomalies, not geological records.

pHil R
Reply to  Scissor
July 9, 2021 5:44 am

Another very nice and thought provoking post, Mr. Middleton.

Thought provoking to those capable of independent, rational thought. Others not so much (went right over your head, didn’t it, Griff?).

Reply to  pHil R
July 10, 2021 8:53 am

Things don’t need to go over Griff’s head they can go straight through …. in one ear and out the other …. think of it as a nitwit worm hole for time travel

Kevin kilty
Reply to  David Middleton
July 10, 2021 8:28 am

Dave, I think the Delta measurement between two comments, Griff to you, of (-63) to +36 is some sort of record on this site.

Reply to  griff
July 9, 2021 4:44 am

Where did you pull that statistic from, griff? Wait don’t answer. I will comment on my own experience.

As a professional and progressive Ph.D. scientist, application of my skills and the actual scientific method led me to question “climate science.” It was discovering truths that led me to question progressive politics and to eventually free me, in the sense of minimizing its mental effect on me personally. Political propaganda nevertheless impacts all of us because of its effect on others at the very least.

Last edited 1 year ago by Scissor
Reply to  griff
July 9, 2021 4:51 am

Science that you never once been able to produce, griff.

May as well try to debunk “Goldilocks and the three bears”..

… which is about all your version of science amounts to.

John Hultquist
Reply to  clarence.t
July 9, 2021 8:44 am

How dare you —
. . . trying to debunk Goldilocks!

Reply to  John Hultquist
July 9, 2021 9:07 am

If it feels real to you, isn’t that all that matters?

Reply to  MarkW
July 9, 2021 9:25 am

Said while wearing a cardigan and vaguely waving my glasses around.

Reply to  John Hultquist
July 9, 2021 7:20 pm

Which part of “The Three Bears” do you want to believe is true?

  • That three bears cook porridge?
  • That three bears care if the porridge is too hot?
  • That three bears go for before breakfast walks to let their porridge cool?
  • That three bears have individual beds?
  • That Goldilocks is ignorant enough to sleep in bear beds?

I’ve checked out bear dens. I’ve yet to see one that did not have bear hair everywhere.
Generally, that has been the second clue it’s a bear den.

The first clue is the odor. It’s not an odor conducive to eating or sleeping in the den.

It’s why stories like this are well known as fairytales.

“Goldilocks and the Three Bears was originally titled The Story of the Three Bears, published in the collection English Fairytales, retold by Flora Annie Steel (1922), illustrated by Arthur Rackham”

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  griff
July 9, 2021 5:02 am

Many of us who are skeptical about climate change being catastrophic are skeptical precisely because of our appreciation of science and knowledge of the history of scientific discovery – which has zero to do with Republican politics much of which is as foolish as the alarmism you want to force us to believe.

Reply to  griff
July 9, 2021 5:18 am

Griff mate,

All good scientists are sceptics, so what does that say about climate scientists?

Bryan A
Reply to  Redge
July 9, 2021 6:20 am

Too much Kool-Aid

Reply to  Bryan A
July 9, 2021 10:37 am

No to much on the government nipple, feeding on the grant money.

John W Brisbin
Reply to  griff
July 9, 2021 7:44 am

I would give this effort the same scientific weight as the greeting card industry’s creation of Mother’s Day.
And it may gain acceptance for much the same reasons.

Reply to  griff
July 9, 2021 9:03 am

griffie poo, when you can come up with some actual, real world evidence that there is anything happening in the world of climate, that hasn’t happened before, then we can talk. Until then you are just pushing a religious position that has nothing to do with science.

Reply to  MarkW
July 9, 2021 10:57 am

griff can’t even tell us what the numbers SHOULD be. If you don’t know what’s RIGHT, how can you even begin to say that what’s happening now is WRONG?

Rich Davis
Reply to  griff
July 9, 2021 12:45 pm

Sounds like the gates of hell will not prevail against holy mother church of Climastrology, eh griff?

BobM still awaits your reply.

Would you prefer living in 1700 to 1775 when CO2 was so benign, or this terrible time of “dangerous” CO2, 1950 – 2025?

Komerade Cube
Reply to  griff
July 9, 2021 7:02 pm

Hey, our party member has spoken! Comrade Griff, how are ya compadre? Still taking graft from the CCP to toss drive bys into conversations amongst your betters?

July 9, 2021 2:25 am

It would be equally justifiable to call the present the Obs-cene Epoch.

July 9, 2021 2:34 am

Why 60% and not 97%? I suspect POSI. (Plenty Of Sarcasm Intended)

Reply to  David Middleton
July 9, 2021 9:10 am

I get the impression he really has no rational reason to comment. He sounds like teenager who has lost the fight, but just can’t bring himself to leave the field, without first tossing out a few choice comments so that he can convince himself he really didn’t lose.

John Tillman
Reply to  MarkW
July 9, 2021 10:59 am

Some geologic intervals are indeed arbitrary, lacking a distinct marker, but for most phases of the Phanerozoic Eon, eras, periods, epochs/series and ages/stages do have Golden Spikes.

The Cambrian Period is divided into four epochs and ten ages. At present, only three series and six stages are named and have a GSSP. The period’s upper and lower boundaries are both in Newfoundland, ratified in 1992 and 2000. The name of course dates back to Darwin’s mentor and subsequent opponent Rev. Sedgwick, c. 1830.

The Holocene Epoch’s GSSP is in the Greenland Ice sheet, after the Younger Dryas signal. It will thus at some point disappear, but I guess even those Golden Spikes in rocks are subject to eventual erosion.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
July 9, 2021 2:47 pm

I wonder why the geological powers that were in 1991 went all the way to Tunisia for the Cenozoic-starting GSSP iridium layer.

The source of the iridium hit North America.

A rational Cenozoic nomenclature would consist of a short Paleogene Period consisting of just the Hothouse Paleocene and Eocene Epochs, followed by a longer Neogene including the Oligocene, Miocene and Pliocene, during which the Cenozoic Icehouse began. Then came the Quaternary, which really should so far have only the Pleistocene Epoch, since the Holocene is just another interglacial.

The Quaternary is when the Southern Hemisphere ice age spread to the NH, thanks to the Isthmus of Panama.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
July 9, 2021 4:30 pm

It is odd, but at its start the Antarctic ice sheets grew, so IMO it belongs with the Miocene and Pliocene rather than hot, hot, hot Eocene and Paleocene. Earth did however begin to cool during the later Eocene, but the formation of the deep Southern Ocean at the Oligocene boundary marks the Ceonozic Icehouse.

John Hultquist
Reply to  lee
July 9, 2021 8:46 am

See Poe’s Law

Alexy Scherbakoff
July 9, 2021 2:58 am

People with nothing better to do trying to become famous. The age of influencers.

Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
July 9, 2021 4:48 am

And sycophants, and…

Reply to  Scissor
July 9, 2021 10:58 am

Baaaaaa! Baaaaaa! Who you callin’ a psychophant? I ain’t no psychophant.

M Courtney
July 9, 2021 3:09 am

It seems strange to define epochs by the current technology available to detect differences.
The invention of the ECD in the 20th century should not affect what happened millennia before.

Tom Foley
Reply to  M Courtney
July 9, 2021 8:00 am

Why is it strange? We use current knowledge to define lots of things. We redefine and rename things all the time as we learn more – look at the history of taxonomic names. Current technology is the only way we at this current moment can identify changes in the layering sequence of the earth. What names we give these are arbitrary. Future people using future technology will identify more detail in the sequence and come up with new subdivisions and new names. Neither current nor future techniques or names will affect what happened in the past. It’s happened. The use of new techniques and the debate over what happened and is happening and over what to call things is and has been just part of the process of learning about the history of the earth.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Foley
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
July 9, 2021 11:02 am

I generally agree that as one goes back in time, the temporal resolution is reduced, and confounding factors such as transgression of the oceans create gaps in the record.

However, because Recent surficial materials are ephemeral, and capable of being removed and spread around by wind and water before consolidation, the present is a hiatus in action. There is no guarantee that any unconsolidated marker horizons designated today will still be present in a million years. While there are sands as old as Miocene that are still unconsolidated, they are a coherent unit that is capped with younger rocks that are more commonly lithified.

These AWG zealots seem to have a poor understanding of geology and lack a synoptic view of geological processes. They are obviously more concerned about promoting a political agenda than make improvements in stratigraphy.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 9, 2021 7:43 pm

The AWG believers show how short their time horizon is. There seems to be a failure to distinguish between a century and 100,000,000 years.

July 9, 2021 3:20 am

Vernadsky’s philosophical legacy: A perspective from the Anthropocene

Instead of waiting for stones to speak, have a look at the origin of the term.Vernadsky, who brought us the biosphere, and noosphere, our sandbox, noted what is going on, and really took off after WWII. Of course the green central bankers want to halt all that. They actually want to to halt a natural physical process that Vernadsky identified. There is no way a neo-feudal cabal can continue as this process accelerates.

Could it be that the green cabal , being dumber than a shoe with no soles, actually embrace their own epitaph? Seems lawful!

Reply to  bonbon
July 9, 2021 4:51 am

Very interesting.

July 9, 2021 4:14 am

The Anthropocene’s grounding is in postmodernism. Since reality is “socially constructed”, all we need to do is say it exists and, voila, like Critical Race Theory, there it is.

Reply to  BallBounces
July 9, 2021 4:54 am

Yeah, the danger of that is that all it takes is a psychopath with the persuasion skills of a Charles Manson to take the masses, or at least some subset of us, to a dark place.

July 9, 2021 4:24 am

A good topic for discussion. I agree that Anthropocene is likely a wrong term.
But the Holocene Epoch has been with us for quite some time. Don’t dump the Holocene. I have always thought of myself of a Holocene man. Maybe an Anthropian Age could be a part of the
Holocene Epoch following the Megalayan Age and starting at the end of the LIA. It is likely that this age would end over the next few thousand years and the Holocene (as originally forecast) would later end with a Great Ice Age. (and maybe a new epoch)

July 9, 2021 5:00 am

I am sorry but this is only partially relevant. It has become really sad
To report misinformation or scams, please email CERTNZ:
Well they got an email from me

Hi there

You can stick the vaccine where the sun doesn’t shine as the Stage 3 trial results won’t be out until about 1/4/2023.

The Swine flue vaccine got pulled after four years in Germany.

Why should I trust this one especially as it is technically not a true vaccine?

All the best.


July 9, 2021 5:44 am

Post modern geology – what’s in a name?

I’m no geologist. I learned a lot from both articles, and I obviously do not have any disputes with Brennan’s comprehensive summary of geological epochs.

But I am an avid scientific communicator, and I think that Brennan misses a crucial point.
The article’s main contention is that naming a time period – one which amounts to the tiniest of glitches on the grand geological scale – after our own impact is anthropocentric (basically humans placing too much emphasis on humans). Yet to me it seems that our very naming of time periods of any sort is anthropocentric. Modern names of geological periods are created by humans, for humans. And (importantly) for modern humans.

Rocks? A modern concept for modern humans, apparently.

Last edited 1 year ago by strativarius
John Tillman
July 9, 2021 5:55 am

If climastrologists must have an Anthropocene Epoch, then just shave the last 200,000 years or so off the Pleistocene and add them to the Holocene. The Golden Spike would be the location in Africa of the oldest fossil human jaw with a chin.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
July 9, 2021 10:43 am

Just read the ~300 Ka skull described from Morocco in 2017 came with a mandible. It has a chin. So, while the cranial shape differs from modern humans’, it qualifies as one of us, if a chin be the defining anatomical feature of H. sapiens.

So shave another 100 millennia off the Pleistocene.

Carlo, Monte
July 9, 2021 6:13 am

Sounds like a committee struggling hard to keep itself relevant.

H. D. Hoese
July 9, 2021 6:13 am

“To avoid confusion from the use of widely different terms for the same thing, we have tried to introduce some uniformity into the manuscripts. For example, we decided to use Holocene instead of Recent or Postglacial. This term, used widely in Europe to indicate the epoch of generally rising sea levels accompanying the melting of the last great ice caps, appears to be less confusing than either of the other two. Thus Recent has another meaning when it is not capitalized. Postglacial is too indefinite inasmuch as ice caps still exist and there are many indications of ice-readvances during the general waning of ice caps. In general we have drawn the boundary between Holocene and Pleistocene at the unconformity where modern sediments overlie oxidized sediments, the latter the result of weathering during the times of glacially lowered sea level. Like all other transgressions, the time of overlap is not necessarily the same at different places, but no other satisfactory basis was found.”

Shepard, Preface 1960, Recent Sediments, Northwest Gulf of Mexico
Best as I recall Holocene was always sort of scoffed at by geologists as another glacial would wipe it out. Here it is only necessarily consistent for a study of a small region.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  David Middleton
July 9, 2021 11:29 am

“But, since the AWG is clearly politically motivated, they’d be clamoring for some other geological subdivision to attack capitalism.”


The AWG really has nothing to do with geology. If it did David, then geologists like yourself would be serving on it.

It’s purpose is to drive Marxist and demonizing anti-human activism. Science is their plaything to drive it all. They are the high priests and priestesses of a High and Holy Faith. We see arrogance and egotism operating here on a high level.

paul courtney
Reply to  David Middleton
July 9, 2021 12:15 pm

Mr. Middleton: IF they then called it the Mao-ocene, the press would promote it.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 9, 2021 12:36 pm

Yeah, the Wokeocene, is probably next.

Nick Schroeder
July 9, 2021 6:16 am

Greenhouse theory says the atmosphere warms the earth, the GHGs warm the atmosphere, more GHGs make for a warmer earth, a warmer earth is bad.
ALL of that is WRONG!
1) By reflecting away 30% of ISR the albedo, which would not exist w/o the atmosphere/GHGs, makes the earth cooler than it would be without that atmosphere like that reflective panel set behind the windshield. Remove the atmosphere/GHGs and the earth would become much like the Moon, a barren rock with a 0.1 albedo, 20% more kJ/h, hot^3 on the lit side, cold^3 on the dark. Nikolov, Kramm (U of AK) and UCLA Diviner mission all tacitly agree.
2) the GHG up/down welling, “trapping”/”back” radiating/delaying/intercepting, 100 % efficient, perpetual warming loop requires “extra” energy which according to RGHE theory comes from
3) the terrestrial surface radiating that “extra” energy as a LWIR ideal black body which
4) cannot happen because of the non-radiative, kinetic energy, heat transfer processes of the contiguous atmospheric molecules and as demonstrated by experiment, the gold standard of classical science:
1+2+3+4 = 0 Greenhouse Effect + 0 Greenhouse gas warming + 0 man caused climate change.

Version 1.0 070921

July 9, 2021 6:31 am

It’s more political & pre-emptive than the previously well considered geological basis using rocks. Woke me up when we have Arctic ice cap ice free during summer & Antarctic is a shadow of it’s former self, then the climate would be noticeably changed to consider Anthropocene.

July 9, 2021 7:11 am


When will I need to include the Anthropocene in my seismic sequence strat interpretation?

How important will it be for depth conversion and velocity modelling?

Or do you think I’ll be able to just carry on calling the first marine reflector “seabed”?

Regards, TS

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  David Middleton
July 10, 2021 8:49 pm

There are probably a fair number of Sanctimonious bugs.

July 9, 2021 7:57 am

Getting a bit ahead of themselves aren’t they? First we have to vote on the thermometer readings to see if they’re affected by a new bloke on the job, concrete plazas and sandstorms etc, etc-
The simple mistake that stuffed up world temperature records for 90 years (
LOL doomsters.

John Tillman
Reply to  observa
July 9, 2021 8:23 am

After the old record was successfully challenged, I expected the CACA commissars to come after Death Valley’s record in favor of dubious readings in the past decade.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Tillman
John Hultquist
July 9, 2021 8:41 am

Maybe I’m misinformed but my understanding of “Holocene” is something like “wholly recent”, in the sense that people of today would recognize most all of what can be seen going back in time to a previous state. There seems to be a strong correlation of concepts with this and the so called “Anthropocene.”
Recently “The Holocene” has been subdivided into Greenlandian, Northgrippian and Meghalayan ages/stages – starting about 11,721 years ago. This takes us back to the Late (or Upper) Pleistocene.

Works for me.
John H.

July 9, 2021 9:01 am

Picking the date, and then looking for evidence to support it may not be normal science, but it is however how climate science has always worked.

July 9, 2021 9:07 am

The Anthropocene was the peak of narcissism until now. I’m about to top it. The beginning of the Anthropocene should be 8:30PM, July 4, 1952, the date and time of my birth, so there!

Reply to  Andy May
July 9, 2021 9:44 am

In the not to distant future the Anthropocene will be recognized as the Irrelevantocene.

And, speaking of going back and changing records, can i go back anr raise my test scores from my ancient schooldays?…..

John Tillman
Reply to  Andy May
July 9, 2021 9:55 am

That’s the Andyocene.

July 9, 2021 9:32 am

The lack of appreciation for these time scales seems to be sadly typical.

Clyde Spencer
July 9, 2021 10:40 am

It seems that these AWG zealots boarded the wrong train. Archaeologists and historians have assigned all kinds of descriptive names to human societies, such as the Bronze Age or Industrial Age. That’s the proper time resolution for a creature that first started building semi-permanent structures 10,000 years ago. The rocks should have the final word as to whether or not the ‘Anthropocene’ deserves a geological validation. I vote “No” on calling 50-year old thin, ephemeral sediments the marker for a new epoch. There may yet be a hiatus that removes all evidence of the marker.

I remember seeing a cartoon once where strange-looking creatures, reminiscent of the stereotypical UFO occupant, were engaged in examining a rock outcrop. They were clearly geologists of the future. One of them was transcribing a description of a unique horizon in the outcrop, with the remark about an “extensive, radioactive, beer-can conglomerate …”

Last edited 1 year ago by Clyde Spencer
Smart Rock
July 9, 2021 11:09 am

You have to hand it to griff. The volume of replies generated from outraged skeptics by a single cryptic sentence from the griff is unprecedented* in the history of WUWT.

Griff’s comments usually have a loose relationship to documentable facts. But in this case he/she/they/it has confused cause and effect. Climate skepticism is a scientific stance that is not in any way based on US Republican politics. Rather, many US Republicans have adopted a skeptical view of climate politics – probably because most of them start from a point of view that distrusts anything their government tells them.

Just for fun, I looked up the definition of “griff”

Merriam-Webster (1): a deep narrow glen or ravine
Merriam-Webster (2): an accurate account : a factually correct piece of information
Oxford UK English: news or factual information (1): (India) Griffin, (white) newcomer (2): Marijuana (3): An arrangement of parallel bars for lifting the hooked wires which raise the warp threads in a loom for weaving figured goods
The Collaborative International Dictionary (1): A person of mixed blood
The Collaborative International Dictionary (2): grasp; reach A name given to Europeans during the first year of their arrival in India: it has become a general term for an inexperienced youngster A large, testosterone-fuled (sic), bear-like, porn star. Usualy (sic) blessed with a penis exceeding 11″ in regards to slavery in the United States, was used to refer to an enslaved person of mixed heritage, typically lighter in skin color than direct African slaves
german-to-english translation: handle

* “unprecedented”: A term used in climate science to signify a weather event with a magnitude not seen since August 17th last year.

Forrest Gardener
Reply to  Smart Rock
July 11, 2021 3:03 am

Precisely. And of course griff hasn’t engaged beyond its original troll.

Queensland had a politician who used similar techniques at press conferences. He called it feeding the chooks.

July 9, 2021 2:20 pm

Might there be an intent to define the anthropocene as beginning with the advent of human mining and/or well-digging? WAG at +- 10k years ago?

John Hultquist
Reply to  dk_
July 9, 2021 2:47 pm

1859 – The Drake Well

Philip Mulholland
Reply to  John Hultquist
July 10, 2021 5:08 am
July 10, 2021 4:28 am

This made me realise there must be an Earthworm Era!
They are on all continents except perhaps Antarctica and they affect the lives of all the beings in the area.
Perhaps there could be a Beaver Era for the areas in which they live too.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  jon2009
July 10, 2021 8:58 pm

South Beach?

Philip Mulholland
July 10, 2021 4:53 am

Q1. Should the Anthropocene be treated as a formal chrono-stratigraphic unit defined by a GSSP?

29 voted in favour (88% of votes cast); 4 voted against; no abstentions

Should we vote to keep ourselves busy?
88% voted in favour.
1st rule of bureaucracy.

Kevin kilty
July 10, 2021 8:26 am

I’ve come late to this, and thus probably to a dead thread, but I have all sorts of trouble seeing the utility of an “anthropocene” other than as a political flag of sorts planted in geology. The utility of having a geological time scale is to place measurements, observations or events properly in context of geological history. The anthropocene will exist in the midst of recorded human history most likely. Isn’t recorded history more useful as a time scale than a couple of vague markers?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kevin kilty
July 12, 2021 11:17 am

But, as usual, the alarmists want to corrupt a useful tool (like pH) to serve their political ends. They care not that their proposal would have a negative impact on something developed by geologists for geologists.

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