The “Anthropolitan” Compromise?

Guest “Stick a fork in it” by David Middleton

This should “stick a fork” in the notion of an Anthropocene Epoch…

Gill co-authors report arguing Anthropocene should be a geological event, not an epoch

November 16, 2021 

Scientists studying how human activity alters the Earth use the term “Anthropocene” to describe a generalized period of time in which humanity has impacted the planet through landform and ecosystem alteration, species eradication, climate change and more. Yet Anthropocene has no concrete scientific definition, resulting in it being given several conflicting meanings that cause confusion among researchers and the general public.  

To help alleviate the ambiguity, some experts suggest that the Anthropocene should be defined as a formal epoch within the Geologic Time Scale. Jacquelyn Gill, however, contends that the Anthropocene should be considered a geological event, or significant transformation of the Earth marked in its geology. 

Gill, an associate professor of paleoecology and plant ecology at the University of Maine, and other researchers advocated for this argument in a Cambridge University-led paper published in the journal Episodes

Identifying the Anthropocene as an epoch could hinder scientists’ ability to understand, investigate and discuss how humans have altered the planet, according to Gill and her colleagues. Human action has altered the Earth for thousands of years at different scales and across numerous cultural practices, so restricting the Anthropocene to a specific period in time could limit the amount of activity to research and explore. 

As a geological event, however, the Anthropocene would encompass a broader variety of anthropogenic effects throughout human history. The label also more accurately reflects the diachronous and variable nature of human-influenced global change, according to researchers. A geological event would make the Anthropocene more useful across different disciplines as well, while still grounding its understanding in the geological record.

[…]

UMaine News

H/T to Mrs. Middleton for bringing this article to my attention. The Episodes paper is very well done and worth reading.

A practical solution: the Anthropocene is a geological event, not a formal epoch
by Philip L. Gibbard, Andrew M. Bauer, Matthew Edgeworth, William F. Ruddiman, Jacquelyn L. Gill, Dorothy J. Merritts, Stanley C. Finney, Lucy E. Edwards, Michael J. C. Walker, Mark Maslin and Erle C. Ellis

Abstract
The Anthropocene has yet to be defined in a way that is functional both to the international geological community and to the broader fields of environmental and social sciences. Formally defining the Anthropocene as a chronostratigraphical series and geochronological epoch with a precise global start date would drastically reduce the Anthropocene’s utility across disciplines. Instead, we propose the Anthropocene be defined as a geological event, thereby facilitating a robust geological definition linked with a scholarly framework more useful to and congruent with the many disciplines engaging with human-environment interactions. Unlike formal epochal definitions, geological events can recognize the spatial and temporal heterogeneity and diverse social and environmental processes that interact to produce anthropogenic global environmental changes. Consequently, an Anthropocene Event would incorporate a far broader range of transformative human cultural practices and would be more readily applicable across academic fields than an Anthropocene Epoch, while still enabling a robust stratigraphic characterization.

Episodes

The paper has a rather odd collection of coauthors. Former Secretary General of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) Stanley Finney and Lucy E. Edwards have written that the Anthropocene is more of a political, rather than geological concept. William Ruddiman has suggested that early human agriculture actually staved off the onset of the next Quaternary glacial stage and considers the notion of an Anthropocene Epoch to be redundant:

Other critics, notably William Ruddiman, a palaeoclimatologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, have pushed for starting the Anthropocene when humans first began terrascaping Earth with agriculture thousands of years ago, or when they wiped out the megafauna of Australia and North America many millennia before 1950 (see W. F. Ruddiman Prog. Phys. Geogr. Earth Environ. http://doi.org/gd4shx; 2018). Some have argued against designating the Anthropocene at all, given that the Holocene has been marked by escalating human influences since the end of the last ice age.

Nature

While Erle Ellis and Mark Maslin have been rather zealous proponents of the official adoption of an Anthropocene Epoch in the Geologic Time Scale. Although, Ellis, a member of the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), has been critical of the process:

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.

Nature

The lead author, Phillip Gibbard is the current Secretary General of the ICS and a member of the AWG. The combination of Anthropocene proponents and opponents leads me to think that a compromise is in the works. This is from the paper’s conclusion:

Current usage of the term ‘Anthropocene’ conceals a wide range of conflicting scientific meanings that has caused confusion among scholars and the broader public with whom they engage. This situation is unlikely to change without a more precise and useful definition. Yet, efforts to understand and address Earth’s transformation through human social and cultural practices are fundamentally imperiled by continued efforts to define and formalize the Anthropocene as an official, rigidly constrained chronostratigraphic/ geochronologic interval in the GTS. A shift to a geological event framework is a solution that overcomes many of the problems with defining the Anthropocene. It
eliminates ambiguity in the use of the term and offers a way forward through conceptual and disciplinary barriers by freeing the concept from the constraints of geological formalization, as well as from its alignment with established time units within the Holocene Series/Epoch.

Gibbard et al., 2021

Figure 1 from the paper provides a conceptual timeline for how an Anthropocene Event could be a useful tool in connecting the human activities to the GTS.

Figure 1 from Gibbard et al., 2021

Apart from one glaring error, it’s not a bad concept. The glaring error is the notation of “Mass extinctions” over the past 100 years…

Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction
“As scientists we have a responsibility to be accurate about such comparisons.”

By Peter Brannen

JUNE 13, 2017

At the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin took the podium to address a ballroom full of geologists on the dynamics of mass extinctions and power grid failures—which, he claimed, unfold in the same way.

[…]

Erwin is one of the world’s experts on the End-Permian mass extinction, an unthinkable volcanic nightmare that nearly ended life on earth 252 million years ago. He proposed that earth’s great mass extinctions might unfold like these power grid failures: most of the losses may come, not from the initial shock—software glitches in the case of power grid failures, and asteroids and volcanoes in the case of ancient mass extinctions—but from the secondary cascade of failures that follow. These are devastating chain reactions that no one understands. Erwin thinks that most mass extinctions in earth’s history—global die-offs that killed the majority of animal life on earth—ultimately resulted, not from external shocks, but from the internal dynamics of food webs that faltered and failed catastrophically in unexpected ways, just as the darkening eastern seaboard did in 2003.

[…]

“Many of those making facile comparisons between the current situation and past mass extinctions don’t have a clue about the difference in the nature of the data, much less how truly awful the mass extinctions recorded in the marine fossil record actually were,” he wrote me in an email. “It is absolutely critical to recognize that I am NOT claiming that humans haven’t done great damage to marine and terrestrial [ecosystems], nor that many extinctions have not occurred and more will certainly occur in the near future. But I do think that as scientists we have a responsibility to be accurate about such comparisons.”

[…]

The Atlantic

Apart from 86’ing “Mass extinctions” from the conceptual timeline, I would also drop the “-cene” from Anthropocene. The current naming convention applies “-cene” to Cenozoic Era epochs. Instead of the Anthropocene Event, I would call it, the Anthropolitan Event… Better yet… The Fabulous Anthropolitan Event!

‘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.

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

Gibbard PL, Bauer AM, Edgeworth M, Ruddiman WF, Gill JL, Merritts DJ, Finney SC, Edwards LE, Walker MJC, Maslin M, Ellis EC.  “A practical solution: the Anthropocene is a geological event, not a formal epoch”.  Episodes -0001;0:-.  https://doi.org/10.18814/epiiugs/2021/021029

4.9 13 votes
Article Rating
170 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John Tillman
November 29, 2021 10:12 am

The ending “-politan” stems from Greek for “city”, ie “polis”.

Since humanity first started affecting the biosphere during megafaunal extinctions from ~40,000 years ago, long before cities, then maybe “anthroallagi”, ie “man-change”. (Transliterating from Modern Greek pronunciation. Attic would end in “e”, but some might then think the final syllable is “lage”, to rhyme with “age”, rather than “lahg-ay”, the final letter being Eta..)

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
Chaswarnertoo
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 10:23 am

Any proof of that? Tumbleweed.

John Tillman
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
November 29, 2021 10:26 am

Proof that cities didn’t exist 40,000 years ago, or that our species started wiping out other species then?

The oldest known cities date from about 11,000 years ago, but some archaeologists argue for 9000.. There’s no agreed upon definition of “city”.

The Australian megafaunal extinctions began about 40 Ka, but possibly even earlier.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 10:42 am

In any case, so far there’s no sign of anything close to a city before the Holocene.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 11:47 am

How could I have forgotten that?

AndyHce
Reply to  David Middleton
November 30, 2021 6:40 pm

Suppose all humans suddenly disappeared. Then suppose, after a real geologically relevant time, some new form of geologist arose. How likely is it they could find anything to tell them humans had once made any kind of changes to the earth?

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 12:18 pm

We probably did a pretty good number on Neanderthals competing for same hunting grounds too.

commieBob
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 29, 2021 12:39 pm

The Neanderthals are alive and living among us. 🙂 link

John Tillman
Reply to  commieBob
November 29, 2021 1:32 pm

Only about 20% of Neanderthal DNA exists in modern humans, at an average of about 2% of the total genome of non-Subsaharan Africans. It can range as high as four percent.

Richard Page
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 5:11 pm

True, but how much of our DNA is identical to Neanderthal DNA? Considering that H. Sap. Sap. and H. Sap. Neanderthalensis could interbreed, I’d suggest that the majority of both species’ DNA was identical, meaning that we probably have far more Neanderthal ancestry than the genetic differences might imply.

John Tillman
Reply to  Richard Page
November 29, 2021 7:17 pm

That we share some common hominid DNA by no means suggests that we have more Neanderthal DNA than the average 1-4% distinctive Neanderthal in non-African moderns. It just means that we had common ancestry. The shared DNA is no more Neanderthal than it is Modern. It’s inherited from common ancestors, ie H, heidelbergensis, H. erectus, H. habilis and australopithecines.

DMacKenzie
Reply to  commieBob
November 29, 2021 4:37 pm

My neighbor is one…scrapes the mud off his work-boots on an old Harley frame in his driveway….

John Tillman
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 29, 2021 1:35 pm

Our anatomically modern human ancestors wiped out all of our closest relatives, not just Neanderthals, but Denisovans, remnant H. erectus and H. floresiensis populations and African and Asian groups not yet identified but who show up in DNA.

Richard Page
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 5:19 pm

The fact that they show up in our DNA implies that the term ‘wiped out’ may be slightly misleading. We may have just interbred with them to the extent that H. Sap. Sap. DNA became the dominant genetic legacy. There is zero evidence for an active period of ‘wiping out’ – this is a holdover from earlier (unsupported) ideas that any movement of people into new areas was associated with violent domination or ‘wiping out’.

John Tillman
Reply to  Richard Page
November 29, 2021 7:14 pm

Lots of evidence that we wiped them out. The usual thing is to kill and eat the males and enslave the females, which is apparently what happened.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 7:44 pm

Although the situation in East Asia might have been a bit different from West Asia and Europe.

Richard Page
Reply to  John Tillman
November 30, 2021 7:02 am

As I stated above, and do again, there is absolutely zero evidence that we wiped them out, and zero evidence for your fanciful conjecture that we ate male Neanderthals and kept female Neanderthals as some sort of sex slaves. There is, at least, some small amount of evidence, from more than one site, that we interbred with Neanderthals, as well as having common ancestry. The idea that we killed off the Neanderthal line dates back to the flawed and unsupported conjecture of the last century. If there’s one thing we should learn from the global warming scam it’s that we should not indulge in wild-assed guesswork to fill in the blanks between the evidence that we are aware of.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  John Tillman
December 1, 2021 2:57 pm

I’m glad you were there to see what was happening. Your tone makes you look like a know-it-all for something that happened long ago with no record. Of course, we will all defer to you.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Richard Page
November 29, 2021 10:22 pm

A common assumption that Neanderthals lacked empathy and other human gentler traits towards their fellows was falsified with evidence found in an Iranian cave only some 5 or six decades ago. Found among a group was a severely crippled man who had suffered many fractured bones in his face, torso and limbs (likely a hunting accident or a serious fall). The bones had healed but there was no way he could have hunted or contributed much to the group. Clearly he was cared for and fed for a long time by his family or acquaintances.

I can’t find the reference but here is a recent study:

https://neurosciencenews.com/compassion-evolution-neanderthals-8632/

Richard Page
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 5:07 pm

I like Anthropolitan as a term, implying as it does that the current warming only exists as UHI in urbanized areas. This makes perfect sense to me.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 9:27 pm

I think that it should be neopolitan, akin to neolithic. 🙂

Not to be confused with neapolitan ice cream or pizza.

Last edited 1 month ago by Clyde Spencer
John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 10:36 am

Of coourse. Plus it goes with the sign, which should read “epoch” rather than era, not that the Anthropocene is either.

Anthropiferous would mean “man-carrying”.

“Anthroepibablic” would mean “man-damaging”, but is hard to say.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 10:54 am

I agree, but the Anthropocene was proposed as an epoch.

I like “event”. I don’t think we merit even an age or stage, despite our affects on the planet.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 11:59 am

If we merit an age, then how about the Plasticene, not to be confused with plasticine. I know, ages don’t end in -cene, only epochs.

Ages or stages are named after locations, so our Atmoic Age could be the Los Alamosian or Trinitarian.

Red94ViperRT10
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 3:01 pm

I sort of like it, but still… I’m still not convinced humans had anything to do with the demise of any megafauna. If they did, wouldn’t we also have seen an end to elephants, rhinoceroses, even hippopotami? What I’m getting at, wasn’t it you, Mr. Middleton, that proposed man has not yet made a significant mark on this planet? Currently, only <10,000 years later we can find artifacts that indicate a city might have existed at a particular point on this planet, but outside of that, what evidence (will we) have left on this planet that any researcher could locate a million years from now? Even 100,000 years from now? I think the Anthro… talk is all just so much hubris. News flash, academicians: you ain’t as significant as you like to think you are!

John Tillman
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
November 29, 2021 3:26 pm

African megafauna evolved with humans. In northern Eurasia, where the megafauna were naive, the woolly rhino was wiped out, with mammoths, etc.

Wherever modern humans met naive megafauna, the animals went extinct, from Australia to Europe to Asia to the Americas to oceanic islands. Coincidence? I think not.

bonbon
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 11:04 am

Too easily mistaken for Iron Man. What about Bronze?

alastair gray
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 10:43 am

Or if the greens have their way and destroy our societies we are at the dawn of the next epoch the anthropophagous otherwise known as the Dark Ages

bonbon
Reply to  alastair gray
November 29, 2021 10:57 am

LOL!

John Tillman
Reply to  alastair gray
November 29, 2021 11:53 am

Now that insects are on the Woke menu, can Soylent Green be far behind?

Vuk
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 11:21 am

Anthropostultus ?

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 11:44 am

Based on the profoundly anti-human ideology of the current crop of Green politicians and academicians,

I propose the existing global state be termed the Misanthrope Epoch.

Derg
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
November 29, 2021 2:42 pm

+100 claps. Thanks for the laugh.

Richard Page
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 5:24 pm

Anthrocephalic? As an implication that we really are bigheads.

Joao Martins
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 11:25 am

John, hold tight to the scientific practice, the scientific institutions, and don’t waste your time trying to help those idiots. “What’s in a name?”, Juliet asked, and so must we: do we need a name for that? Nature and evolution will be different if we use a(nother) name?

You touch one critical point: the ending of the word has a meaning in its specialized field; corresponds to a certain level in a hierarchical classification, an “epoch”, and the names of all the epochs have the same ending: it is cited and used at any time without consideration, by assumed stupidity and conscious ignorance by refusing to study and understand stratigraphy and geochronology.

Pushing the term “anthropocene” is actually an attack to science: resulting from the belief that anyone can have a saying in the sciences he did not study and (this is the most important and dangerous) is allowed to dictate and change it in order to make it correspond to his ideas, ideology or interests.

John Tillman
Reply to  Joao Martins
November 29, 2021 12:08 pm

“-Cene” comes for the Greek word for “recent” or “new”. Epochs in the Cenozoic Era get progressively closer to recent life forms, from the “old-recent” to “dawn-recent” to “few-recent” to “less-recent” to “more-recent” to “most-recent” to the bogus “whole-recent”.

The Holocene is really just another garden variety Pleistocene interglacial.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
bonbon
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 11:34 am

Taking the Turkish for the oldest known hunter collector settlements, Göbekli Tepe, meaning Pot Belly Hill,
how about Anthropolofos ?

John Tillman
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 12:27 pm

Hunter-gatherers formed at least seasonal, small settlements tens of thousands of years ago, but Gobekli Tepe has stone structures. It however may have been a worship site rather than a permanently occupied city. It’s not near water, and no signs of agriculture have yet been definitely found. However remains of game animals have been.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
bonbon
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 1:32 pm

There are now 23 sites identified, not temples, actually settlements with food collection and storage before agriculture. This is hugely important. It seems the agricultural revolution used the collector infrastructure. Who would have thought.

Before Schmidt looked closely these hills were geological tales. A year later he changed the books totally. And they are still digging. So geology can quickly become anthropology. That is why let the stones speak :

This to my mind epitomizes Anthropocene 11,800 BP:
Nearby site is obviously a water cistern.
Boncuklu Tarla is even older. And It think it is fitting if you visit Istanbul and do a tour of the water cistern (more advanced of course ) :

07_p43.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by bonbon
bonbon
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 1:42 pm

Here :

John Tillman
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 1:52 pm

Not 11,800 BP, but 9500 BC, ie at most 11.550 BP, but probably younger.

The cisterns were to collect sparse rainwater. Agriculture wouldn’t have been possible there, It’s too far from water.

Though archaeologists are divided, the site is most likely a religious pilgrimage site, occupied only during the migration season of the animals whose bones have been found there.

Ruleo
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 2:33 pm

“religious pilgrimage site”

Yeah… sure… ok…

John Tillman
Reply to  Ruleo
November 29, 2021 3:27 pm

Like Stonehenge thousands of years later.

Richard Page
Reply to  Ruleo
November 30, 2021 11:33 am

Trust me, it’s a rule of thumb for archaeologists – if you can’t find an obvious use for a structure, then it’s ‘religious’ or ‘ritual’.

bonbon
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 1:47 pm

here :
Plenty of auroch bones found – not domesticated. It is pre-agriculture.

basilica-cistern-istanbul.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by bonbon
John Tillman
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 3:29 pm

It’s not pre-agriculture. It’s Pre-Pottery Neolithic, which means agriculture but not advanced ceramics or metallurgy.

bonbon
Reply to  John Tillman
November 30, 2021 1:44 am

So they propose hunter – collector, instead of simple gatherer.
The gathered and stored already.

Forrest
November 29, 2021 10:16 am

So… the time period where the man began to utilize the earth rather than live like an animal and be subject to the constant changes in weather? You mean the nice time period?

Oh right, because we are going to destroy the planet – which we may but CO2 is probably not going to be the downfall – I am more worried about – oh nuclear warfare maybe?

Chaswarnertoo
Reply to  Forrest
November 29, 2021 10:21 am

CO2 is dangerously low. It would be much better around 1000 ppm. Sadly, there is not enough fossil fuel available to produce this ideal food growing climate.

alastair gray
Reply to  Forrest
November 29, 2021 10:44 am

How about the Balmiferous to reflect our transition to balmy weather

Abolition Man
Reply to  Forrest
November 29, 2021 1:31 pm

Forrest,
Far more dangerous than nuclear warfare would be the creation of an AI that likes to play with viral design! Look at how deadly it’s been with mostly idiots doing all the work!

Doug Danhoff
November 29, 2021 10:20 am

As a geologist I object to naming a period of time that doesn’t have a geological event as it’s starting point . No asteroid, No mega Volcanic area , no glaciation . Living in an interglacial period I find it a bit of fabrication to name any present event as the beginning of an epoch.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 1:53 pm

Hope you’re right about the demise of the Anthropocene, in a rare triumph of science over ideology.

Richard S Courtney
Reply to  Doug Danhoff
November 29, 2021 10:38 am

Doug Danhoff,

Many named periods of time do not have a geological event as their starting points. There are two types; one pertains to human technology (e.g. neolithic, bronze age, etc.) and the other to political periods (e.g. Tudor, Victorian, etc.).

In my opinion the claim that there is an anthropocene era is purely political. It has the purpose of promoting the idea that humans have as great an effect on development of the planet as geological phenomena.

Richard

John Tillman
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
November 29, 2021 10:50 am

“Period” in geology is a subdivision of “era” and composed of “epochs”.

You’re right that some Precambrian eons, eras and periods don’t have geological markers, but all periods in the Phanerozoic Eon do. The First Appearance Datum of the Cambrian Period lies at Green Point, Newfoundland. The Cambrian is the first period of the Phanerozoic Eon and Paleozoic Era. The preceding Ediacaran Period also has definred upper and lower boundaries.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 12:36 pm

The base of the preceding Cryogenian Period however lacks such a marker, but is set at a fixed rock age on 720 million years ago (changed in 2015 from its original 1990 date of 850 Ma). It’s named for its two Snowball Earth glaciations.

Period markers are usually fossils of animals or plants. When the first animals, ie protosponges or true sponges, arose is controversial. They definitely existed in the Cambrian, Phylum Porifera, even if lacking some traits of modern sponges, probably arose in the Ediacaran, Cryogenian or even the preceding Tonian Period of the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 1:05 pm

Earth history is divided into four eons: Hadean, Archaean, Proterozoic and Phanerozoic. The latter two are based at least in part upon the kind of life found within them.

The Hadean hasn’t been formally subdivided into eras. The Archaean has Eo-, Paleo-, Meso- and Neo- Eras. Similarly the Proterozoic contains Paleo-, Meso- and Neo- Eras. Our Phanerozoic Era consists of the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and present Cenozoic Eras, each composed of periods, with six Paleo-, three Meso- and two Ceno-.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 1:09 pm

The Proterozoic included the so-called Boring Billion years, boring only if you consider the evolution of multicellularity and sex ho-hum.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
November 29, 2021 12:13 pm

Many named periods of time do not have a geological event as their starting points.

Yes, but your examples are for human historical time intervals, or significant technologies. Why should they have an associated geological event?

Richard S Courtney
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
November 29, 2021 12:33 pm

Clyde Spencer,

They don’t have an associated geological event. That was my point.
My first sentence said,
Many named periods of time do not have a geological event as their starting points.”
I explained that by adding,
“There are two types; one pertains to human technology (e.g. neolithic, bronze age, etc.) and the other to political periods (e.g. Tudor, Victorian, etc.).”

And I said,
In my opinion the claim that there is an anthropocene era is purely political. It has the purpose of promoting the idea that humans have as great an effect on development of the planet as geological phenomena.

I really don’t know how I could have been clearer.

Richard

ATheoK
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
November 29, 2021 12:32 pm

???
Exactly, as defined by abundant evidence, when did the neolithic end?
Exactly, when did the bronze age begin and end?
Exactly, when did the iron age begin?

And how is all of these proven worldwide?

Those are simple general descriptors for mankind’s technological level, not defined pervasive geology or archaeology periods of time evident by physical finds.

Richard S Courtney
Reply to  ATheoK
November 29, 2021 12:38 pm

Atheok,

Pray tell,
Exactly, when did any geological period begin and end?

And what relationship is there between what I wrote and any of the questions you asked me?

Richard

John Tillman
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
November 29, 2021 1:37 pm

Geologic periods, unlike archaeological or historical intervals, do have well-defined beginnings and ends.

Richard S Courtney
Reply to  David Middleton
December 1, 2021 3:46 am

David Middleton,

Yes. But Atheok was trolling me (not for the first time) so I gave him/her/them/it a slap-down.

Richard

ATheoK
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
December 4, 2021 5:52 pm

Missed the slap!

You goofed and won’t admit it.

ATheoK
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
December 4, 2021 5:51 pm

Why?

Because you arrogantly wrote this:

“Many named periods of time do not have a geological event as their starting points.”

I explained that by adding,

“There are two types; one pertains to human technology (e.g. neolithic, bronze age, etc.) and the other to political periods (e.g. Tudor, Victorian, etc.).”

Where you erroneously:
A) claimed that most epochs/ages do not have defined geological markers.

Add in a presumption that disbelieves those end/begin geological markers are not found in many places world wide marking the same period.

B) The alleged stone age, copper age, bronze age, iron age, industrial age are not defined by clear markers of any sort!

Someone opines technology periods are obvious, yet never questions the problem that different civilizations experienced their own levels of technology advancement.
Most civilizations never advanced beyond Neolithic!

Most civilization experienced some form of agriculture advancement and their efforts benefit modern humans. No-one can identify exactly where/what started or the progression of agriculture technology!

Who gives a fart about Tudor? Victorian? They aren’t even regionally recognized, let alone globally!

alastair gray
Reply to  Doug Danhoff
November 29, 2021 10:46 am

OK it is the Hockeystickiferous epoch. Started in East Anglia and then reached its glorious distinguishment in Penn State

bonbon
Reply to  alastair gray
November 29, 2021 11:00 am

Sounds better than Hockeytickipagus.

Chaswarnertoo
November 29, 2021 10:22 am

Just call it the adjustocene.

Oldseadog
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 10:44 am

Adjustoscam?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 12:19 pm

Yes, the “-cene” suffix is clearly inappropriate. It would appear to be derived from the thinking of an anthropodufus.

How about “Anthropogene Event,” as a derivative of anthropogenic?

Last edited 1 month ago by Clyde Spencer
bonbon
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
November 29, 2021 1:14 pm

Anthropogene is good!

I thought there was a mass extinction of Anthropodufus, the Giant Sloth?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 4:45 pm

I haven’t kept up with the re-naming of the geological time scale. 🙁

bonbon
Reply to  David Middleton
November 30, 2021 1:45 am

Bit like the Corona variants?

Richard Page
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 5:33 pm

Adjustaion? An eon being a long but indeterminate period?

Richard Page
Reply to  David Middleton
November 30, 2021 6:48 am

Yeah but I thought adjustoblip might be far, far too frivolous!

John Endicott
Reply to  David Middleton
November 30, 2021 8:11 am

Doesn’t matter, with a few adjustments, Eons will be as long or as short as we need to fit the narrative 😉

Brian Pratt
November 29, 2021 10:32 am

A propos their Figure 1, the growth of the continental ice sheets during the Pleistocene glaciations would have done a whole lot of deforestation too.

MarkW
November 29, 2021 10:34 am

If you really want to be anal about it, the Anthropocene should start when our earliest ancestors started using one rock to shape another.

MarkW
November 29, 2021 10:37 am

Current usage of the term ‘Anthropocene’ conceals a wide range of conflicting scientific meanings that has caused confusion among scholars and the broader public with whom they engage. 

Simpler solution, tell them to stop using Anthropocene since it has no recognized definition.

Richard S Courtney
Reply to  MarkW
November 29, 2021 10:59 am

MarkW,

I support your suggestion that terms which have “no recognized definition” should not be used, but I understand the desire to do it.

An entire industry has developed to produce and use time series of Global Average Temperature (GAT) but there is no recognized definition of GAT so each team that produces time series of GAT uses its own – and unique – definition of it which each team often changes (the effect of these changes to a definition of GAT can be seen at a glance at e.g. this http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/graphs/giss/hansen-giss-1940-1980.gif ).

Richard

Red94ViperRT10
Reply to  MarkW
November 29, 2021 3:36 pm

…a wide range of conflicting scientific meanings that has caused confusion…

That’s a feature, not a bug.

Richard Page
Reply to  MarkW
November 29, 2021 5:35 pm

A result of some academics having too much free time on their hands and nothing better to do.

Rick K
November 29, 2021 10:38 am

“Figure 1 from the paper provides a conceptual timeline for how an Anthropocene Event could be a useful tool in connecting the human activities to the Geologic Time Scale (GTS).”

It mentions “deforestation,” but totally neglects the actual GREENING of the Earth going on at the moment due to our “anthropogenic” production of CO2. That is just as much an artifact and not nearly the stretch regarding so-called “mass extinctions.”

Rick K
November 29, 2021 10:42 am

David! I got it!  How about the “Anthroimbecilic.”  

Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 12:16 pm

Give that man a cigar?
You are a product of the imbecilic age.
The imbecilic age started after we thought that Enlightenment was our big step forward. Before that “milestone” we acted like normal creatures.

bonbon
Reply to  leonardo
November 29, 2021 1:08 pm

Hold on a minute – tobacco started the Antropokapnos “:

Bob Newhart – Tobacco video (Sir Walter Raleigh phone conversation)

Mr.
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 5:43 pm

Classic!

bonbon
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 1:09 pm

Anthropotsigaro?

John M
November 29, 2021 11:41 am

I still prefer the anthroporcine. It reflects the grant-seeking proclivities of the major players perfectly.

bonbon
Reply to  John M
November 29, 2021 1:03 pm

On the Hogs back!

John M
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 3:45 pm

Indeed. And to think, new generations of scientists used to stand on the shoulders of giants.

November 29, 2021 11:47 am

The is already something in geology called “The Recent” which serves its purpose.

Reply to  David Middleton
November 30, 2021 12:08 am

Nope, I just stated digging in the interesting mix of archeology and quatertnary geology. Recent is not identical to holocene. There is a diachrone across the world. E.g in iceland the Recent only started in 874 AD.

WXcycles
November 29, 2021 11:55 am

As a geological event, however, the Anthropocene would encompass a broader variety of anthropogenic effects throughout human history. 

The term “throughout human history” is more than sufficient for those so preoccupied. We all know what it means and somehow Archaeology never felt a need for more to date in order to fully engage in its field of research.

Julian Flood
November 29, 2021 11:57 am

Either the Maskocene or the Beercanocene, both will be easy to identify in the geology.

JF

bonbon
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 1:02 pm

We’ve moved on from that – Twist to Open. Major progress, what?

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
November 29, 2021 12:14 pm

Can someone please point out to me the mass extinctions that have supposedly already occurred since 1950? All I ever hear about are claimed modeled future mass extinctions. These contrived extinctions are usually driven by a beyond-worst-case GHG emission scenario with a religious-like conviction this then leads to extreme climate changes based on outputs of garbage GCMs.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 3:04 pm

Extinct elephant birds of Madagascar are ranked as a ratite family.

Mastodons and gomphotheres are rated as proboscidean families, although the latter might be a wastebasket taxon. Various (six?) ground sloth families of the Americas also went extinct in the Holocene.

Australian marsupial Diprotodon and its kin also represented a family. Ditto thylacocines, like the Tasmanian Devil. Wonambi snakes likewise were a family, as were an extinct turtle group there, and a crocodilian subfamily or family.

Extinct Oz thunder birds and their kin are considered an order. NZ moas also are categorized in their own order.

I’m trying to think of other Pleistocene-Holocene extinctions at the Linnaean levels of fanily and order, but am hard pressed. No doubt I’ve missed some, but still not a mass extinction even remotely comparable to the Big Five.

By contrast, the Permian MEE finished off the trilobites, which were themselves a subphylum of Arthropoda, but also the last representatives of a clade between that level and phylum.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
Red94ViperRT10
Reply to  David Middleton
November 29, 2021 3:46 pm

So what is so unique about the Hirola that it rates its own genus?

John Tillman
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
November 29, 2021 4:19 pm

Recent genetic analyses on karyotypic and mitochondrial DNA support the hypothesis that the hirola (genus Beatragus) is distinct from the topi and should be placed in its own genus. They also indicate that, among the subfamily Alcelaphinae (wildebeest, hartebeest, bontebok, etc.) of family Bovidae, the hirola is in fact more closely related to genus Alcelaphus than to Damaliscus (including topis). Previously, Beatragus had sometimes been considered a subgenus of Damaliscus.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24516191/

Placing the hirola in its own genus is further supported by behavioral observations.

Neither Alcelaphus nor Damaliscus engage in flehmen, where the male tastes the urine of the female to determine oestrus. They are the only genera of bovids to have lost this behavior. Hirola still engages in flehmen, although it is less obvious than in other species, so represents an intermediate stage of evolution.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 29, 2021 8:18 pm

Joel, my understanding is that they estimate the total number of species on the earth then when unable to find them all, declare the 6th extinction.

Good work if you can get it. Circular reasoning to a fault.

ATheoK
November 29, 2021 12:19 pm

Figure 1 from the paper provides a conceptual timeline for how an Anthropocene Event could be a useful tool in connecting the human activities to the GTS.”

Comprising a number of assumptions, that if provable are only provable in specific locations for extremely brief periods of human existence.

No one can visit any significant archaeology dig site and firmly identify these assumptions or identify exactly when/how/why they occurred.

Making it, as a tool, useless.

ThinkingScientist
November 29, 2021 12:27 pm

Hubrisocene

Narcissicene

Rob_Dawg
November 29, 2021 12:31 pm

The people proosing these silly names are definitely Anthropustules.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Rob_Dawg
November 29, 2021 2:54 pm

I’m guessing you were going for “proposing” but if “proosing” isn’t a word, it sure ought to be.

“You’ve been sitting around proosing all day.”

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 29, 2021 8:15 pm

I think that is what the scientologists do when they settle down in front of the tv with a glass of wine and some tissues to watch “After Humans” and other end of times climate porn on natgeo.

Ick

Last edited 1 month ago by Pat from kerbob
Rory Forbes
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
November 29, 2021 9:44 pm

Indeed yes. Proosing vintage NatGeo of a cold winter night, I always turn to Disney Corp for my reimagined science … ‘Mass Extinctions: You are there‘ …

James F. Evans
November 29, 2021 12:32 pm

What is this epoch?

Depends on perspective.

Geologically, it seems almost somnolent, given evidences in the geologic record.

Civilization, man’s record on the planet?

We’re having an impact, but nothing we can’t handle or the Earth.

Dill baby dill.

Oil has been a boon to Mankind.

James F. Evans
Reply to  James F. Evans
November 29, 2021 1:06 pm

Oops, “Drill baby, drill.”

That’s better.

John Tillman
Reply to  James F. Evans
November 29, 2021 1:40 pm

Unless in reference to salad dressing or mashed potatoes.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 2:56 pm

So what have you got against pickles?

John Tillman
Reply to  Rory Forbes
November 29, 2021 3:32 pm

I like dill pickles. Just forgot them.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 8:13 pm

Salmon

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
November 29, 2021 12:35 pm

The comparison of electrical grid failures and extinctions is interesting. But I like to think in terms of Nassim Taleb’s Anti-Fragile framework of how things collapse and how things don’t collapse when stressed.
The premise of Taleb’s Anti-Fragile is that bottom-up, organically organized systems become anti-fragile when stressed. Stress and perturbations are necessary to induce antifrgility, that is get stronger with stress. We see this everywhere in biology of life. From Our bones, our immune system to the smallest bacteria in evloving bacterial resistance to antibiotics stresses are examples of anti-fragility in nature.
In human systems, capitalism left alone from top-down controls allows ownership of private property and protection of those property rights to include IP and the economuc system gets stronger with stressors even as it grow more complex, it becomes anti-Fragile. It needs stressors to become that way.

The supply chain problems we see now could become catastrophic and the blame is appropriately being put on top-down control measures for political purpose due to COVID controls and possibly climate scams. Top down organization and control in accord with Taleb’s antifragile construct leads to fragile systems that can easily break when stressed. The political example is the inevitable collapse of the USSR with its centralized planning economic system.

Our supply chains government interventions are attempting to be top-down managed to correct, and to an extent some parts are in China are by the CCP and its political priorities. Every economiuc historian now seems to agree that the 1930’s Depression was made long lasting by FDRs attempts to control the economy. Something similar but not a bad happened by Obama’s attempts to soften the 2008 world-wide economic crash which only lengthened the prolonged laggard economic growth during the Obama years.

The take-away: Top down control and top-down directed organization always leads to fragile systems that easily break under stress.

bonbon
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 29, 2021 1:19 pm

Models again.
If they worked why is the model of modern bankers Marc Carney asking for a $150 TRILLION green bailout?
I’m afraid modelling is not confined to Vogue…

MarkW
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 4:31 pm

I see bonbon is still pushing the belief that a government failure proves the free market doesn’t work.

bonbon
Reply to  MarkW
November 30, 2021 1:47 am

Discuss that with Carney. Help him out.

Duane
November 29, 2021 12:38 pm

Cyanobacteria had a far greater impact on the planet than man, or any other creature. They essentially created the oxygen from sunlight and carbon to produce what eventually became our breathable oxygen rich atmosphere that supports not only all other plants and animals, but also created massive amounts of oxidized rocks in the earth’s crust – indicated by red sandstones in highly eroded areas of our planet.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Duane
November 29, 2021 12:57 pm

Prior to the Great Oxygenation, there was certainly a lot more water on Earth than today. The oxygen is in vast oxidized mineral form in the crust while the hydrogens protons were either incorpated into organic compounds or escaped to space.

bonbon
Reply to  Duane
November 29, 2021 1:17 pm

And the chloroplast that started the Great oxygenation firehose (early Champagne) was brought in by a cometary virus also. It killed off all the anaerobic party goers.

So go easy on COVID – the comet tail did SOME good previously!

John Tillman
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 1:42 pm

Chloroplasts evolved from cyanobacteria engulfed by eukaryotic cells. Cyanobacteria evolved from chemosynthetic bacteria. No comets need apply.

bonbon
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 1:44 pm

Viral transfer, well known now, not Darwin stuff.

John Tillman
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 1:57 pm

Chloroplasts did not arise via viral transfer, but by a eukaryote’s engulfing a cyanobacterium, same as with the first mitochondrion, a bacteria engulfed by an archeon, via endosymbiosis.

Endosymbiosis is not an example of darwinian evolution. It’s a different process. Following it, natural selection of course operated, plus transfer of endosymbiont DNA into the nucleus.

Chloroplasts, like mitochondria and other plastids, still retain their own DNA, and even conduct independent protein synthesis in their own ribosomes. Hundreds of chloroplast DNAs have been sequenced. They indubitably derive from captive cyanobacteria.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
bonbon
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 2:53 pm

Just a question – a very complex subject :
The Elysia chlorotica sea slug gets its brilliant green hue from chloroplasts, originally ingested from Vaucheria litorea algae, and stored in its digestive system. The slug’s ability to use the stolen chloroplasts to photosynthesize comes from genetic material transferred to the slug by a viral infection. Mysteriously, the same virus seems to kill off the adult sea slugs, almost simultaneously, at the end of their life cycle.

Here is an example of a viral vector. This is something other than engulfing….

John Tillman
Reply to  bonbon
November 29, 2021 3:39 pm

The sea slug uses chloroplasts from the algae it eats in order to photosynthesize. No viral vector involved.

But that’s far removed from the endosymbiosis which created algae in the first place, ie the engulfing of one unicell, ie a cyanobacterium, by another, ie a eukaryote, which had already engulfed a bacterium to form its proto-mitochondrion.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Tillman
bonbon
Reply to  John Tillman
November 30, 2021 1:37 am

https://www.pnas.org/content/105/46/17867
Horizontal gene transfer of the algal nuclear gene psbO to the photosynthetic sea slug Elysia chlorotica
https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.2307/1542990

Never knew this sea slug was so complicated!

Last edited 1 month ago by bonbon
John Tillman
Reply to  Duane
November 29, 2021 2:28 pm

First, the O2 in seawater rusted the iron there, which precipitated out to form the red bands which gave us iron ore deposits. Then the excess oxygen started building up in the oceans and air, causing the mass extinction of anaerobic organisms.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  John Tillman
November 29, 2021 5:23 pm

The red banding and iron deposits I thought represented the sudden end of snowball Earth events. The scenario goes sea water covered by ice sheets becomes iron-saturated from thermal vents and deep marine vuclanism. The deoxygenated, iron laden sea water was then quickly exposed to O2 in the atmosphere when the sea ice suddenly retreated causing a rapid precipitation of the iron out of solution to the shallow sea floors to create the concentrated iron ore deposits we mine today.

Gary Pearse
November 29, 2021 1:06 pm

One other trouble with the “Anthropocene” is the proximal border of it isn’t at the point of extinction of anthropes! We will be doing our best to continue living and we have the tools to create our an environment (writ large) conducive to our flourishing.

Moreover, if we become extinct, as is the most fervid hope of certain self loathing members of our species, (perhaps a sign of their lack of fitness for survival) then there is no point to either the Anthropocene or even the entire geological timescale.

I note that the ‘Totes’ want to use perceived ‘negative’ aspects of anthrope development to ID the ‘formation’ in question. Actually, the only palpable climate change thus far is “The Great Greening ^тм” of the planet and it’s synergistic bumper crops, and expanding habitat for fellow creatures and plants, courtesy of the burning of fossil fuels. Now this is an identifier of the ‘cene’ I could live with, an admirable compromise.

Vuk
November 29, 2021 2:22 pm

This is age of twitter, how about Anthropotwit, not very good but since Jack Dorsey resigned today the new CO has to be the Twit no One from today. This caught my eye earlier so you might like to see (I’ll upload image since might be a no no word included)

Screenshot_2021-11-29-23-07-18.png
Michael S. Kelly
November 29, 2021 6:58 pm

As an aside, I think we need a timescale for such discussions that more people can grasp in human terms. I propose the “SNLya” unit time scale, defined as years since Saturday Night Live was funny. It’s a scale modern Americans can grasp (the younger ones barely), and is approaching geologic scale.

A win-win if you ask me…or even if you don’t.

Vlad the Impaler
November 29, 2021 8:28 pm

I propose any of the following; adjust the suffixes as needed to comply with GTS standards of naming time divisions:

Selfy-o-cene

Cell-Phoney-o-cene

Screen-Zombie-o-cene

Vlad the Impaler
Reply to  David Middleton
November 30, 2021 8:10 pm

Dr. Middleton:

So, here’s what we do. We designate a new level of geological time division, one that will preserve the pronuncation of the original proposal, thusly:

Geochronologic Chronostratigraphic

Eon Eonothem
Era Erathem
Period System <—– “SysTHEM?”
Epoch Series
Age Stage
SCENE Act or Event

So it would become the ‘AnthropoSCENE’ to coincide with the ‘Anthropoact’ or ‘Anthropovent’.

Makes as much sense as the original proposal, doncha think?

Regards,

Vlad

P.S. Sorry if things do not line up on the actual post; preview mode was not certain of how things would look in the final posting. Apologies if things are mis-aligned.

Raphael Ketani
November 29, 2021 9:25 pm

The whole idea of an Anthropocene “event” smacks of the same political correctness and distorted thinking that gives us anthropogenic CO2 as the “control knob” for climate change. Some scientists with an agenda have been pushing the idea of calling for an Anthropocene epoch (now called an event) in order to promote themselves and gain grant money. The whole thing makes no sense as human impacts on the world are mainly limited to disturbances on the land. Also, these land disturbances are concentrated in already crowded areas. Of all of the articles I have read and pictures I have seen of the Arctic, Antarctic, sub-Arctic and dense jungle, I have yet to see extensive impacts. Sorry, but “this doesn’t fly.”

Also, there is no scientific proof that Homo sapiens killed off the Neanderthals – or any other near humans for that matter. Out competed them, I guess, but the jury is still out on the subject and probably will be resolved by considering a more complex scenario of events.

Regarding the mega fauna, there were some extinctions caused by humans in very limited areas. The dodo comes to mind, of course. However, again, you have to consider the changing climate at the end of the last ice age. Mother Nature is not kind. If human beings were the cause, then the musk ox, polar bears, grizzly bear and many more should have disappeared. Why did the mammoth disappear? Scientific research still hasn’t explained this. Also, many species of mega fauna disappeared from Africa, but this is rarely mentioned in the literature.

Mike Proctor
November 30, 2021 4:03 am

Where do the CO2 emissions from farming, 7000 years ago, and CH4 emissions 4000 years ago come from? Carbon balance for farming is surely neutral? All farming does is pass carbon through a cycle in which CO2 and CH4 are intermediates. It doesn’t create or destroy carbon. Or have I missed something?

Last edited 1 month ago by Mike Proctor
Don
November 30, 2021 10:34 am

Instead of Anthroplitan how about Neapolitan? Spumoni could also work and has a better flavor with the same territorial history of volcanic eruptions.

AndyHce
November 30, 2021 6:22 pm

I there any actual definition of a “geological event”?

Mandobob
December 1, 2021 7:45 am

Enough already with this stupid anthropocene (not you David). We already have an existing Holocene which makes an anthropocene redundant, dumb and patently stupid. BTW I refuse to capitalize the word because it is not a proper noun.

%d bloggers like this: