The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth‘s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change.
As of August 2016, neither the International Commission on Stratigraphy nor the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) has yet officially approved the term as a recognized subdivision of geological time, although the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS) of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), voted to proceed towards a formal golden spike (GSSP) proposal to define the Anthropocene epoch in the Geologic Time Scale and presented the recommendation to the International Geological Congress on 29 August 2016.
Various different start dates for the Anthropocene have been proposed, ranging from the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution 12,000–15,000 years ago, to as recent as the Trinity test in 1945. As of February 2018, the ratification process continues and thus a date remains to be decided definitively, but the latter date has been more favoured than others.
The most recent period of the Anthropocene has been referred to by several authors as the Great Acceleration during which the socioeconomic and earth system trends are increasing dramatically, especially after the Second World War. For instance, the Geological Society termed the year 1945 as The Great Acceleration.
An early concept for the Anthropocene was the Noosphere by Vladimir Vernadsky, who in 1938 wrote of “scientific thought as a geological force.” Scientists in the Soviet Union appear to have used the term “anthropocene” as early as the 1960s to refer to the Quaternary, the most recent geological period.[full citation needed]Ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer subsequently used “anthropocene” with a different sense in the 1980s and the term was widely popularized in 2000 by atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen, who regards the influence of human behavior on Earth’s atmosphere in recent centuries as so significant as to constitute a new geological epoch.
In 2008, the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London considered a proposal to make the Anthropocene a formal unit of geological epoch divisions. A majority of the commission decided the proposal had merit and should be examined further. Independent working groups of scientists from various geological societies have begun to determine whether the Anthropocene will be formally accepted into the Geological Time Scale.
The term “anthropocene” is informally used in scientific contexts. The Geological Society of America entitled its 2011 annual meeting: Archean to Anthropocene: The past is the key to the future. The new epoch has no agreed start-date, but one proposal, based on atmospheric evidence, is to fix the start with the Industrial Revolution ca. 1780, with the invention of the steam engine. Other scientists link the new term to earlier events, such as the rise of agriculture and the Neolithic Revolution (around 12,000 years BP). Evidence of relative human impact – such as the growing human influence on land use, ecosystems, biodiversity, and species extinction – is substantial; scientists think that human impact has significantly changed (or halted) the growth of biodiversity. Those arguing for earlier dates posit that the proposed Anthropocene may have begun as early as 14,000 to 15,000 years before present, based on geologic evidence; this has led other scientists to suggest that “the onset of the Anthropocene should be extended back many thousand years”;:1 this would be closely synchronous with the current term, Holocene.