Human activities are reshaping the evolution of the Earth, pushing it into a new and uncertain geological time period, a new study published today in Science Magazine has concluded.
The landmark paper, co-authored by Climate Councillor Professor Will Steffen, argues that the evidence is now overwhelming that humanity’s impact on the planet is rivalling the great forces of nature.
The authors argue the planet has now left the Holocene epoch that has existed for the past 11,700 years – the period in which human civilisation has developed and flourished – and entered a much less stable geological epoch called the Anthropocene.
Co-author Professor Steffen said the paper was a planetary wake-up call.
“The Holocene climate is the only climate state that we know for certain can support our complex human societies,” Prof Steffen said.
“The action we take now will determine whether or not our descendants will view this period as the time when we allowed the climate to get out of control and irrevocably changed the Earth system, to the detriment of human wellbeing in the future.“
“A rapid transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy is a must to safeguard our climate against further damage and ensure that human societies continue to prosper as they do today.”
The paper is a major contribution to the case for formally recognising the Anthropocene epoch at the International Commission for Stratigraphy convention in September in South Africa.
You can read the full study here.
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