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Should science rename the modern era after humans?


The Anthropocene? Is this hubris? Realism? Disjointed nonsense? Politics?

Here’s a look at some of the issues, via Gaia Vince ( Science 7 October 2011:

o geologists, a stripe of black rock abutting a pale gray section of cliff in Dob’s Linn gorge in the United Kingdom represents one of the major transitions in Earth’s history, the boundary between the Ordovician and Silurian periods. Now, scientists say, the planet has crossed another geological boundary, a transformation that will leave its own signature stripe in the rocks—and humans are the changemakers. An influential group of geologists, ecologists, and biologists argue that humans have so changed the planet that it is entering another phase of geological time, called the Anthropocene, “the Age of Man.” Humanity, they contend, can be considered a geophysical force on a par with supervolcanoes, asteroid impacts, or the kinds of tectonic shift that led to the massive glaciation of the Ordovician. The Anthropocene debate is continuing next week at the 2011 Geological Society of America conference.

(You have to pay to read the whole article.)

Question: Which other eras were named after a single life form?

Anyway if they do rename the modern era after us, can’t we just tell the guys who say that humans are insignificant to go get themselves another beer and then sit at another table?

(Note: ) Here’s a free bit of background:

The scientists propose that, in just two centuries, humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes to our world that we actually might be ushering in a new geological time interval, and alter the planet for millions of years.


How about the "Plutonian" age, when all sorts of never-before-seen isotopes appear in the rock formations? I heard about a cosmic ray detector that reused plate steel from a sunken WWI freighter, because all modern plate steel has too much radioactivity in it. Geologically, that is what you're going to find 10,000 years from now when you excavate the ruins of Western Civilization. "Looks like these foundations predate the Plutonian Era..." Robert Sheldon
Any connection with BioSphere2 project leader John Allen's idea of naming human beings in the kingdom 'Symbolica'? Gregory

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