Humans have had such a marked impact on the earth that, in 2000, Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stormer proposed the term “anthropocene” to acknowledge the geological and ecological impact of humans. Now “anthropocene” is set to possibly become the formally defined geological unit “Anthropocene," through a proposal that will be fully developed by next year.
In the midst of the debate, a paper in Science this week suggests that the term should stay informal. The authors argue that there’s no single date that properly fulfils the criteria we've set for the beginning of a geological epoch.
The move to formalize the Anthropocene has been spearheaded by Paul Crutzen, a Nobel prize-winning chemist, and has significant support from many other researchers. In 2002, Crutzen suggested in Nature that the Anthropocene began in the late 18th century, with the invention of the steam engine. In geological terms, this is the point at which air trapped in polar ice begins to show increasing levels of carbon dioxide and methane.
» see original post http://feeds.arstechnica.com/~r/arstechnica/science/~3/WSqp8tYxWdg/