In Big History, we measure time in terms of millions and billions of years. The Big Bang was nearly 14 billion years ago. The Earth was formed nearly 4.5 billion years ago. Homo sapiens arrived on the Earth roughly 200,000 years ago. These are inconceivably long periods of time. Yet more change has occurred in the last 250 years than in the rest of human history combined. This 250-year period, known as the Anthropocene, has seen a massive growth in human population, a change in the atmosphere and weather patterns, as well the harnessing of nuclear power.
This week in Berlin, a group of scientists and other scholars known as the Anthropocene Working Group are considering whether this new era officially represents a new age on the Geological Time Scale. Debated for years, the general acceptance of this new age would represent a seminal moment where scientists consider the impact of humans on the planet as a geological epoch.
If you are interested in learning more about the Anthropocene and the case for it, check out The Anthropocene: A New Geologic Epoch? written by Cynthia Stokes Brown for the Big History Project course.
For other coverage of the meeting see: