Humans Have Been Changing the Planet for Millennia
Instances of how human social orders are changing the planet proliferate — from structure streets and houses, clearing timberlands for agribusiness and burrowing train burrows, to contracting the ozone layer, driving species terminated, changing the atmosphere and acidifying the seas. Human effects are all over. Our social orders have changed Earth so much that it’s difficult to turn around huge numbers of these impacts.
A few analysts accept these progressions are enormous to the point that they mark the start of another “human age” of Earth history, the Anthropocene age. A council of geologists has now proposed to check the beginning of the Anthropocene in the mid-twentieth century, in light of a striking marker: the generally dispersed radioactive dust from atomic bomb tests in the mid-1950s.
Others debate the utility of picking a single thin line in Earth’s geological record to mark the start of human impacts in the geological record. Maybe the Anthropocene began at different times in different parts of the world.
If there are multiple beginnings, scientists need to answer more complicated questions — like when did agriculture begin to transform landscapes in different parts of the world? This is a tough question because archaeologists tend to focus their research on a limited number of sites and regions and to prioritize locations where agriculture is believed to have appeared earliest.