The term Anthropocene is used to describe the current geological era. The Anthropocene is therefore an earth age in which mankind is the determining factor in the global ecological system. It is also emphasized that the human being is part of the ecosystem in whose radical change he is so centrally involved. Processes such as the extinction of species, climate change or the acidification of the oceans, to name just a few, are therefore human-made. The term holds the possibility of understanding these complex processes and poses a great challenge to mankind. At the same time, the term also inspires hope that human action will be able to halt and change this anthropogenic change(1,3).
Already in 2000, the meteorologist Paul J. Crutzen and the biologist Eugene F. Stoermer proposed the use of the term2. They locate the beginning of the era in the second half of the 18th century (invention of the steam engine by James Watt). According to their prognosis, this geological age can last for millions of years, unless a major catastrophe occurs, directly or indirectly triggered by mankind itself. As examples, they mention at this point enormous environmental catastrophes, an unexpected pandemic or even nuclear war(2).
Other authors see the beginning of the Anthropocene in the middle of the 20th century with the “Great Acceleration”. You can find out what this means under the letter Z of this climate-ABC.
1 (Bruhn, et al. 2020)
2 (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000)
3 (Rockström 2009)