A formal Anthropocene is compatible with but distinct from its diachronous anthropogenic counterparts: a response to W.F. Ruddiman’s ‘three flaws in defining a formal Anthropocene’
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© The Author(s) 2019. We analyse the ‘three flaws’ to potentially defining a formal Anthropocene geological time unit as advanced by Ruddiman (2018). (1) We recognize a long record of pre-industrial human impacts, but note that these increased in relative magnitude slowly and were strongly time-transgressive by comparison with the extraordinarily rapid, novel and near-globally synchronous changes of post-industrial time. (2) The rules of stratigraphic nomenclature do not ‘reject’ pre-industrial anthropogenic signals – these have long been a key characteristic and distinguishing feature of the Holocene. (3) In contrast to the contention that classical chronostratigraphy is now widely ignored by scientists, it remains vital and widely used in unambiguously defining geological time units and is an indispensable part of the Earth sciences. A mounting body of evidence indicates that the Anthropocene, considered as a precisely defined geological time unit that begins in the mid-20th century, is sharply distinct from the Holocene.
SubjectScience & Technology
geological time scale
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1177/0309133319832607
Publication InfoZalasiewicz, J; Waters, CN; Head, MJ; Poirier, C; Summerhayes, CP; Leinfelder, R; ... Cearreta, A (2019). A formal Anthropocene is compatible with but distinct from its diachronous anthropogenic counterparts: a response to W.F. Ruddiman’s ‘three flaws in defining a formal Anthropocene’. Progress in Physical Geography, 43(3). pp. 319-333. 10.1177/0309133319832607. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21229.
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Daniel D. Richter
Professor in the Division of Earth and Climate Science
Richter’s research and teaching links soils with ecosystems and the wider environment, most recently Earth scientists’ Critical Zone. He focuses on how humanity is transforming Earth’s soils from natural to human-natural systems, specifically how land-uses alter soil processes and properties on time scales of decades, centuries, and millennia. Richter's book, Understanding Soil Change (Cambridge University Press), co-authored with his former PhD
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