There’s no question about it. A new epoch—the Anthropocene—has begun.
So says an international group of geoscientists, in a paper published Friday in the journal Science. They point to waste disposal, fossil fuel combustion, increased fertilizer use, the testing and dropping of nuclear weapons, deforestation, and more as evidence that human activity has pushed the Earth into the new age that takes its name from the Greek anthropos, or human being.
Some argue the new era began in the 1950s, the decade that marks the beginning of the so-called “Great Acceleration,” when human population and its consumption patterns suddenly speeded up, and nuclear weapons tests dispersed radioactive elements across the globe.