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A futurist perspective on the Anthropocene

AuthorsRull, Valentí
Human impact
Issue Date24-Apr-2013
PublisherSage Publications
CitationThe Holocene 23(8) :1198-1201 (2013)
AbstractAn important feature of the ongoing debate about the acceptance of the Anthropocene as a formal chronostratigraphic unit with the same rank as the Holocene (epoch) has been either the existence or the lack of a Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP). In addition, the utility of the Anthropocene as a stratigraphic unit has also been questioned. In this paper, it is proposed that the discovery of the GSSP may not be a major problem and could only be a matter of time. However, the term Anthropocene itself, defined on the basis of the stratigraphic expression of human activities (e.g. large-scale agriculture and land clearance, accelerated release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere) may significantly impact the current stratigraphic framework guided by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). Indeed, the formal usage of this term can not only lead to stratigraphic and terminological inconsistencies but can also influence the future development of the established chronostratigraphic scheme. These points should be considered by the ICS Anthropocene Working Group before making a final decision. The stratigraphic status of the Anthropocene, however, is a formal issue that should not affect current and future research on human-induced environmental and sedimentary changes, including their stratigraphic imprint. The message is twofold: leave the formal chronostratigraphic aspects to the ICS, and keep producing and organizing knowledge independently of the formal debate. Doing so would require the development of a parallel and likely transitory chronological system without formal stratigraphic value, from which the term Anthropocene would be, at least temporarily, excluded.
Description4 p. -- Post-print del artículo publicado en The Holocene. Versión revisada y corregida.
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