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A new human-led epoch: Scientists recommend officially declaring 'a new age of man'

The impact the human race has had on the Earth is so intense that scientists are recommending we move on from the Holocene and into a new epoch.


Operation Licorne ("Operation Unicorn") nuclear test, May 22, 1970.

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Air pollution, climate change, population growth, massive rainforest loss: The effect humanity has had on the Earth is undeniable. And, in the last 60 or so years -- since the time just after World War II -- this change has accelerated.

So much so that a group of scientists have recommended we officially enter the Anthropocene epoch, denoting a "new age of man." We'd be moving out of the 11,700-year Holocene epoch.

After seven years of deliberation, the 35-person Working Group voted 30-to-three (two members abstained) to register the change. On Monday, they submitted their recommendation to the International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.

"Our working model is that the optimal boundary is the mid-20th century," said University of Leicester geologist Jan Zalasiewicz. "If adopted -- and we're a long way from that -- the Holocene would finish and the Anthropocene would formally be held to have begun."

The approval process will take three years, and requires three other academic bodies to ratify the registration.