A new study suggests that the Anthropocene epoch began in 1610. Anthropocene is a new human-dominated geological time period that marks the “Age of Man.” According to a study published in the journal Nature, researchers from the University College of London said that the arrival of Europeans in the Americas had an unprecedented effect on the Earth, marking the dawn of the ‘Age of Man.’
Anthropocene began when species jumped continents
Others believe that the Anthropocene began in 1964, with the fallout from the nuclear weapon tests. Geologists split the Earth’s history to reflect the periods of unprecedented changes on the planet, which could be a result of a major shift in climate, an asteroid strike, or continental movement. Formally, we are currently in the Holocene epoch, which began at the end of the last Ice Age 11,500 years ago.
But geologists argue that humans have dramatically altered the planet again. So, the ‘Age of Man’ deserves to be a new epoch. To specify the start of the new epoch, scientists are looking for clear signs. Simon Lewis, the co-author of the study, said the Anthropocene began when species jumped continents, when the Old World met the New World.
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Formally defining the new epoch would mean officially recognizing humans as a force of nature at a geological scale, on par with sustained volcanic eruptions, meteorite strikes, and plate tectonics. Scientists suggest that an unusual decline in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which can be measured in ice cores, suggests that the ongoing human-dominated geological epoch began in 1610.
The exact marker of the Anthropocene at 1610
The arrival of Europeans in the Americas about 100 years earlier marks the dawn of a major global transformation. It triggered a rapid global trade that moved species around. The Central American maize was grown in southern Europe, China and Africa. Sugar came to South America and wheat came to North America. These and many other species jumped continents, which is a geologically significant impact.
Ancient pollen found in sediments in many continents provide a record of this massive change. Scientists at the University College of London say there is yet another clear signal that relates to deadly diseases brought from Europe to the Americas. More than 50 million people in the Americas, mostly farmers, died due to diseases brought from Europe. As a result, far less CO2 was emitted as burning declined. More and more carbon was taken up by savannas, forests and woodlands that were regenerated after agricultural lands were abandoned.
It indicates that the Anthropocene epoch began in 1610, when there was the lowest concentration of CO2 in the ice core record at the time.