You Don't Need A Fancy Name To See The Effects Humans Have On Earth
Scientists can't decide whether it's time to officially mark the age of humans. Either way, our impact is here to stay.By Evan Thomas | September 2, 2016
Life has existed on earth for at least 3.5 billion years. Humans have only been around for about 200,000 of them. And the past 60 or so have been so significant that some experts say it's already time to officially record the impact of humans in the geological record.
Today, mankind influences more than 83 percent of the Earth's surface in some way or another. Our movements, agriculture, industry — and our nuclear testing especially — have left permanent marks on the fossil record.
Scientists call the human epoch — or want to call it — the Anthropocene. It could have started as early as 1800 and was definitely underway by the 1950s. But geologists say these markers aren't significant enough to warrant a new era. There just isn't enough impact in the fossil record yet — despite everything we've done to the planet.