Anthropocene: another academic invention?

Research paper by Guido Visconti

Indexed on: 06 Aug '14Published on: 06 Aug '14Published in: Rendiconti Lincei. Scienze fisiche e naturali


The concept of Anthropocene is examined in its various aspects from the meaning of the word to its relevance in scientific research. The etymology of the word is not consistent with the meaning of other geologic epochs. The basic assumption that Anthropocene is shaping the planet is challenged considering that natural processes are and will be operating on the planet and have the potential to obliterate any trace left by the human activity. The reasons for the introduction of the epoch classification are also examined, and it is concluded that signals (different from geological ones) left by the present epoch will be of such precision to make useless any new classification. Finally, the political side of the new epoch is examined. Anthropocene is used as a basis to support the concept that nature is gone, and thus that there are no limits to its exploitation. On the other hand, to the Anthropocene are attributed all environmental changes, neglecting the fact that human is not the only factor affecting nature. Finally, it is noted that if one accepts the early Anthropocene hypothesis, only a fraction of the Holocene will remain.