We develop a classification scheme for the evolutionary state of planets
based on the non-equilibrium thermodynamics of their coupled systems, including
the presence of a biosphere and the possibility of what we call an
agency-dominated biosphere (i.e. an energy-intensive technological species).
The premise is that Earths entry into the Anthropocene represents what might be
from an astrobiological perspective a predictable planetary transition. We
explore this problem from the perspective of the solar system and exoplanet
studies. Our classification discriminates planets by the forms of free energy
generation driven from stellar forcing. We then explore how timescales for
global evolutionary processes on Earth might be synchronized with ecological
transformations driven by increases in energy harvesting and its consequences
(which might have reached a turning point with global urbanization). Finally,
we describe quantitatively the classification scheme based on the maintenance
of chemical disequilibrium in the past and current Earth systems and on other
worlds in the solar system. In this perspective, the beginning of the
Anthropocene can be seen as the onset of the hybridization of the planet - a
transitional stage from one class of planetary systems interaction to another.
For Earth, this stage occurs as the effects of human civilization yield not
just new evolutionary pressures, but new selected directions for novel
planetary ecosystem functions and their capacity to generate disequilibrium and
enhance planetary dissipation.