What is Anthropocene?
We are the Anthropocene
Over the past 100 years, humans have played an important role in changing the Earth and its ecosystems.
We have transitioned from ‘the Holocene’ into a new geological epoch scientists have labelled ‘the Anthropocene’ (the Age of Humans).
Anthropocene could become the world’s sixth mass extinction event
Earth has witnessed five mass extinction events (when around 70% of species disappear).
The most recent occurred 65 million years ago when dinosaurs went missing. We know this from the global fossil record.
We also know that all of these mass extinction events resulted from naturally occurring events (such as meteorite impacts, tectonic movements, massive volcanic activity and changes in atmospheric conditions).
What makes the Anthropocene so remarkable is that the driving force can be linked to the impact of one single species: us, the Homo Sapiens.
Plastic fossils might characterise the Anthropocene
Like the dinosaurs, scientists say the Anthropocene will leave a fossil record – possibly of plastic!
Scientists suggest future geologists will find plastics particularly in marine sediments but will also detect traces of pesticides, nitrogen, radionuclides and the rapid decline in the number of animal and plant species in the fossil record as a result of our lifestyles.
We need 1.6 Earths to satisfy our needs each year
Our natural capital (the stock of environmental assets) is limited, and right now, we exceed it.
Humans are consuming goods and services generated by nature at a rate as if we had 1.6 Earths at our disposal.
Australia has one of the biggest Ecological Footprints in the world
Countries consume different levels of our world’s natural capital due to different lifestyles and varying levels of consumption.
For years, Australia has placed disproportionate pressure on nature as we appropriate more than our fair share of the Earth’s resources.
There are solutions
Protecting the Earth’s natural capital and its ecosystems is in the interest of both people and nature. We can do this by making changes in the two big areas of energy and food production.
Find out more in the 2016 Living Planet Report.