The Holocene epoch about 12,000 years ago during which the temperature has not varied more than 1 degree centigrade, CO2 remained at 280 ppm and sea levels have been very stable. It was during this period of stable temperature that humans flourished and spread further around the world and we have recorded history for most of it confirmed by archaeological digs.
Humans have always burnt the bush to regenerate plant growth and to make space for hunting and gardens and as this timing coincided with the Holocene epoch, I have always considered that the Anthropocene epoch commenced 12,000 years ago and that the two were the same. If it walks like a duck, it swims like a duck and it quacks like a duck then it’s a bloody duck. But apparently that’s not the case.
In order for the Anthropocene to be considered as a separate epoch there needs to be evidence in the layers of soil which can be clearly seen in thousands of years’ time. The whole process has to have evidence presented to a geological committee of peers and the evidence carefully considered before a decision is made.
Getting facts together indicates a start time of 1950 (when I was 10 years old) and this is because that was when modern human activity really took off. This is when the population expanded, water use and fertiliser use increased, ozone depletion started, there was an increase in floods, a big increase in paper production and car numbers, international tourism started and loss of the rain forests.
This activity is clearly shown with radiation dust from atomic bomb testing in the 1950’s, evidence is also in ice core samples with layers of carbon each year from burning coal and oil, evidence is in the sediment of ponds showing an increased number of floods and in the ocean floor with a layer of plastic.
Our activity is clearly shown in the samples taken from sites all round the world and we have changed the planet in ways that could not be anticipated when I was a boy and we really are in the Anthropocene epoch.