1. Summary

Human impacts also known as the anthropogenic impacts have become so pervasive, profound, and permanent thus exceedingly endangering the planet. This video shows an overview of the new and yet so criticized epoch called the Anthropocene, the epoch in which human activities are significantly accelerating and therefore causing a severe environmental/ecological degradation, leading to mass extinctions. Furthermore, it discusses the traces that human impacts might leave in the geological record compared to the other eras. It’s undeniable that human activities are nowhere close to asteroids and volcanic activity, but the impacts are as detrimental and capable of causing massive extinctions and catastrophes.

2. Why Watch This Video?

  • Have you ever wondered what our geological record will look like in the future?
  • Would you like to know how human impacts have evolved over time and become a core influence on the Anthropocene Epoch?
  • Have you ever been confused about what humans have done to cause such a profound impact, that no other species have?

3. Key Terms

  • Epoch – An interval of time on the geological timescale that can subdivide a geological period. Geological timescale intervals are defined based on remarkable and significant events that have happened.
  • The Anthropocene – Anthropo (human) and Cene (Current).  A recently proposed geological time that marks the significant events such as climate change that have been caused by human activities.
  • Anthropogenic – Ecological changes caused by humans.
  • Stratigraphy – an arrangement of rock layers and the events they represent.
  • Strata – The rock layers themselves. It is a core concept to understanding and interpreting the events that have happened in history.

4. Loose Ends

Is there enough stratigraphic evidence of the Anthropocene Epoch and is the Holocene Epoch already over?

The short answer is no. However, geologists and several other scholars are looking for evidence. The Anthropocene Epoch is a proposed humanity-forced geological epoch that is in progress, and not yet added as a new epoch. As a result, we are still in the Holocene Epoch.

Why is the new world not as resilient and flexible as the disappeared worlds of the past?

Human activities such as farming, fishing, and forestry, which increase greenhouse emissions—also known as anthropogenic activities—are causing several species to go extinct, thus leading to a low species diversity. We humans have not been on earth for long. However, within those few years we have created and destroyed so much and continue to do so. The contribution of millions of non-biodegradable materials is one of several causes acting as a source of pollution, thus threatening some unique species, such as microscopic plants, that are easily threatened by the environmental challenges caused by an increase in carbon dioxide. Under the circumstances, humans are threatened as well since the oxygen we breathe is supplied by those microscopic plants. (This is an example of commensalism, when one organism depends on another). This makes the world we live in less resilient.

How does the change in fossils help geologists in determining events in geological time?

The remains of destroyed organisms, or any form of life, help paleontologists and other scientists determine deep time, study the function of extinct organisms, and discover the causes of their extinction and the impact they had. The change in fossils is a core and essential subject of study because the details in those changes indicate major events, and how the earth evolved.

5. Self-Test Questions

Shared by: Anonymous

Item Credit: David Biello, TED-Ed

Reuse License:

Copy/Paste Text Attribution

Copy/Paste HTML Attribution