The Holocene has been a good time for human civilization to emerge and thrive. The seasons have been pretty regular, moving between relatively mild boundaries of hot-ish and cold-ish. That transition was the key change and allowed humans to get stable and productive agriculture started.
But, thanks to civilization, the Holocene is now at an end. That’s where the story gets really interesting and where the Anthropocene makes its entrance.
Scientists now recognize that our impact on Earth has become so significant we’ve pushed it out of the Holocene into the Anthropocene, an entirely new geological epoch dominated by our own activity (see Andy Revkin’s reporting on the subject). And it’s not just about climate change. Human beings have now “colonized” more than 50 percent of the planet’s surface. And we drive flows of key planetary substances, like potassium, far above the “natural” levels.
It may seem impossible to some folks that a bunch of hairless “primates” could change an entire planet. But that view misses the most important part of our story, the part that speaks directly to our moment in planetary evolution.