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Episodes 2023; 46(2): 317-324

Published online June 1, 2023


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Public-minded reflections from the Anthropocene Working Group meeting in Germany

Emlyn Koster

Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA

Correspondence to:*E-mail: koster.emlyn@gmail.com

Received: July 31, 2022; Revised: August 10, 2022; Accepted: August 10, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Deliberations of a designated working group to define the Anthropocene as an epoch in the Geologic Timescale have entered a recommendation phase toward its Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) with a dozen sites initially proposed. Each is centered on a ‘bomb spike’ of fallout from mid-20th century atomic explosion tests: however, this is a controversial criterion given the world’s abhorrence of nuclear war. A recently proposed alternative approach would recognize the Anthropocene as a blended geological and historical event beginning at different times over tens of thousands of years and still gathering pace due to humanity’s disruption of the Earth System. A forum for questions after site presentations at a recent meeting of the working group spurred this report. Enhancing the alternative approach by revisiting seldom-referenced aspects of Paul Crutzen’s 2002 vision for the Anthropocene and reflecting on a large body of related perspectives, the Anthropocene could be positioned as the name of a needed new renaissance movement in world history, a bold step that would also reinforce geoscience as a force for the greater good.