Have humans had such a dramatic impact on the globe that we've created a new geological era? That's what some scientists think. They've proposed that the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century marked the end of the Holocene (a period that began with the last ice age 11,700 years ago) and the beginning of the Anthropocene, the "Age of Man." Not everyone agrees. In fact, some say the Anthropocene began 11,500 years ago and completely overlaps with the Holocene. And still others say the Anthropocene has yet to begin.
Who's right? What are the implications for science and the planet? And what might official geological organizations decide when they finally weigh in on the issue in 2016? Join us on Thursday, 25 April, at 3 p.m. EDT on this page for a live Google Hangout when we address these questions. Be sure to leave your questions for our guests in the comment box below.
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Bruce D. Smith
Bruce D. Smith has been a Curator of North American Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology, NMNH, since 1978. His primary geographical area of interest is eastern North America, and his general research interests have centered on human-environmental interaction.
Phil Gibbard is Professor of Quaternary Palaeoenvironments in the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and a Dosent in the University of Helsinki, Finland. His research is focused on Quaternary and late Tertiary terrestrial and shallow marine sedimentation, stratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental evolution throughout Europe.
Michael Balter has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the last 20 of them based mostly in Paris, France. He was Paris bureau chief for Science from 1991 to 2002, and continues to write regularly for the journal's news pages as a Contributing Correspondent.