The Anthropocene: A New Epoch of Geological Time?

The Anthropocene: A New Epoch of Geological Time?

Wednesday May11th 2011

The concept of the Anthropocene represents one of the most democratic and bottom-up organizing principles that Earth science has ever seen. The term is already embedded in the language of scientists, socio-economists, politicians, and the media. If we are to understand the significance and scale of contemporary global change, in all its forms, we need to know it, to see it, against the backcloth of the Earth’s full story. And we need to see it from as many perspectives, from as many realms, as possible.

This conference will bring together the range of disciplines and realms to discuss, to debate the evidence for the Anthropocene.

A meeting of the minds, of the disciplines, of the realms. A meeting for everyone.

Has humanity’s impact on the Earth been so significant that it defines a new geological epoch? In the blink of a geological eye, through our need for energy, food, water, minerals, for space in which to live and play, we have wrought changes to Earth’s environment and life that are as significant as any known in the geological record.

In 2000, Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen first characterised this ‘perfect storm’ of human impacts on the planet, its ecosystems and the geological record as constituting a new ‘Anthropocene’ geological epoch, and the concept has since gained a firm foothold, both in the geological community and more widely. Its significance is not simply a matter of geological taxonomy – it constitutes a new organising principle for natural and social scientists from a wide range of disciplines studying our interactions with life and the planet, for policy makers addressing resource use and environmental challenges, and for a broader public engaging with these debates through traditional and new media.

This important internation and interdisciplinary conference includes:

  • An evening lecture by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen
  • Presentations by international keynote speakers
  • Panel discussions

Conference themes:

  • Life and Diversity
  • Humans and Geology
  • Socio-Economic Issues


  • Michael Ellis (British Geological Survey)
  • Mark Williams (British Geological Survey & University of Leicester)
  • Jan Zalasiewicz (University of Leicester, Chair of IGBP Science Committee)
  • Alan Haywood (University of Leeds)

Speakers and Panellists

  • Nobel Laureate Professor Paul Crutzen (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany)
  • Will Steffen (Climate Change Institute, Australia National University)
  • Dennis Dimick (National Geographic Magazine)
  • Davor Vidas (Fridtjof Nansens Institut, Norway)
  • Andrew Revkin (New York Times)
  • James Syvitski (University of Colorado)
  • Dorothy Merritts (Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
  • Erle Ellis (University of Maryland)
  • Toby Tyrrell (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)


The Geological Society W1J 0BG
Burlington House
United Kingdom

Company: The Geological Society

Contact: Leila Taleb

Phone: 020 7432 0981

Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)




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