Some 540 million years after life began to bloom on Earth during the Cambrian period scientists say that we are entering a new geological chapter: the first created by Man.
The Anthropocene epoch marks a new phase of the planet’s history, where mankind is the dominant influence on climate and the environment.
Starting in the 1950s, it would be identifiable from the radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons tests, the appearance of fossilised plastics and a rise in carbon pollution from a global postwar economic boom.
A panel of experts chaired by Jan Zalasiewicz, of the University of Leicester, has spent a decade reviewing evidence on whether the Anthropocene is a geologically valid concept. Its 34 members took their first formal vote last week and decided that it had merit.