A lake in Canada serves as the best proof that humans have caused lasting and significant environmental changes to the planet since the mid-20th century — so much so that a group of scientists says a new formal chapter, called the Anthropocene, should be added to the planet’s official history.
Earth may be starting a new geological chapter. What is the Anthropocene?
If the findings are endorsed by the wider geological community, Earth will have a new interval added to its 4.6 billion-year timeline. It will also bolster awareness of how human-driven pollution — including planet-warming gases from burning fossil fuels — has transformed the planet in fundamental and dangerous ways.
Here’s what to know about the Anthropocene epoch, and why it matters.