Geologists Make It Official: We’re Not in an ‘Anthropocene’ Epoch

The highest governing body in geology has upheld a contested vote by scientists against adding the Anthropocene, or human age, to the official timeline of Earth’s history.

The vote, which a committee of around two dozen scholars held in February, brought an end to nearly 15 years of debate about whether to declare that our species had transformed the natural world so thoroughly since the 1950s as to have sent the planet into a new epoch of geologic time.

Shortly after voting ended this month, however, the committee’s chair, Jan A. Zalasiewicz, and vice chair, Martin J. Head, called for the results to be annulled. They said the members had voted prematurely, before evaluating all the evidence.

Dr. Zalasiewicz and Dr. Head also asserted that many members shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the first place because they had exceeded their term limits.

After considering the matter, the committee’s parent body, the International Union of Geological Sciences, has decided the results will stand, the union’s executive committee said in a statement on Wednesday.

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