Special Issue "What if the ‘Anthropocene’ is Not Formalized as a New Geological Epoch?"

A special issue of Quaternary (ISSN 2571-550X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Valentí Rull
Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (ICTJA-CSIC), C/ Solé Sabarís s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: palaeoecology; long-term ecology; palaeoclimatology; climate change; latitudinal biodiversity gradients; diversification drivers; biodiversity conservation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the coming years, the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) will submit its proposal on the ‘Anthropocene’ as a new geological epoch to the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) for approval. If approved, the proposal will be sent to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) for ratification. If the proposal is approved and ratified, the ‘Anthropocene’ will be formalized and the Holocene Series/Epoch will be officially terminated. Currently, the ‘Anthropocene’ is a broadly used term and concept in a wide range of scientific and non-scientific situations and, for many, the official acceptance of this term is only a matter of time. However, the AWG proposal, in its present state, has been criticised from different angles, notably by some ICS and IUGS officers. Therefore, the possibility of rejection at these instances should be seriously considered. There is abundant literature on the ‘Anthropocene’ and the convenience or not of its formalization. Rather than insisting on the topic, the aim of this Special Issue is to offer a different perspective by asking a rarely addressed question: what would happen if the ‘Anthropocene’ is not formalized by the ICS/IUGS?

  • Should the proposal be reformulated or should the initiative be abandoned?
  • If reformulated, should the AWG insist on the Series/Epoch rank or they should downgrade the concept to a lower category (e.g. Stage)?
  • If abandoned, should we stop using the term and concept of the ‘Anthropocene’?
  • Given the popularity of the term and its common use in many scientific and non-scientific disciplines, would this be possible?
  • Can the ‘Anthropocene’ be considered a historical phase of the Earth’s history devoid of any stratigraphic meaning?
  • Should we choose a different term with no stratigraphic connotations, that is, avoiding the termination ‘-cene’ (also ‘-zoic’ or ‘-gene’)? Does formalization matter only for stratigraphers?
  • Is formalization a cumbersome process that is slowing progress towards better environmental policies?
  • Can we ignore stratigraphic formalization and keep using the term ‘Anthropocene’ with a variety of meanings?
  • What about fields such as archaeology, history, environmental activism, philosophy, politics, art, etc., where the term and concept is already firmly rooted?

These questions and many others will be considered in this Special Issue. Potential contributors are encouraged to contact the guest editors for different proposals within the topic. The Special Issue is open to any scholars interested on the matter, regardless of their field of research. All types of papers published by Quaternary will be considered.

Dr. Valentí Rull
Editor-in-Chief

 

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Quaternary is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • Holocene
  • human impact
  • humanized Earth System
  • chronostratigraphy
  • geochronology
  • International Chronostratigraphic Chart
  • geological time scale
  • chronostratigraphic units
  • series/epoch
  • formalization.

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
What If the ‘Anthropocene’ Is Not Formalized as a New Geological Series/Epoch?
Quaternary 2018, 1(3), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1030024 - 19 Oct 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
In the coming years, the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) will submit its proposal on the ‘Anthropocene’ to the Subcommission of Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS) and the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) for approval. If approved, the proposal will be sent to the Executive Committee [...] Read more.
In the coming years, the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) will submit its proposal on the ‘Anthropocene’ to the Subcommission of Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS) and the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) for approval. If approved, the proposal will be sent to the Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) for ratification. If the proposal is approved and ratified, then the ‘Anthropocene’ will be formalized. Currently, the ‘Anthropocene’ is a broadly used term and concept in a wide range of scientific and non-scientific situations, and, for many, the official acceptance of this term is only a matter of time. However, the AWG proposal, in its present state, seems to not fully meet the requirements for a new chronostratigraphic unit. This essay asks what could happen if the current ‘Anthropocene’ proposal is not formalized by the ICS/IUGS. The possible stratigraphic alternatives are evaluated on the basis of the more recent literature and the personal opinions of distinguished AWG, SQS, and ICS members. The eventual impact on environmental sciences and on non-scientific sectors, where the ‘Anthropocene’ seems already firmly rooted and de facto accepted as a new geological epoch, are also discussed. This essay is intended as the editorial introduction to a Quaternary special issue on the topic. Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle
The ‘Anthropocene Proposal’: A Possible Quandary and A Work-Around
Quaternary 2019, 2(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/quat2020019 - 16 May 2019
Abstract
The debates about naming the unfolding times of anthropogenic global change the ‘Anthropocene’ are ultimately debates about the ‘human condition’. The proposal to amend the geological time scale by adding an ‘Anthropocene’ epoch (that is, the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ in its strict sense) is [...] Read more.
The debates about naming the unfolding times of anthropogenic global change the ‘Anthropocene’ are ultimately debates about the ‘human condition’. The proposal to amend the geological time scale by adding an ‘Anthropocene’ epoch (that is, the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ in its strict sense) is both an intra-geoscience debate about scientific sense-making and a debate about the societal context of the geosciences. This essay juxtaposes these debates, starting from three postulates: first, that the scientific methods of geological chronostratigraphy are applied rigorously; second, that anthropogenic global change is happening; and third, that the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ may be rejected if it does not meet the conditions required for its approval based on the rigorous application of the scientific methods of geological chronostratigraphy. These postulates are analysed through the lenses of the Cape Town Statement on Geoethics and the normative statements of the ‘geoethical promise’. It is found that an ethical quandary would arise if the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ were to be rejected. Consequently, and given the societal contexts of the geosciences, it is explored whether distinguishing between the geological past (as demarcated according to current chronostratigraphic methodology) and contemporary geological–historical times (characterised somewhat differently) could offer a work-around to tackle the quandary. Full article
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