For the past three centuries, humans’ effects on the global environment have escalated. Most importantly, our emissions of carbon dioxide may cause global climate patterns to depart significantly from their natural course for many millennia to come.
It seems appropriate to assign the term “Anthropocene” to the current, in many ways human-dominated, geological epoch, supplementing the Holocene – the warm period of the past 10–12 millennia. The Anthropocene Period could be said to have started in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when analyses of air trapped in polar ice showed the beginning of growing global concentrations of CO2 and methane. This date also happens to coincide with James Watt’s design of the steam engine in 1784.