Most scholarly discussions about the onset of the Anthropocene have focused on
very recent changes in the earth’s atmosphere and markers such as the rise in atmospheric carbon levels associated with the industrial revolution or radionucleotides related to nuclear testing (e.g., Crutzen, 2002, Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000, Zalasiewicz JNK inhibitor cost et al., 2010, Zalasiewicz et al., 2011a and Zalasiewicz et al., 2011b). Even Ruddiman, 2003 and Ruddiman, 2013, who argues for an early inception of the Anthropocene, relies primarily on rising atmospheric carbon levels to define it. Such changes are most readily identified in long and continuous records of climatic and atmospheric change preserved in cores taken from glacial ice HSP phosphorylation sheets in Greenland and other polar regions. If current global warming trends continue such ice records could disappear, however, a possibility that led Certini and Scalenghe (2011) to argue that
stratigraphic records preserved in soils are more permanent and appropriate markers for defining the Anthropocene. Geologically, roughly synchronous and worldwide changes in soils—and the detailed floral, faunal, climatic, and geochemical signals they contain—could provide an ideal global standard stratotype-section and point (GSSP) or ‘golden spike’ used to document a widespread human domination of the earth. Some scholars have argued that humans have long had local or regional effects on earth’s ecosystems, but that such effects did not take on global proportions until the past century or so (e.g., Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000, Ellis, 2011, Steffen et al., 2007, Steffen et al., 2011, Zalasiewicz et al., 2011a and Zalasiewicz et al., 2011b). Others, including many contributors to this volume, would push back the inception of the
Anthropocene to between 500 and 11,000 years ago (i.e., Braje and Erlandson, 2013a, Braje and Erlandson, 2013b, Certini and Scalenghe, 2011, Ruddiman, 2003, Ruddiman, 2013 and Smith and Zeder, Etoposide nmr 2013). Stressing that human action should be central to any definition of the Holocene, Erlandson and Braje (2013) summarized ten archeological data sets that could be viewed individually or collectively as defining an Anthropocene that began well before the industrial revolution or nuclear testing. By the end of the Pleistocene (∼11,500 cal BP), for instance, humans had colonized all but the most remote reaches of earth and were engaged in intensive hunting, fishing, and foraging, widespread genetic manipulation (domestication) of plants and animals, vegetation burning, and other landscape modifications.