The Anthropocene Era has dawned
Scientists are about to announce the end of a geological epoch, and the beginning of another.
Mankind has had such a huge effect on the planet and its geological story, that the Holocene era, covering the 11,500 years since the last ice age, should be declared at an end.
The new era will be called the Anthropocene, meaning "the age of man."
The changes are basic and beyond counting. Radioactive materials from nuclear testing are part of the planet, as as particles of plastic and glass. The atmosphere has been changed by carbon dioxide produced by man, as has the sea.
Scientists postulate that scholars of the distant future will find a distinct boundary, separating the two geological eras. The sudden disappearance of many fossils, as so many species have been forced into extinction by humans, could be their first clue.
The idea that humanity's abuse of the planet has precipitated this new geological era will be the centrepiece of the Planet Under Pressure conference, which will be held in London this week.