The Anthropocene: a conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere

Citation:
Odada E, Williams M, Zalasiewicz JA, Waters CN, Edgeworth M, Bennett CE, Barnosky AD, et al. "The Anthropocene: a conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere.". 2015.

Abstract:

Biospheric relationships between production and consumption of biomass have been
resilient to changes in the Earth system over billions of years. This relationship has increased in its com-
plexity, from localized ecosystems predicated on anaerobic microbial production and consumption
to a global biosphere founded on primary production from oxygenic photoautotrophs, through the
evolution of Eukarya, metazoans, and the complexly networked ecosystems of microbes, animals, fungi,
and plants that characterize the Phanerozoic Eon (the last∼541 million years of Earth history). At present,
one species,
Homo sapiens, is refashioning this relationship between consumption and production in the
biosphere with unknown consequences. This has left a distinctive stratigraphy of the production and
consumption of biomass, of natural resources, and of produced goods. This can be traced through stone
tool technologies and geochemical signals, later unfolding into a diachronous signal of technofossils and
human bioturbation across the planet, leading to stratigraphically almost isochronous signals developing
by the mid-20th century. These latter signals may provide an invaluable resource for informing and
constraining a formal Anthropocene chronostratigraphy, but are perhaps yet more important as tracers
of a biosphere state that is characterized by a geologically unprecedented pattern of global energy flow
that is now pervasively influenced and mediated by humans, and which is necessary for maintaining the
complexity of modern human societies.

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