An epoch is a division of time characterized by a prevalent set of conditions on Earth. So far during the Cenozoic Era, the Earth has experienced seven epochs: Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene. Generally, each epoch has lasted at least 3 million years. But only 11,500 years into the Holocene epoch, some scientists believe that we have already entered a new epoch. They believe the human impact on the Earth has been so significant that it has triggered the start of a new geological epoch, dubbed the Anthropocene, meaning "new man."
According to the scientists who proposed the new epoch at the International Geological Congress in Cape Town in 2016, human activities such as pollution, habitat destruction, and nuclear experimentation have ushered in a new epoch much before the norm. It should be noted, however, that not all scientists agree on this premise, and the term "Anthropocene" remains unofficial. In fact, Earth's entire geological chronology remain a highly controversial topic, as some scientists even argue that we are simply experiencing a warm period of the Ice Age.
More about Earth's epochs:
- There are different ways to categorize the chronological divisions in Earth's history: epochs, periods, eras, and eons.
- Epochs are defined by the evidence of changes in Earth's life forms, as evidenced by rock layers.
- Earth's continents are believed to have taken their current position at the end of the Pliocene epoch.