Abstract

Human activities are exerting increasing impacts on the environment on all scales, in many ways outcompeting natural processes. This includes the manufacturing of hazardous chemical compounds which are not produced by nature, such as for instance the chlorofluorocarbon gases which are responsible for the “ozone hole”. Because human activities have also grown to become significant geological forces, for instance through land use changes, deforestation and fossil fuel burning, it is justified to assign the term “anthropocene” to the current geological epoch. This epoch may be defined to have started about two centuries ago, coinciding with James Watt’s design of the steam engine in 1784.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul J. Crutzen
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institute for ChemistryMainz

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