As scientists get used to the idea that Earth is in a new geological age, that the Holocene — the last geological age — has been replaced by Anthropocene, they’re figuring out how it got to be that way.
Two years ago, ecologists Erle Ellis and Navin Ramankutty at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, released a map of the world’s biological areas, traditionally known as biomes. Similar maps were found on science classroom walls across the land, but theirs was different in one very fundamental way: They updated the definition of biome to reflect how human beings used the land.
Ellis and Ramankutty said this was much more relevant to the 21st century, with more than six billion people using more of Earth’s water, energy and matter than any other species, than classical biomes that didn’t account for humanity’s influence. They called their newly-defined areas “anthromes,” short for anthropological biomes. It was a map for the anthropocene.