Let’s Name The New Man! Let The Anthropocene Replace That Meek Euphemism, The “Entirely New”, The “Holocene”. Because We Started To Manhandle The Planet 12,000 Years Ago. And we can prove it: 


Usually the Anthropocene, the age of man, is most roughly defined as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.It is tempting to consider the geologic marks left by radioactive nucleadies. However I would argue that human activity became overwhelming when it prevented the last glaciation. This happened at least 7, 000 years ago. Then cities were sustained by massive agriculture and herding using species modified, or even created, by humans. Lions, hunted to quasi-extinction, disappeared as the most massive species to be replaced by cattle. Cattle creates methane, and methane, CH4, is an enormously efficient GreenHouse Gas (GHG), maybe 25 more capable of capturing infrared radiation than CO2. Measured over a 20-year period, methane is 84 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.At the same time, wetlands were augmented for various cultures, including rice… And forests cut down (for cultivation) and burned (for energy).

The end result was a spectacular augmentation of the GreenHouse Gases during a period in which they should have gone down, for natural physical reasons. The fact GreenHouse Gases kept up when they should have gone down is the mark of Homo Sapiens, the mark of the Anthropocene. Before I explain why physical natural reasons would have GHG go down, let me show the GHG graph for CO2. This is the GHG CO2 CH4 concentration for the Vostok Core in Antarctica, over the last 425,000 years:      

The most striking feature of this graph, when considering the ANTHROPOCENE, is what happened in the upper right hand corner. As the next graph will show, the curves of temperature, CO2 and CH4 should have tumbled down, They did not: the MARK OF MAN!

During the ice age, carbon dioxide concentrations were much lower than during the present interglacial period. Methane concentration was also much lower during the ice age. Basically the reason is that everything freezes down (Methane mixed with water forms a sort of strange sort of ice, which seem to represent the largest hydrocarbon deposits)

The most striking feature of the Vostok ice core is that we can see four ice ages and interglacial periods that have occurred in the past, and that the curves for carbon dioxide, methane and temperature very much parallel each other in their variations. As we will see in the next picture, they generally follow the irradiance at 65 North… Until the last 10,000 years or so.
Ice ages seem to occur periodically every 100,000 years: that corresponds to changes in the “eccentricity”, the shape of the ellipse of Earth (more than a million years ago, the obliquity dominated, as Lilankovitch thought it should).

At the end of an ice age, both temperature and carbon dioxide rise rapidly (as they should, both thawing). This gives a nonlinear boost to the planetary warming. Moreover, there seem to be well-defined limits to the maximum and minimum concentrations of greenhouse gases. During warm periods like the present one, carbon dioxide is usually near a maximum concentration of 270 ppmv, and methane is near 0.7 ppmv (for a grand total of no more than 340 ppmv in CO2 equivalent). At the coldest times during ice ages, carbon dioxide drops to 190 ppmv and methane to 0.35 ppmv. However, right now we are above 500 ppmv in CO2 equivalent, counting all GHG gases (CO2, CH4, NOx, Fluorocarbons, etc.)…

Now why did I say that GHG CO2 CH4 should have gone down? Simply because GHG CO2 CH4 concentrations are entangled with Earth irradiance. It often happens in nonlinear science that the different dimensions of a problem are entangled, that’s what creates the nonlinearity [1].  

When the amount of radiation falling on 65 degree north latitudes fell (black line), around 12,000 years ago, so should have the non-humanly generated CO2 and CH4. But this time the GreenHouse Gases did not fall as 65N irradiance fell. Why? Because human beings generated them. This prevented the occurrence of much re-glaciation..

Earth has a peculiarity: continents are bunched in the northern hemisphere around an ocean, whereas the southern hemisphere is the opposite: a continent surrounded by an ocean. In practice this means that the north can support enormous ice sheets, kilometers deep, on an enormous surface area, over Europe and North America (but not East Asia, as it was too dry for snow accumulation… from the anticyclone over Europe!)  

Thus, the key is the INSOLATION IN JULY AT 65 DEGREE NORTH. If it is less than a given number, ice will form, and resist summer heat. If it is more than another, higher number, ice will melt in July, and thus disappear. This is called the irradiance at 65 North. It turns out that the orbit of the Earth and its axis of rotation are always changing, oscillating between various extremes. That, in turn, changes the irradiance at 65 degree north (although, overall, irradiance vary very little, the effect at 65 degree north is so massive that glaciers several kilometers thick can form… over 40 million square kilometers, four times the area of Canada or the USA). The basic idea was elaborated in the first half of the Nineteenth Century by some French mathematicians, and pushed a century later by the Serbian mathematician Milankovitch. Probably it should be called the Rotation Insolation Theory. 

The Earth’s orbit changes from being nearly circular to slightly elliptical (eccentricity). This cycle has a period of around 100,000 years. Right now Earth is closest to the Sun during the northern winter solstice (“Saturnials”). For example right now, winter solstice 2020, Earth is only 147 million kilometers from the sun. That has little effect (because it is already cold in winter in the north). When the closest point to the sun, on aphelion day 2020, July 4, it was 152 million kilometers. This is a 3% difference, and that’s huge: it means, taking the square of the difference, more than 6% in irradiance.

The angle of tilt of the Earth’s axis changes from 22.1° to 24.5° (obliquity). This cycle has a period of 41,000 years.

The direction of the tilt of the Earth rotation axis changes (precession) on a cycle of 26,000 years.

Modern computing with electronic computers confirmed the Insolation Rotation theory… sort of. It turns out some significant devils are out of the basic Rotation Insolation Theory. For example, continental drift (which got glaciations launched in the last three million years, from the closing of Panama and the restricting of various straits in Indonesia; in either case, equatorial water was prevented from warming the north)    

When the  result is that, during a glaciation, nearly 10% of Earth, nearly 40 million square kilometers, is glaciated… Thus maybe as much as 3% of the light falling on Earth is sent right back to space, increasing the cold some more (I made the computation by looking at my hands: the point is that in the northern regions the light from the sun is low on the horizon already, I took an average). 

So glaciations are brought, in great part, by cyclic changes in irradiance. But irradiance peaked around 10,000 years ago, while putting an end to the last glaciation. Then sun radiation at 65 degree North in July went down… But the GreenHouse Gases stayed up. Usually as radiation goes down, ice progresses, photosynthesis goes down, carbon is withdrawn from the atmosphere (plants freeze or get buried, and not replaced, etc.),  

In 2005, a team led by Professor William Ruddiman of the University of Virginia suggested that man-made global warming might be holding back the next big freeze. They argued that ancient agricultural practices, deforestation and biomass-burning may have boosted levels of carbon dioxide and methane, and thus cancelled out the cooling produced by the astronomical cycles.

In December 2008, an international team of climate experts presented an analysis of air trapped in Vostok ice cores, which revealed the composition of the atmosphere over hundreds of thousands of years. The results show that both carbon dioxide and methane refused to go down around 5,000 to 8,000 years ago. Instead they started to slowly increase. This is synchronous with the historical origins of large-scale agriculture in Asia and extensive deforestation in Europe. To this one should add the devastation of the megafauna in Eurasia and the Americas (it was less dramatic in Africa, and other places like South East Asia, which were less friendly to the naked ape). 

It is important that important things get important names: they label the important neural network they are the core of. The brain is not a blob, it is a hierarchy. Concept wear names, when they are important enough, they are the aristocrats of thought.

So I propose that the Anthropocene started around 12,000 years ago, with the beginning of the Sixth Extinction. In other words, I propose to change the name of the Holocene to the Anthropocene. Why? As I said, the devastation of the biosphere, combined with its “amelioration” through several types of bioengineering, from rice to maize, cattle, pigs, goats, cats, rats, potatoes. Plus the GreenHouse Gases. Actually “Holocene” was a French neologism meaning “entirely new”. It’s another word for the same concept: “Holocene” is an euphemism for ANTHROPOCENE, THE NEW MAN.

Patrice Ayme


[1] It’s not just in Quantum Physics that notions are entangled. An example is lift around a wing. There several quantities, at the very least, are entangled, thanks to the geometry of the wing: pressures and speeds above and below… We will see all this in an essay on modern flying sailing…

4 Responses to “Entirely New ANTHROPOCENE 12,000 YEARS OLD”

  1. De Brunet d'Ambiallet Says:

    I will spare you the suggestion that you don’t like the holocene bcs it’s French, originellement. Makes sense to me to switch from holocene to anthropocene. For the reasons you evoked. Good job!


  2. pshakkottai Says:

    Here are 2 studies based on astronomy and hydrology of seeing what happened in the distant past in India.

    40,000 + years of Unbroken Hindu civilization by Nilesh Oak. Indic Studies—Toronto. You tube.

    17,000 + years of Unbroken Indian civilization by Nilesh Oak. You tube


  3. John Holzmann Says:

    Patrice Ayme meditates on the potential significance of the analysis of data concerning the gases trapped in the Vostok Ice Core from Antarctica. Do these gases show the imprint of human activity over the last 7,000 to 12,000 years? She believes they do.

    And she then attempts to correlate them with other calculated effects of Earth’s cyclical eccentricity of orbit around the Sun, its obliquity (tilt) with respect to the Sun, precession (shift in direction of the Earth’s rotational axis vis-a-vis the Sun), etc. . . . and the effects of all these cycles upon Earth’s insolation (how much solar energy has hit the Earth) over the last many hundreds of thousands of years.

    Combine all of these factors and attempt to correlate how they interact with the so-called Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s) . . . and you’ve got a good thought-provoking article . . . and, Patrice suggests, a better name for what geologists have, heretofore called the Holocene Epoch! “We should call it the Anthropocene Epoch,” says Patrice.

    I will let you decide what you think. But I post the link below with thanks to Patrice for her generosity in sharing her thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks John! The overall insolation (“irradiance”) vary extremely little. But the variation at 65 degree North is dramatic, and enable ice shields to grow, causing a spectacular growth of the albedo, as up to 10% of the Earth gets covered with ice.

      The man-made effect is clear from the fact GHG gases did not come down while the 65 degree North insolation went down by ten percent (10%)… that’s within 2.5% of the maximum decrease during the last glacial maximum! So clearly the GH should have come down. They did not. So clearly, human influence stated to dominate the planet more than 5,000 years ago, from deforestation, desiccation, swamp creation.

      Hence my naming of the period the “ANTHROPOCENE”… Instead of its present “holocene” domination (which is just a euphemism)


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