The Anthropocene Era

From "The Climate of Man--III," Elizabeth Kolbert's article in this week's issue of The New Yorker (May 9):

"A few years ago, in an article in Nature, the Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen coined a term. No longer, he wrote, should we think of ourselves as living in the Holocene, as the period since the last glaciation is known. Instead, an epoch unlike any of those which preceded it had begun. This new age was defined by one creature--man--who had become so dominant that he was capable of altering the planet on a geological scale. Crutzen, a Nobel Prize winner, dubbed this age the Anthropocene. He proposed as its starting date the seventeen-eighties, the decade in which james Watt perfected his steam engine and, inadvertently. changed the history of the earth."