January 23, 2019

The stabilization of atmospheric CO2 concentration during the 1940s and 1950s is a notable feature in the ice core record. The new high density measurements confirm this result and show that CO2 concentrations stabilized at 310–312 ppm from ~1940–1955. The CH4 and N2O growth rates also decreased during this period, although the N2O variation is comparable to the measurement uncertainty. Smoothing due to enclosure of air in the ice (about 10 years at DE08) removes high frequency variations from the record, so the true atmospheric variation may have been larger than represented in the ice core air record. Even a decrease in the atmospheric CO2 concentration during the mid-1940s is consistent with the Law Dome record and the air enclosure smoothing, suggesting a large additional sink of ~3.0 PgC yr-1 [Trudinger et al., 2002a]. The d13CO2 record during this time suggests that this additional sink was mostly oceanic and not caused by lower fossil emissions or the terrestrial biosphere [Etheridge et al., 1996; Trudinger et al., 2002a]. The processes that could cause this response are still unknown.

[11] The CO2 stabilization occurred during a shift from persistent El Niño to La Niña conditions [Allan and D’Arrigo, 1999]. This coincided with a warm-cool phase change of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation [Mantua et al., 1997], cooling temperatures [Moberg et al., 2005] and progressively weakening North Atlantic thermohaline circulation [Latif et al., 2004]. The combined effect of these factors on the trace gas budgets is not presently well understood. They may be significant for the atmospheric CO2 concentration if fluxes in areas of carbon uptake, such as the North Pacific Ocean, are enhanced, or if efflux from the tropics is suppressed.

MacFarling-Meure, C., D. Etheridge, C. Trudinger, P. Steele, R. Langenfelds, T. van Ommen, A. Smith, and J. Elkins (2006), Law Dome CO2, CH4 and N2O ice core records extended to 2000 years BPGeophys. Res. Lett., 33, L14810, doi:10.1029/2006GL026152.



USCPB Stat’s

January 9, 2019


 CPB Apprehensions
 Family Units % Increase since 2013  Unaccompanied Children % Increase since 2010
2010                                           18,622
2011                                           16,067 -14%
2012                                           24,481 31%
2013                                15,056                                           38,833 109%
2014                                68,684 403%                                           68,631 269%
2015                                40,053 166%                                           40,035 115%
2016                                77,857 417%                                           59,757 221%
2017                                75,802 403%                                           41,435 123%


A Geological Perspective on the “Irreversible Collapse” of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

January 8, 2019

Antarctic_Melt-0acf6[1]Guest post by David Middleton

A Geological Perspective on the “Irreversible Collapse” of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

It’s “old” news, as this publication from 1999 shows us. Read the rest of this entry »

That 70’s Climate Show

November 20, 2018

I earned my degree in geology (Earth Science) in frigid Connecticut during That 70’s Climate Science Show.  This was very real…


That 70s

Griff is correct that a 1977 TIME magazine cover did not predict “another ice age.”  The prediction (sort of a prediction) was from a 1974 TIME magazine article… Read the rest of this entry »

Renewable Smack Down

November 1, 2018

Can you see a pattern here?

Renewables are gnats on an elephant’s @$$… Solar is the tiniest gnat.

There has never been an energy transition.


Global proved petroleum reserves continue to rise with production.


Proved reserves continue to rise because probable & possible reserves and resources are continuously converted to proved reserves by production and reservoir management.

The world has only consumed about 17% of the total recoverable petroleum.

Billion bbl Recoverable Resources
Cumulative Production Proved Reserves Conven. Unconven.
Asia/Pacific                                          100                              50                         95                             90
E. Europe/Eurasia                                          190                            160                      300                          580
OECD Europe                                            80                              10                         90                             25
Middle East                                          320                            800                      310                             50
Africa                                          100                            120                      190                             50
Latin America                                          100                            320                      190                          320
North America                                          310                            220                      260                       1,700
World Total                                      1,200                        1,680                   1,435                       2,815
Years at 28.1 Bbbl/yr                              60                         51                          100
NA Resources  NA yrs
                 1,960         69.75
Total Bbbl % Prod Un-prod Bbbl %Un-prod
                 7,130 17%                 5,930 83%

Natural Gas

Global proved natural gas reserves continue to rise with production.

Proved reserves are only a fraction of the natural gas that will likely be produced from existing fields.

The US, alone, has 72 years worth of natural gas in existing fields.  Another 70+ years in technically recoverable resources and over 1,000 years in resources that are currently technically unrecoverable…


Coal reserves are sufficient for hundreds of years…

Coal resources are a bit more difficult to assess.  However, they are fracking YUGE. The USGS has not conducted a coal resource assessment for these United States since 1974.

How much coal is in the United States?

The amount of coal that exists in the United States is difficult to estimate because it is buried underground. The most comprehensive national assessment of U.S. coal resources was published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1975, which indicated that as of January 1, 1974, coal resources in the United States totaled 4 trillion short tons. Although more recent regional assessments of U.S. coal resources have been conducted by the USGS, a new national-level assessment of U.S. coal resources has not been conducted.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes three measures of how much coal is left in the United States, which are based on various degrees of geologic certainty and on the economic feasibility of mining the coal.

EIA’s estimates for the amount of coal reserves as of January 1, 2017, by type of reserve

  • Demonstrated Reserve Base (DRB) is the sum of coal in both measured and indicated resource categories of reliability. The DRB represents 100% of the in-place coal that could be mined commercially at a given time. EIA estimates the DRB at about 476 billion short tons, of which about 69% is underground mineable coal.
  • Estimated recoverable reserves include only the coal that can be mined with today’s mining technology after considering accessibility constraints and recovery factors. EIA estimates U.S. recoverable coal reserves at about 254 billion short tons, of which about 58% is underground mineable coal.
  • Recoverable reserves at producing mines are the amount of recoverable reserves that coal mining companies report to EIA for their U.S. coal mines that produced more than 25,000 short tons of coal in a year. EIA estimates these reserves at about 17 billion short tons of recoverable reserves, of which 65% is surface mineable coal.

Based on U.S. coal production in 2016 of about 0.73 billion short tons, the recoverable coal reserves would last about 348 years, and recoverable reserves at producing mines would last about 23 years. The actual number of years that those reserves will last depends on changes in production and reserves estimates.



This should demonstrate the scale of how much coal there is just in these regionally United States…

The most recent resource estimate is 10 times the demonstrated reserve base, which is roughly 10 times the recoverable reserves at producing mines… And… Despite generating nearly 30% of our electricity from coal, the producing mines have no difficulty supplying more than enough coal.

The world has 1,000’s of years of technically recoverable coal.

Nuclear Fission Fuel

The world has 10’s of thousands of years of uranium resources…

According to the NEA, identified uranium resources total 5.5 million metric tons, and an additional 10.5 million metric tons remain undiscovered—a roughly 230-year supply at today’s consumption rate in total. Further exploration and improvements in extraction technology are likely to at least double this estimate over time.

Using more enrichment work could reduce the uranium needs of LWRs by as much as 30 percent per metric ton of LEU. And separating plutonium and uranium from spent LEU and using them to make fresh fuel could reduce requirements by another 30 percent. Taking both steps would cut the uranium requirements of an LWR in half.

Two technologies could greatly extend the uranium supply itself. Neither is economical now, but both could be in the future if the price of uranium increases substantially. First, the extraction of uranium from seawater would make available 4.5 billion metric tons of uranium—a 60,000-year supply at present rates. Second, fuel-recycling fast-breeder reactors, which generate more fuel than they consume, would use less than 1 percent of the uranium needed for current LWRs. Breeder reactors could match today’s nuclear output for 30,000 years using only the NEA-estimated supplies.

Scientific American

Nuclear Fusion Fuel

If nuclear fusion is ever harnessed, the fuel supply is the closest thing to an infinite energy source.

The Tiniest Gnat’s Prospects

Until such time that solar power plants are deployed above the Earth’s atmosphere, solar power has this much of a chance to replace fossil fuels and nuclear power:


Cretaceous Hydrocarbon Kitchen

October 30, 2018

Marine black shales, deposited under anoxic conditions are loaded with the stuff that oil is made of…

Total organic carbon (TOC) averaged 10% by weight.

The Cretaceous, in particular, was a hydrocarbon “kitchen.” Marine conditions couldn’t have been more favorable for the deposition of source rocks even if they had been designed for such a purpose…

“DSDP sites at which Cretaceous sediments rich in organic matter were encountered. From Dean and Arthur, 1986.”

Cretaceous Proto-Atlantic

The Lower Tertiary Eocene was also a hydrocarbon kitchen (up to 21% TOC).

There is no shortage of organic matter in the sedimentary basins of the Earth’s crust.

Humans and Sea Level

October 11, 2018

The human race adjusted to the Holocene Transgression without the benefit of much technology…

Civilization adjusted to this…

Industrial society adjusted to this…

Despite the fact that sea level isn’t behaving any differently now than it did in the early 20th Century…

People of the high technology 21st Century are panicked because of this…

Because fraudulent RCP8.5 models predict a physically impossible rise in sea level over this century…

And they’re blaming it all on the reason we have a relatively prosperous world…

The maddening thing is that humans and human civilization coped with far more severe climate changes before anyone figured out how to burn coal, petroleum and natural gas.


Another Dis-alarming Analysis of Arctic Sea Ice

September 26, 2018

Guest post by David Middleton

Anthony recently posted an excellent Arctic sea ice analysis by Ron Clutz.  In a similar vein, I decided to look at Arctic sea ice from a couple of other dis-alarming perspectives.

We keep hearing about the Arctic being ice-free anytime from next month up until a continuously rolling forward decade or so.  One question that has to be answered is:

What does ice-free mean?

When does ice-free mean ice-free?

First, we need to clarify what exactly an “ice-free” Arctic summer is.

By “ice-free”, scientists usually mean a sea ice extent of less than one million square kilometres, rather than zero sea ice cover.

–Dr Alexandra Jahn, Assistant Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Fellow at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. Carbon Brief, August 25, 2016.

Why use extent rather than area?

What is the difference between sea ice area and extent?

Area and extent are different measures and give scientists slightly different information. Some organizations, including Cryosphere Today, report ice area; NSIDC primarily reports ice extent. Extent is always a larger number than area, and there are pros and cons associated with each method.

A simplified way to think of extent versus area is to imagine a slice of swiss cheese. Extent would be a measure of the edges of the slice of cheese and all of the space inside it. Area would be the measure of where there is cheese only, not including the holes. That is why if you compare extent and area in the same time period, extent is always bigger. A more precise explanation of extent versus area gets more complicated.

Extent defines a region as “ice-covered” or “not ice-covered.” For each satellite data cell, the cell is said to either have ice or to have no ice, based on a threshold. The most common threshold (and the one NSIDC uses) is 15 percent, meaning that if the data cell has greater than 15 percent ice concentration, the cell is considered ice covered; less than that and it is said to be ice free. Example: Let’s say you have three 25 kilometer (km) x 25 km (16 miles x 16 miles) grid cells covered by 16% ice, 2% ice, and 90% ice. Two of the three cells would be considered “ice covered,” or 100% ice. Multiply the grid cell area by 100% sea ice and you would get a total extent of 1,250 square km (482 square miles).

Area takes the percentages of sea ice within data cells and adds them up to report how much of the Arctic is covered by ice; area typically uses a threshold of 15%. So in the same example, with three 25 km x 25 km (16 miles x 16 miles) grid cells of 16% ice, 2% ice, and 90% ice, multiply the grid cell areas that are over the 15% threshold by the percent of sea ice in those grid cells, and add it up. You would have a total area of 662 square km (255.8 square miles).

Scientists at NSIDC report extent because they are cautious about summertime values of ice concentration and area taken from satellite sensors. To the sensor, surface melt appears to be open water rather than water on top of sea ice. So, while reliable for measuring area most of the year, the microwave sensor is prone to underestimating the actual ice concentration and area when the surface is melting. To account for that potential inaccuracy, NSIDC scientists rely primarily on extent when analyzing melt-season conditions and reporting them to the public. That said, analyzing ice area is still quite valuable. Given the right circumstances, background knowledge, and scientific information on current conditions, it can provide an excellent sense of how much ice there really is “on the ground.”

NSIDC, June 2008

Arctic sea ice as a percentage of the area of the Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean has a surface area of approximately 14,056,000 km2.  An ice-free Arctic would be less than 1,000,000 km2  of sea ice extent during summet.  This would equate to less than 7% of the Arctic Ocean’s surface area.

During the era of satellite measurements of Arctic sea ice, the minimum ice extent has always occurred in September and the maximum extent has almost always occurred in March, occasionally in February.

March (1979-2008 Avg) Min Max
110% 102% 116%
Sept (1979-2008 Avg) Min Max
47% 25% 55%


Try to process logically process this:

The 1970’s Arctic sea ice extent range of 55-116% of the area of the Arctic Ocean gave us this:

That 70s

Whereas, the 2017-2018 Arctic sea ice range of 35-102% of the area of the Arctic Ocean gave us this:

The stupid literally could not burn any brighter.

Here’s the graph without funny magazine covers…


And here’s my spreadsheet:


Arctic sea ice in the context of the Holocene

The Arctic was probably ice-free during summer for most of the Holocene up until about 1,000 years ago.  McKay et al., 2008 demonstrated that the modern Arctic sea ice cover is anomalously high and the Arctic summer sea surface temperature is anomalously low relative to the rest of the Holocene.


“Modern sea-ice cover in the study area, expressed here as the number of months/year with >50% coverage, averages 10.6 ±1.2 months/year… Present day SST and SSS in August are 1.1 ± 2.4 8C and 28.5 ±1.3, respectively… In the Holocene record of core HLY0501-05, sea-ice cover has ranged between 5.5 and 9 months/year, summer SSS has varied between 22 and 30, and summer SST has ranged from 3 to 7.5 8C (Fig. 7). (McKay et al., 2008)

Over most of the Holocene, >50% sea ice coverage occurred from 5.5 to 9 months each year.  During the “Anthropocene”, >50% sea ice coverage has ranged from 9 to 12 months each year.


Yes… I know there are only 12 months in a year.  




Fetterer, F., K. Knowles, W. Meier, M. Savoie, and A. K. Windnagel. 2017, updated daily. Sea Ice Index, Version 3. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NSIDC: National Snow and Ice Data Center. doi: [Accessed September 26, 2018].


McKay, J.L., A. de Vernal, C. Hillaire-Marcel, C. Not, L. Polyak, and D. Darby. 2008. Holocene fluctuations in Arctic sea-ice cover: dinocyst-based reconstructions for the eastern Chukchi Sea. Can. J. Earth Sci. 45: 1377–1397

A Geological Feud Over the Meghalayan? Or Just Rubbish Published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science of America?

September 24, 2018

Guest commentary by David Middleton


Geologists Are Feuding About the Collapse of Civilization

The year’s most acrimonious scientific fight is a mega-drama over a mega-drought.

SEP 20, 2018

This summer, the decree went out: We are living in a new geological chapter in the planet’s 4.5-billion-year history.

For a certain corner of the world, this was big news. You have probably heard of the Jurassic period (when dinosaurs ruled the Earth) or the Cambrian explosion (when complex animal life arose). Now we had a new name for our own neighborhood in time: We modern humans—you, me, and Jesus of Nazareth—were all born in the Meghalayan ageAccording to the global governing body of geologists, this new era began 4,200 years ago, when a global mega-drought sent ancient societies around the world into starvation and collapse.

How interesting!, you may think. I love science! And perhaps in an earlier era, that’s all you would have had to think. The dawn of the Meghalayan would have earned some wide-eyed headlines, made life slightly easier for a few researchers, and promptly been relegated to a second-round Jeopardy!question.

Instead, the Meghalayan kicked off one of the cattiest, most intransigent fights among earth scientists that I can remember…


The Atlantic

The Meghalayan kicked off one of the cattiest, most intransigent fights among earth scientists that I can remember…

Robinson Meyer is a twenty-something staff writer for The Atlantic with a 2013 B.A. in music.  The “fight among earth scientists” about the Meghalayan Epoch is probably the only “fight among earth scientists” that he has ever heard of… His grandparents probably weren’t even born when the geosynclines vs plate tectonics fight began… And that fight lasted nearly 50 years.

Furthermore, he doesn’t even seem to understand what earth scientists are.

This week, the fight spilled into the pages ofone of the country’s most prestigious journals, as a critic raised a new concern with the embattled age. A short article published Thursday in Science contends that the Meghalayan is premised on faulty archaeology. There is scant evidence, it says, that the worldwide mega-drought around 2200 b.c., which started the Meghalayan, brought ancient society to its knees.

“There was no sudden, universal civilizational collapse,” writes Guy Middleton, a visiting archaeologist at Newcastle University, in the piece. “Overall, the archaeological and historical evidence suggests that 2200 b.c.was not a threshold date.”

Middleton’s point is larger than just the Meghalayan: He is siding with a group of scholars, mostly at European universities, that argues that climate change has almost never led to war or total ruin in the past. He writes as much in his piece: “Climate change never inevitably results in societal collapse, though it can pose serious challenges, as it does today.”

Guy Middleton is not a relative of mine, as far as I know… Nor is he an earth scientist.  Dr. Middleton is a Visting Fellow, School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University, with no earth science background at all.

Sidebar. Earth Scientists or earth scientists?  I normally capitalize the ‘e’ in Earth.  Earth science is the study of the Earth.  When referring to academic departments and degrees, I usually write “Earth Science,” because my B.S. was from the Earth Science Department. While the study of earth (as in dirt) is certainly part of Earth science… To me “earth science” would be soil science.  Since the article uses “earth scientists,” I am using that form in this post.

The “architects” of the Meghalayan, naturally, disagree with Dr. Middleton:

“This is a totally misleading piece of writing, which displays a lamentable grasp of the facts,” said Mike Walker, a professor at the University of Wales and the leader of the team that proposed the Meghalayan.

“I do not see a single accurate claim,” agreed Harvey Weiss, a professor of archaeology at Yale who, also helped write the Meghalayan proposal.

In a series of emails, Weiss lambasted his critic’s credentials. “Middleton, a pop-archeology writer, failed archaeology Ph.D., and English-as-a-second-language instructor in Japan, now claims archeo-expertise in matters about which he knows nothing, and gets great audience in Science—of all journals!” he wrote.

“For me, the most intriguing question is, ‘Why does Science publish this rubbish?’” he said in another message, sent several hours later under the subject line “and Weiss added … ”

  • Dr. Michael Walker is an Emeritus Professor of Quaternary Science at the University of Wales.  He is an actual earth scientist.  He’s probably one of the foremost experts in the world as it pertains to Quaternary stratigraphy.
  • Dr. Harvey Weiss is a Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Anthropology and Forestry & Environmental Studies (that’s a mouthful) at Yale University.  While he is primarily an archaeologist, his specialty is human adaptation to climate change during the Holocene.

I share Dr. Weiss’ sentiments: “Why does Science publish this rubbish?”  Dr. Middleton lists this as one of his references in the Science article:

The International Commission on Stratigraphy, “Collapse of civilizations worldwide defines youngest unit of the Geologic Time Scale”;

This doesn’t appear to exist on the ICS website.  The title, “Collapse of Civilizations Worldwide Defines Youngest Unit of the Geologic Time Scale,” appears to be from a  Long Beach State University press release.   A press release from Durham University also has a similar title: Collapse of civilizations worldwide defines youngest unit of the Geologic Time Scale.

Further furthermore, why does The Atlantic publish rubbish about the rubbish published in Science?  A twenty-something “journalist” with a degree in music, characterizing a one-sided argument involving one earth scientists and two archaeologists as “one of the cattiest, most intransigent fights among earth scientists that [he] can remember,” is as rubbish as it gets… Unless it gets rubbish-ier…  Which it did.  The music major spent most of the rest of the article listing Middleton’s (the other Middleton) archaeological arguments against the Meghalayan epoch.  However, to his credit, he closed the article with this:

Walker, the professor who led the Meghalayan team, told me that “the archaeological record has no relevance whatsoever” in helping to set the new age. The mega-drought that set in 4,200 years ago is the important boundary in time, he said, adding: “I cannot understand why Science, which is supposed to be a flagship journal for global science, would publish such a poorly researched article as this.”

The formal announcement from the ICS never even mentions the archaeological record or collapsing civilizations.

The archaeological record, though coincident with the stratigraphic record, “has no relevance whatsoever” in defining the boundaries of the Meghalayan Epoch.   This is from Walker’s 2012 discussion paper on subdividing the Holocene:

The Middle–Late Holocene Boundary

We propose that the Middle–Late Holocene Boundary should be placed at 4.2 ka BP as defined by a mid/low-latitude aridification event (hereafter, the 4.2 event). This was a widespread climatic phenomenon that is reflected in proxy records from North America, through the Middle East to China; and from Africa, parts of South America, and Antarctica (Mayewski et al., 2004; Staubwasser & Weiss, 2006).

The forcing mechanisms behind the 4.2 event are less obvious than is the case with that at 8.2 ka BP, however. There is, for example, no evidence for massive freshwater releases into the North Atlantic or for significant northern hemisphere ice growth; likewise, there are no systematic concentrations of volcanic aerosols or increases in atmospheric CO2. Mayewski et al. (2004) suggest that southward migration of the InterTropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) might account for the low-latitude aridity (which is the hallmark of the event), and would be consistent with the increase in strength of the westerlies over the North Atlantic, increased precipitation, and consequent glacier advance in western North America (see below). The onset of aridification also coincides with a 1–2 8C cooling of North Atlantic surface waters (Bond et al., 1997), while in the Pacific, tropical ‘deep’ waters may also have cooled sufficiently to allow a switch-on of the modern El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) regime (Sun, 2000), which became more pronounced in the mid-latitude regions after c. 4.0 ka BP (Barron & Anderson, 2010). More active El Niño events inhibit and weaken the Asian monsoon, and the interval from around 4.0 ka BP onwards registers in many Pacific and Asian proxy records as one of weak or failed Asian monsoons with resulting widespread drought conditions (Fisher et al., 2008, and references therein). Irrespective of cause, however, the fact that the 4.2 event is manifest in a range of geomorphological, stratigraphical and archaeological records from many parts of the world (Weiss, 2012; Fig. 4) means that it constitutes an appropriate temporal marker for the Middle–Late Holocene.


The Anthropocene

It has been suggested that the effects of humans on the global environment, particularly since the Industrial Revolution, have resulted in marked changes to the Earth’s surface, and that these may be reflected in the recent stratigraphic record (Zalasiewicz et al., 2008). The term ‘Anthropocene’ (Crutzen, 2002) has been employed informally to denote the contemporary global environment that is dominated by human activity (Andersson et al., 2005; Crossland, 2005; Zalasiewicz et al., 2010), and discussions are presently ongoing to determine whether the
stratigraphic signature of the Anthropocene is sufficiently clearly defined as to warrant its formal definition as a new period of geological time (Zalasiewicz et al., 2011a,b). This is currently being considered by a separate Working Group
of the SQS led by Dr Jan Zalasiewicz and, in order to avoid any possible conflict, the INTIMATE/SQS Working Group on the Holocene is of the view that this matter should not come under its present remit. Nevertheless, we do acknowledge that although there is a clear distinction between these two initiatives, the Holocene subdivision being based on natural climatic/environmental events whereas the concept of the Anthropocene centres on human impact on the environment, there may indeed be areas of overlap, for example in terms of potential human impact on atmospheric trace gas concentrations not only during the industrial era, but also perhaps during the Middle and Early Holocene (Ruddiman, 2003, 2005; Ruddiman et al., 2011). However, it is the opinion of the present Working Group that the possible definition of the Anthropocene would benefit from the prior establishment of a
formal framework for the natural environmental context of the Holocene upon which these, and also other human impacts, may have been superimposed.

Walker et al., 2012

There was no discussion of the collapses of civilizations as a basis for the Meghalayan Epoch.  To the extent archaeological evidence was relevant, it was relevant to the 4.2 ka event.  Furthermore, they went on to note that the Holocene subdivisions were based on “natural climatic/environmental events” rather than human impacts and that anthropogenic “fingerprints” appear to be present throughout the Holocene.

And this leads us to the reason that the Anthropocene will never be recognized as formal geologic time period.

The utility of the Anthropocene requires careful consideration by its various potential users. Its concept is fundamentally different from the chronostratigraphic units that are established by ICS in that the documentation and study of the human impact on the Earth system are based more on direct human observation than on a stratigraphic record. The drive to officially recognize the Anthropocene may, in fact, be political rather than scientific.

Finney & Edwards, 2016

Dr. Stanley Finney is the Secretary General of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), which would have to ratify any formal changes to the geologic time scale.

The geologic time scale is based on the stratigraphic record, not on human history.  Personally, I think the Holocene Epoch shouldn’t even be an epoch.  It should be an interglacial stage within the Upper Pleistocene, rather than an epoch of equal stature to the Pleistocene.

The subdivision of the Holocene was based on a formal recommendation from the INTIMATE Working Group and was approved by >60% votes of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy and the ICS Bureau, followed by ratification by the IUGS Executive Committee.

Figure 4 from Finney & Edwards.  “Workflow for approval and ratification of a Global Standard Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) proposal. Extensive discussion and evaluation occurs at the level of the working group, subcommission, and International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) Bureau. If approved at these successive levels, a proposal is forwarded to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) for ratification. This process is also followed for other ICS decisions on standardization, such as approval of names of formal units, of revisions to the units, and to revision or replacement of GSSPs.”

The Anthropocene Working Group has been around since 2009 and has yet to put forward a formal recommendation.


Finney, Stanley C. & Lucy E. Edwards. The “Anthropocene” epoch: Scientific decision or political statement? GSA Today, 2016; 26 (3): 4 DOI: 10.1130/GSATG270A.1

Walker, M. J., Berkelhammer, M. , Björck, S. , Cwynar, L. C., Fisher, D. A., Long, A. J., Lowe, J. J., Newnham, R. M., Rasmussen, S. O. and Weiss, H. (2012), Formal subdivision of the Holocene Series/Epoch: a Discussion Paper by a Working Group of INTIMATE (Integration of ice‐core, marine and terrestrial records) and the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (International Commission on Stratigraphy). J. Quaternary Sci., 27: 649-659. doi:10.1002/jqs.2565

H/T to Javier being the first to cover the subdivision of the Holocene here on WUWT.

If I’ve misspelled Meghalayan anywhere in this post, it’s because it’s a clumsy word with too many a’s in it.


Energy graphs

September 21, 2018


Fossil Fuel World

Primary Energy