Holocene Epoch

This article discusses Holocene Epoch, a term used to indicate the current period of geological time. By definition, “The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present day.” In simple words, Holocene Epoch is the current time we are living in. This topic is an essential topic for the UPSC 2021 exam.

Another term used often for the Holocene Epoch is the Anthropocene Epoch because its dominant peculiarities are the global changes caused by human activity. The increase in global warming, global climatic alteration and destruction of land and pollution are the primary reason for the extinction of flora and fauna. 

Holocene Epoch – “The Age of Man”

It is also known as Anthropogene- the “Age of Man”- because its dominant peculiarities are the global changes caused by human activity. This period has observed humanity’s history as well as the rise and fall of its civilisations.

The period ranging from the last 11,000 years of the Earth’s history till date is known as the Holocene Epoch. In geologic time, the Holocene Epoch serves as the second epoch in the current Quaternary Period. It began at the close of the Paleolithic Ice Age and continues till date.

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The glaciers of the late Paleolithic retreated, and as a result, the Earth entered a warming mode. Tundra changed into forests. Due to the drastic climate change, the large mammals that had adapted to extreme cold weather like woolly rhinoceros and mammoth became extinct. Man, who was dependent on these mega mammals for food switched to smaller animals, as well as increased his intake of plants for food. By 8000 BCE, agriculture was invented, and this was one of the chief activities of man that changed the face of the planet forever. Domestication of certain animals like goats, sheep and cattle also started around that time.

Like any other phenomenon, the Holocene Epoch has been a period of both development and loss. Science, technology and human knowledge have developed over the years. Knowledge has helped to control the damage that has been caused to the environment by human activities and also to predict their effects. 

Evidence of Holocene Epoch

Human presence and existence have resulted in the current period of Holocene epoch. Given below are a few reasons that have resulted in the continuous decline in the environmental balance due to human activities:

  • The human activities have resulted in the extinction of various animal and plant species far before their estimated disappearance. 
  • The amount of plastic used is another damage caused to the environment. 
  • The increase in water and air pollution is another reason for the constant decline of the atmosphere.
  • The increase in the burning of fossil fuels and an increased level of carbon dioxide is also a result of human activities.
  • Use of fertilisers has increased the level of phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil, decreasing the quality of land for the growth of various species of plants.
  • The melting of glaciers is also an effect of global warming.

The current geographical and atmospheric condition of Earth is all a result of the declining state of the Earth’s atmosphere. Even for scientists to overcome this change is the biggest challenge as the downtrend in global warming results back around a hundred years and to escape this period of Holocene Epoch is the biggest challenge they are facing. 

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Hence it is suggested that climatic change and global warming are the results of human activity gone too far. The impact of human activities has had both terrific and terrible impact on the environment and thereby creating a Holocene Epoch.

FAQ about Holocene Epoch

What is the current epoch?

Officially, the current epoch is called the Holocene, which began 11,700 years ago after the last major ice age.

What does an epoch mean?

The earth’s geologic epochs is a unit of geological time defined by evidence in rock layers—typically last more than three million years.

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