Analysis: Welcome to the Anthropocene

A greener life, a greener world

Butterfly made of leavesBy Nick King

There’s nothing more innocuous than a single sheet of cling film, wrapped around your chicken mayo sandwich. But add up all those sandwiches and suddenly you’re looking at a picnic of cataclysmic proportions. Professor Jan Zalasiewicz of Leicester University has revealed that if all the plastic waste produced to date were converted to cling film, it would be enough to not only wrap billions of sandwiches and leftovers but to wrap the entire planet as a whole! Welcome to the Anthropocene – a new geological epoch that recognises the mark that humans have made on Earth.

The concerning thing is, plastic waste is only one facet of a much larger set of interconnected impacts arising from our civilisation. With an estimated 16 million tons of plastic added to our oceans annually, combined with civilisation’s other waste products dispersing into the environment, we could face everything from…

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