New Worry: Global Soil Change

Scientists propose calling current geological era 'Anthropocene'—human-made
By Erin Mendell,  Newser User
Posted Feb 8, 2008 6:20 PM CST

(Newser) – Earth's changing soils appear less able to support farming and plant and animal diversity because of human activity, a study shows. "Global soil change," which is occurring most severely in Africa and Asia, has a heavier hand in climate change than previously thought, National Geographic reports. Degraded soils lose the ability to store carbon, putting billions of additional tons into the air.

Animal dung burnt for cooking, topsoil fashioned into bricks and nutrient-depleting farming processes have global repercussions, researchers say. Humankind's invasive impact has led some experts to clamor for the recognition of a new geological period, the Anthropocene, or human-made, age. The transition would require approval by a geological commission, which may be some years off.