The Anthropocene equation

Author(s): Gaffney, O., W. Steffen
In: The Anthropocene Review 4(1): 53-61.
Year: 2017
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Patterns of the Anthropocene
Link to centre authors: Gaffney, Owen
Full reference: Gaffney, O., W. Steffen. 2017 The Anthropocene equation. The Anthropocene Review 4(1): 53-61.


The dominant external forces influencing the rate of change of the Earth System have been astronomical and geophysical during the planet’s 4.5-billion-year existence. In the last six decades, anthropogenic forcings have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change in the Earth System. This new regime can be represented by an ‘Anthropocene equation’, where other forcings tend to zero, and the rate of change under human influence can be estimated. Reducing the risk of leaving the glacial–interglacial limit cycle of the late Quaternary for an uncertain future will require, in the first instance, the rate of change of the Earth System to become approximately zero.

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