The Holocene, which began around 11,700 years ago, has been an unusually stable and benign period in Earth's climate history, and with its equanimity it has enabled Homo sapiens to spread around the world and build our modern civilisation. Now, however, evidence suggests that our own economic activities have killed off this geological epoch that saw (and facilitated) the rise of our species to world domination.
As an official working group is pondering the case for declaring a new epoch, the Anthropocene, two separate assessments of the damage we have caused to the Earth system have been updated and improved.
All this is covered in detail in my latest feature in Current Biology, which came out on Monday:
Assessing humanity's global impact
Current Biology Volume 25, Issue 4, pR131–R134, 16 February 2015