Last week’s news about the tipping-point study in Nature ought to prompt some serious thinking. It is becoming increasingly clear that the decisions made by people alive today will determine the fate of life on Earth for centuries to come.

When stated plainly, that sounds almost absurd, like a science fiction premise: “They held the power to control the wooorld!” But it’s true nonetheless. After a multi-century explosion in number, power, and impact, homo sapiens is now the dominant force on the planet, reshaping its biophysical systems through land-use changes, resource depletion, and climate change. We live in the Anthropocene, a geologic era shaped by humans.

We have not yet begun to grapple with that realization. In time, I believe it will rank alongside evolution by natural selection among ideas that have fundamentally transformed our understanding of ourselves and our world. Like Darwin’s dangerous idea, it will ripple its way through the physical and social sciences. Hell, some day even economists might get it! (I kid. Kind of.)