bulldog-earth-ball-cropBy now you’ve probably heard of the Anthropocene. Pin it on climate change, ocean acidification, mass extinction, resource depletion, global population, landscape transformation, or any other holy fuck hockey-stick graph: The point is that the stable environmental conditions of the Holocene — the geologic epoch we’ve known and loved — no longer apply.

The Anthropocene is more than just a fanciful notion held by those who believe homo sapiens has gone totally berserk. Bigwig geologists are taking the idea super seriously. In fact, members of the International Commission on Stratigraphy — the masters of the official geologic timetable — have organized a group of scientists and experts to consider formal adoption of the Anthropocene. The basic task of the Anthropocene Working Group is to try to imagine what the rock record will look like a million years in the future, and to figure out whether we humans will have a lasting enough impact to truly merit an epoch all our own.

To get a peek behind the curtain, the Generation Anthropocene producers recently sat down with four members of the Anthropocene Working Group: Jan Zalasiewicz, the group’s convener; Mike Ellis, head of climate change science at the British Geological Survey; Mark Williams, a paleobiologist at the University of Leicester; and Davor Vidas, an international lawyer and expert on the Law of the Sea.