As officers of the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG; J.Z. and C.W.) and chair of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS; M.J.H.) of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), we note that the AWG has less power than Erle Ellis and colleagues imply (Nature 540, 192–193; 2016). Its role is merely advisory — to evaluate the Anthropocene as a formal unit in the geological timescale. Proposals must pass scrutiny by the AWG, the SQS and the ICS before being ratified by the Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences.
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