The way humanity regards its calendar today is akin to our old conception of the solar system. We put ourselves at the centre of the universe with the sun and stars revolving around us. Our egocentric thought process has us narrowing Earth’s extensive history to our minuscule blip in time. Humanity is only the tip of the iceberg, one at risk of melting if we fail to address spiralling climate change. If people feel more anchored to the diverse past of their planet, they may sooner see what is at stake.
Dubbing this the year 2021 leads people to misjudge the scale of the Earth’s past to our own. The number implies that this is the beginning of mankind’s second millennia, or at least the second one that matters. History is sorted into two categories, B.C. and A.D, or before Christ and Anno Domini (the year of our lord). This distinction separates us from the majority of both Earth and our pasts. The illusion must be shattered.
Pushed away into the realm of B.C. lays some of Earth’s most precious accomplishments. Every mountain, sea, desert, and jungle began in an age forgotten. A common remark tells that 99.9% of species have gone extinct. With the majority of biodiversity extinct and more species joining the count every year, why do some remain ignorant to the issue? They may feel reluctant to change because they feel removed from the losses climate change is inflicting. Earth one hundred million years ago was an entirely different planet than it is today, and yet it was still our planet. Seeing creations thousands of years old cease to exist should provoke anger and sorrow. Humanity is a part of Earth’s past, and we are at the forefront of its destruction.
Eventually, issues surrounding the calendar were finally addressed. Officials argued that it was unfair to force non-Christian peoples to utilize a Christian system. “Before Christ” became before the common era (B.C.E.), and Anno Domini became the common era (C.E.). The system was based on the year of Christ birth, an estimation that had been widely contested. This was the best opportunity to change the dating system to better reflect humanity’s past, if not Earth itself. The Gregorian calendar current numbering system has little significance, but we may gain something by altering it.
The Holocene calendar is a step in the right direction. Under this system, exactly 10,000 years are represented to everyone year of the common era. The Gregorian year 2021 is 12021 on the Holocene calendar. The calendar represents a shift from the Pleistocene Era and the beginning of agriculture-based human societies. By simply changing the number on our calendar, we can be more inclusive of our recent past. Great empires like the Egyptians, Macedonians, and Persians become more rooted in who we are today. It would help to show how modern humans built off of what our ancestors began. It should not stop there.
Earth is estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old. If we adapt our calendar to our planet’s history, we will understand our insignificant impact on the timeline. If our actions spell an end for Earth as we know it, we would not just affect our race. We would be terminating a beautiful history 4.5 billion years in the making.
Some things need to be put in a different perspective. On a day-to-day basis, a change in the calendar year would not significantly affect our society. What it would do is make people stop to marvel at how extensive our past is. People may feel more empathy for a world they feel more connected with. Just like early solar models, our calendars isolate humanity from the bigger picture. Climate change is a real threat, and there is more at stake than we realize. Let us consider all of the Earth’s past to be as important as the last two thousand years.
Welcome to the year 4,543,000,000.