Questions for ‘Meet our trashy “technosphere”’


Humans are littering the Earth and creating a new geologic layer called the technosphere.


To accompany feature “Meet our trashy ‘technosphere’


Before Reading:

1.  Look around you. How many items can you see that will eventually be thrown away? Make a list. What is recyclable? What will go into the trash?

2.  Besides discarding trash, come up with four more ways that humans leave their mark on the planet.

During Reading

1.  What is the technosphere?

2.  How big is the technosphere?

3.  How does sedimentary rock form?

4.  What is the Anthropocene?

5.  Name three examples from the story of evidence of current people that future dwellers of Earth will likely find.

6.  What are index fossils? Give an example of an index fossil from the technosphere.

After Reading

1.  Look around you. Make a list of 10 items that could become fossils of the future. Which of these, if any, might be index fossils?

2.  Is the technosphere something to be concerned about? Why or why not? Support your answer using evidence from the story.


1.   The technosphere currently consists of 30 trillion tons of “stuff” that people have left on Earth’s surface. It is spread over an area of some 80 million square kilometers. If you assume that the layer is evenly spread 1 meter thick, what is its average density in tons per cubic meter?