Maybe you’ve heard that we are living in 2018. For the most part, that’s correct, but there are some who might disagree with you. That’s because you follow the Gregorian calendar, which has picked year 0 as the year of the birth of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this calendar has many problems; first and most obviously, it is not neutral, as a calendar used worldwide should be. There do exist alternatives, including one that, until recently, has been relegated to the sidelines of scientific and anthropological conversation. Using the Holocene calendar solves these problems of neutrality and adds numerous benefits to how we as humans look at our time on Earth.
Picking the birth of Christ as the year 0 sends a strong political message, one not everyone agrees with. Many Muslims, Jews and non-Christians may feel vexed by this assertian of the majority. As Palestinian professor Ghada Ramahi writes in “Muslims and the Gregorian Millennium,” in “celebrating the dawn of the third Gregorian New Year, the Eurocentric West rejoices itself. It celebrates the culmination of its triumph over the world. In a sense, it is a celebration of subjugation of the Globe to the Political West.” Although there is a movement to change “Before Christ” (BC) and “Anno Domini” (AD) to “Before Common Era” (BCE) and “Common Era” (CE), the birth of Christ as the beginning of the calendar has remained. Honestly, this is just a Band-Aid solution for the unambitious.
Secondly, the focus on Christianity as our year 0 is exclusionary to of people outside the Christian world. As we live in an increasingly globalized society, we should have a calendar that reflects our interconnected world. A calendar needs to reflect more diversity than just our 29 percent Christian Earth, a statistic reported by the Pew Research Center.
Thirdly, the Gregorian calendar confuses our sense of time. This calendar forces us to do math to figure out how long ago something happened, confusing and complicating our perception of history. When discussing events that happened before the birth of Christ, you either do math that complicates the timeline of human history or do no math at all. With a calendar like that, it can be difficult to fully grasp when something happened. Wouldn’t it just be easier if things that happened longer ago had smaller positive numbers attached to them?
However, there is an alternative to the outdated, inefficient and problematic Gregorian calendar. The Holocene calendar solves all of these problems, making history less Eurocentric and more inclusive, solving timeline issues and better showing the exponential growth of human technological innovation as detailed in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn. The change is also simple: we would simply add 10,000 years to our current Gregorian calendar, making this the year 12018. There would be no changes to months, weeks or days. All holidays would stay the same, and for day-to-day life, nothing would change. The new year 0 would be 12018 years ago, approximately when hundreds of humans came together in Anatolia to build the world’s first major construction project. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this construction is called Göbekli Tepe. Over 200 stone pillars were erected in 20 concentric circles, decorated with depictions of long-forgotten gods. It was in this place and at this time that humans first started building our brave new world, and when humans transitioned from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural system and founded fixed settlements, as reported by National Geographic. That was the beginning of the Holocene geological epoch and the Neolithic Revolution, permanently changing humans’ relationship with our Earth — for better and for worse.
This accomplishment was so important in the history of humanity that scientist Cesare Emiliani proposed in the 1993 edition of Nature that we add 10,000 years to our current Gregorian calendar to accommodate this global shift in humanity’s relationship with the Earth. This would drastically change how we look at our history of progress and civilization on our planet. To get a better understanding of what this evolution of calendars would look like, let’s look at our history from the new year 0.
0 HE: First construction project, as reported by UNESCO.
1000 HE: Jericho, the first city on Earth, founded, according to The Guardian.
2000 HE: Technological progress is still very slow, with and more permanent settlements cropping up around the world and more plants and animals domesticated with the spread of agriculture, as explained in the book “Explain That Stuff.” According to PBS Radio Hour, world population is still only five million, the size of the modern population of Colorado.
3000 HE: First civilizations form in Egypt, China and the Fertile Crescent. Evidence of trade over hundred of kilometers are present, according to “Explain That Stuff.”
4000 HE: Metalworking begins the Bronze Age, also according to “Explain That Stuff.”
5000 HE: The first system of proto-writing and the wheel are invented, as detailed in “Explain That Stuff.”
6000 HE: Domestication of horse and invention of pottery wheel take place, as stated in “Explain That Stuff.”
7000 HE: The world population reaches 30 million, the same number of people who currently live in Texas, as explained by PBS Radio Hour. According to PBS, it took five thousand years for the world population to grow by 25 million, which today can happen in 34 days.
8000 HE: Writing is developed, beginning recorded history, according to “Explain that Stuff.”
9000 HE: Advanced furnaces and charcoal begin the Iron Age in China, as explained in PBS Radio Hour.
10000 HE: The world population reaches 300 million, as reported by PBS Radio Hour.
In the 2000 years the following the year 10000 HE, we went from triangular sails and iron swords to landing on the moon and developing technology with the capacity to destroy our world in hours. The Holocene calendar celebrates the contribution of every human in our continuous technological progress over the last many millenia. To do anything less than change how we think about and look at human history is a disservice to the giants modern civilization stands on, and doesn’t prepare us to think about how the far-reaching implications of our current decisions will impact generations to come.