For non-Christians like me it is daft to count the years from the birth of Christ, who (if he ever lived at all) was not born in year 1 CE after all, but some 7 years earlier, according to most historians. It is very awkward to use BCE dates for important historical events that happened ‘Before the Current Era’. You have to count backward to the BCE/CE boundary and then forward again. It seems very strange to me.
In the late 80s I got the idea to put a 1 before the year number, all of a sudden you would then have lots of ‘normal’ years to assign to historical events ‘Before the Current Era’. The year 1989 becomes 11989, the year 44 BCE, when Julius Ceasar was assasinated would become 9957 (10001 – 44), 752 BCE, the year that Rome was founded, would become 9248, etc. It is like using degrees Kelvin instead of degrees Celcius: all years with historical events would have a positive number.
Is there anything significant that happened in year 1 of this new calendar? Roundabout that time the last ice age was ending, agriculture was invented in the Middle East, people reached the southern tip of South America, meaning that all continents (apart from Antartica) had by then been colonized. It is not really that important, certainly no god was born exactly in that year!
I posted the idea in 1988 or 1989 in talk.origins and several other Usenet newsgroups. The idea was received favourably, except by a christian fundamentalist who reacted furiously.
I sort of forgot about it until I read a book about calendars in 2002, that made a reference to the Holocene calendar (I forgot the title of that book). This calendar does exactly what I proposed back then. It was apparently conceived by the late Cesare Emiliani, a brilliant geologist in the early 90s. I searched the web and I found a web page made by Michael Fuehrer where he describes the idea and gives a timeline based on what he calls the Holocene calendar. Unfortunately that web page no longer exists.
The problem with calling it the Holocene calendar is that the holocene started in fact some 1500 years later, based on radiocarbon dating. I would therefore rather call it the Human Era calendar, not sure who called it that first. I like it as it covers the period when humans started to reach their full potential, for good and for worse, unfortunately.
Below you see a timeline, based on Michael Fuehrer’s timeline.