I’m not sure how I missed this new word when it originally surfaced. An article by Ed Yong, published in The Atlantic on April 28, 2022, under the headline “We Created the ‘Pandemicene,’” may have been the word’s first appearance in a general-interest publication. (Note the quotation marks, a signal that the word is novel.) But as early as January 2021 the Science and Justice Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz, had launched a Pandemicene Podcast, so it’s possible that UCSC coined the term, a seamless blend of “pandemic” and the -cene combining form that signifies “geological epoch.”
Logo of the Pandemicene Project at the University of California, Santa Cruz
What finally got my attention was a “Post-Normal” column in the February 26, 2023, issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine by David Wallace-Wells. The headline in the table of contents is “The Pandemicene Era” (gift link).