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Learn more about the Great Acceleration

Watch this video with some of the indicators for human activites and their impacts used to illustrate the Great Acceleration.

The “Great Acceleration” refers to the growth of the human enterprise (the collective or our actions) on planet Earth which began gathering speed after 1950. Based on real world observations, it is possible to see that most of what we value in terms of welfare and development, from population growth, economic growth, to our paper consumption, telephone use, tourism, and the use of motor vehicles shows the same pattern of exponential growth since 1950.

This increase in activity was possible due technological advancements that began with the Industrial Revolution and following World War 2, which also saw access to cheap energy. Oil and Coal have been the primary energy sources driving the astonishing great acceleration of the human activity since the 1950s.

These exponential patterns in the human actions come with a corresponding environmental degradation, such as greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and nutrient loading. This translates into enormous pressure on planet Earth.

A key point here is that fossil fuels cannot continue to fuel the growth of the human activity as they have come at a great cost to earth system processes and the ability of the biosphere to continue to provide humanity with goods and services. We need a different kind of development.

Find out more about the Great Acceleration here.

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