THE GREAT ACCELERATION : AN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY OF THE ANTHROPOCENE SINCE 1945Book
The pace of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and population growth has thrust the planet into a new age—the Anthropocene. Humans have altered the planet’s biogeochemical systems without consciously managing them. The Great Acceleration explains the causes, consequences, and uncertainties of this massive uncontrolled experiment.
The Earth has entered a new age—the Anthropocene—in which humans are the most powerful influence on global ecology. Since the mid-twentieth century, the accelerating pace of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and population growth has thrust the planet into a massive uncontrolled experiment. The Great Acceleration explains its causes and consequences, highlighting the role of energy systems, as well as trends in climate change, urbanization, and environmentalism.
More than any other factor, human dependence on fossil fuels inaugurated the Anthropocene. Before 1700, people used little in the way of fossil fuels, but over the next two hundred years coal became the most important energy source. When oil entered the picture, coal and oil soon accounted for seventy-five percent of human energy use. This allowed far more economic activity and produced a higher standard of living than people had ever known—but it created far more ecological disruption.
We are now living in the Anthropocene. The period from 1945 to the present represents the most anomalous period in the history of humanity’s relationship with the biosphere. Three-quarters of the carbon dioxide humans have contributed to the atmosphere has accumulated since World War II ended, and the number of people on Earth has nearly tripled. So far, humans have dramatically altered the planet’s biogeochemical systems without consciously managing them. If we try to control these systems through geoengineering, we will inaugurate another stage of the Anthropocene. Where it might lead, no one can say for sure.
Baker & Taylor
"This book explains the scale, scope, pace, and character of environmental change around the world since the middle of the twentieth century as well as the reasons behind it. From the biology of the deep ocean to the chemistry of the stratosphere, and almost everywhere in between, human actions have led to ecological alterations great and small. While our species has exerted environmental impacts, occasionally substantial ones since the Paleolithic, never before has humankind had such an impact on the Earth. A massive uncontrolled experiment is underway. Where it might lead, no one can yet say. The reasons behind this environmental tumult are sometimes obvious and sometimes obscure. This book highlights the role of the modern energy system and the economic growth it has fostered, but pays heed as well to population growth, urbanization, migration, the Cold War, and environmentalisms, among other trends and phenomena that affected the global environment. The pace of indicators such as energy use, population growth, species extinctions, fresh water use, carbon dioxide emissions, and many more has led some students of environmental change to label the period after 1950 as The Great Acceleration. This book argues that concept is valid. In addition, it arguesthat the scale and scope of environmental change have altered basic biogeochemical cycles to the point where the Earth has entered a new period in its history: the Anthropocene. Humankind, too, has entered a new age in which it rivals natural forces in shaping the Earth, its biota, its climate, and its prospects."--Provided by publisher.
The Anthropocene is a concept/term originally developed by Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen, who won the Nobel Prize in 1995 for his work on the depletion of the ozone layer. In this book for general readers and students, the Anthropocene is defined as a geological epoch starting in the mid-1700s, when humans began affecting the environment on a larger scale, leading to population growth, greenhouse gases, and climate change. The book provides a plain-language overview of the environmental crisis, how it affects society, and what can be done to halt environmental destruction. It outlines changes in the environment due to human activities from 1945 to the present, with chapters on energy and population, climate and biological diversity, cities and the economy, and the Cold War and environmental culture. The book includes b&w photos and maps. Annotation ©2016 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)