Global Changes

The Great Acceleration

By The Editors

Global changes characteristic of both Space Age and Information Age are defined by exponential increases in a variety of dimensions related to the human relationship with the natural world.  Examples of these dimensions are human population growth, resource use, and economic activity.

The scale and speed of these increases, clearly recognizable since the 1950’s, can be best approximated with exponential curves.

Exponential Curve
Exponential Curve

The process that encompasses the global changes occurring in the Space and Information Ages is called “The Great Acceleration“.

Below is a slideshow containing a series of graphs depicting the sharp acceleration in human activity since the 1950s and the impact of this acceleration on the Earth system.


  • awilliams199

    Wow the exponential increase observed in all of these graphs are very interesting. It is true that as populations increase so will the use of many products and resources. Modern day technology and medical treatments have caused a spike in population growth. Before modern day treatments there were no vaccines, machinery to relieve workers of labor intense jobs which resulted in a smaller population. Having a smaller population was beneficial because the demand on resources were not a high. Although having a smaller population would be more beneficial this is not an reality. As long as technology and advanced medical practices are present the population will always be large. I’m not saying we should decrease our population but it is important for to finds ways to preserve more natural resources and decrease pollution. Perhaps some ways to accomplish this is to research alternative energy sources, use different industrial processes to prevent pollution, and also bring about more public awareness about this issue.

  • chow26

    This is why we all should have the global mindset of conserving our resources, instead of wasting them to make or save a buck. Their is available evidence that shows the consequence of what will happen if we keep on using resources at an accelerated rate, but we continue to do what we want to do, disregarding the well-being of Earth. At this rate, the Earth will eventually run out of these resources, and money will be worthless if there’s no Earth.

  • FurElise

    This powerpoint opened insight on the amount of resources that have increasingly been used since the 1950’s. The extreme increase in usage is no surprise, though, when you think about the population size during this time period. The 190’s yielded the “baby boomer” generation and has since increased because of future generations. It’s a bit scary to think about where we will be with the usage of resources in another 50 years because, though the population continues to increase, the amount of resources stays the same. At this rate, there won’t be much left.

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