I was volunteered to research the topic of “The Great Acceleration”, but after a day or so of doing other research I mis-remembered what the topic was a started a google search on Global Acceleration which yielded some strange results http://www.reconnections.net/gas.htm
Planetary motion making you feel dizzy? I didn’t even know that that was a thing. Surely this wasn’t what I was looking for so I double checked my topic and found this…
The ‘Great Acceleration’ graphs, originally published in 2004 to show socio-economic and Earth System trends from 1750 to 2000, have now been updated to 2010. In the graphs of socio-economic trends, where the data permit, the activity of the wealthy (OECD) countries, those countries with emerging economies, and the rest of the world have now been differentiated. The dominant feature of the socio-economic trends is that the economic activity of the human enterprise continues to grow at a rapid rate. However, the differentiated graphs clearly show that strong equity issues are masked by considering global aggregates only. Most of the population growth since 1950 has been in the non-OECD world but the world’s economy (GDP), and hence consumption, is still strongly dominated by the OECD world. The Earth System indicators, in general, continued their long-term, post-industrial rise, although a few, such as atmospheric methane concentration and stratospheric ozone loss, showed a slowing or apparent stabilisation over the past decade. The post-1950 acceleration in the Earth System indicators remains clear. Only beyond the mid-20th century is there clear evidence for fundamental shifts in the state and functioning of the Earth System that are beyond the range of variability of the Holocene and driven by human activities. Thus, of all the candidates for a start date for the Anthropocene, the beginning of the Great Acceleration is by far the most convincing from an Earth System science perspective.
This was a real eye opener for me since I thought I was pretty up to date on climate change and global current events. So I began looking into other information about this concept of The Great Acceleration which led me to this website (which I found to be pretty amazing and well put together as an interactive website with the most horrible news you could ever learn goes).
After finding this site, I had me wondering why these specific indicators were chosen as representative of this potential existential crisis that humans were facing, and then I found this quote.
Other indicators could be added, particularly as new datasets come online. For example, rare earth elements, international trade, steel, Arctic sea-ice loss and renewable energies are possibilities.
Which tells me that this work is still being done, and if it is still being done then maybe there is hope. Maybe there are possibilities to reverse some of the adverse effects that pose this existential risk to most of life on the planet. The view was dim but maybe not as dark as I thought. Perhaps most encouraging about what I am finding on this topic is that the really smart people who are studying this phenomena are looking at it with a holistic approach. Taking all of this disparate data and putting it together in one place to see a more birds eye view, one that provides a greater context and allows for a look into the possibilities of ways to approach fixing the problems. I find this is a better approach than looking at tipping points, which leads to a defeatist type attitude to one of the greatest problems humankind has ever faced. With this approach one can see potential for designing solutions to individual problems like dams, paper production, transportation, or international tourism. It also points out that global GDP is the highest it has ever been, and with global communication at its highest rate ever we as a world can work together to develop really great design ideas to solve this problems and maybe pull ourselves back from the brink.