ORIGIN STORY: Global Acceleration, c. 1950
A fundamental “phase of the Anthropocene … (is) the post-World War II worldwide industrialization, techno-scientific development, nuclear arms race, population explosion, and rapid economic growth” (Steffen et al. 2011).
Many begin the story of the Anthropocene around 1950, which makes for a profoundly contemporary problem: the globally accelerating development of humanity as our relations with nature intensify in ways that threaten to erase records of the past completely and rapidly. One solution is to change approaches to industrial and food production, transportation, and energy development. This story emphasizes the increasing pace of change and therefore the critical need for science, education, and restraint. There is, however, the risk of nostalgia in the suggestion that a return to the values of earlier times can solve contemporary problems. This open-ended story can be asked with Sauer’s timeless question, about whether humanity can learn the difference between yield and loot (Sauer, 1937).