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Unit: 9. Acceleration

About this unit

Just 500 years ago, humans lived in four separate world zones, each with distinct cultures and technologies. Now, humanity is linked within one interconnected network of information and commerce that spans the entire planet. How did this happen so quickly? With increased volume and diversity of global exchange, commerce and collective learning accelerated. Competitive markets formed, and, with the discovery of fossil fuels, technological innovation surged and consumption of natural resources intensified. Humanity came to control so much of the planet’s energy that, for the first time in Earth’s history, a single species began to dominate the biosphere. Some argue that a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene, had begun. Together, innovation, globalization, and new forms of energy drove an incredible transformation of human society. What challenges did acceleration bring and where will it lead us?