All of the following terms appear in this unit. The terms are arranged here in alphabetical order.
Anthropocene epoch — A new epoch, not formally accepted by geologists, during which our species has become the dominant force for change in the biosphere. The Anthropocene marks the end of the Holocene epoch, about the time of the Industrial Revolution, 200 years ago.
artisan — A person who is skilled at a craft such as pottery or weaving.
biosphere — The entire network of life on Earth; the region of Earth in which living organisms can be found.
capitalism — A competitive economic system in which products and production means are owned by individuals or private groups.
climate change — Measurable changes in the climate over long periods of time.
collective learning — The ability to share, preserve, and build upon ideas over time.
commerce — The large-scale buying and selling of goods and services.
communications — The technologies, including speech, writing, printing, and the Internet, by which people exchange information and ideas.
communism — A system of government or social organization in which all property is held collectively and authorities control the distribution of property and resources. For a time in the twentieth century, communist societies in the Soviet Union, China, Eastern Europe, and East and Southeast Asia included almost half of the world’s population.
competitive market — A system of exchange of goods and services based on supply and demand.
energy — The capacity to do work, associated with matter and radiation. Includes kinetic energy, potential energy, and chemical energy, among others.
exchange networks — Networks that link people, societies, and regions through the transfer of information, goods, people, and sometimes disease. All forms of collective learning work through exchange networks.
fossil fuel — A carbon- based material such as coal, oil, or natural gas that can be used as an energy source. Fossil fuels were originally formed when the remains of living organisms were buried and broken down by intense heat and pressure over millions of years.
globalization — The expansion of exchange networks until they begin to reach across the entire world.
industrialization — The transition to mechanized or more technologically advanced production methods, such as factories.
Industrial Revolution — A period of technological innovation starting in England late in the eighteenth century that resulted in a major change in the way goods were produced, and caused a major shift in global economics. These innovations came as a result of the systematic use of fossil fuels in place of human and animal power to manufacturing, communications, and transportation.
innovation — Generation of a new idea, method, or product.
Marxism — Ideologies inspired by the writings of Karl Marx (1818–1883). Marx argued that capitalism was the key feature of the modern world, but that capitalism created such profound inequality that it would eventually have to be abolished in a future socialist society.
Modern Revolution — A deliberately vague label for the revolutionary transformations that have created the modern world. The Modern Revolution began around 1500 and ushered in the Modern era of human history.
monopoly — A situation in which there is only one supplier of a commodity. According to economic theory, monopolies stifle innovation because monopolists have a captive market so they do not need to worry about improving the quality or reducing the price of their products.
steam engines — Machines that burn coal to produce steam, used to perform mechanical work. James Watt configured the first profitable one at the time of the American Revolution. Their use launched human society over a threshold no longer limited by the annual flow of solar energy.
transportation — The technologies and methods by which people and goods are moved from place to place. Methods of transportation include porters, horse-drawn wagons, cars, trains, boats, planes, and shipping containers, among many others.