The Great Acceleration, un-burnable carbon, and global impacts
We are living in extraordinary times and transformation is already happening and accelerating all around us. Many technological, social, and environmental changes are racing up the steep end of the exponential curve. In almost every area of our lives old structures are breaking down as we are witnessing the unfolding impacts of unprecedented technological innovation and its rapid deployment in a globally expanding consumer culture.
Exponential growth on a finite planet
‘The Great Acceleration’ is happening within the context of an expanding human population, profound societal and economic transformation on all continents, and — most urgent of all — a dangerous destabilization of global and local climate patterns. There is a scientific consensus that we need to take immediate action if we are to avoid catastrophic climate effects on the future of humankind, the diversity of life and the entire planet.
Already hundreds of thousands of people die every year due to climate change related extreme weather events and millions lose their homes, go hungry or are forced to migrate. Ecosystems everywhere, and the biosphere as a whole, are reaching dangerous tipping points. The prolonged impact of an industrial growth society addicted to fossil fuels and the rapid extraction of non-renewable resources is pushing against planetary boundaries.
Our current economic system is structurally committed to ever-increasing economic growth and intertwined with a financial system that generates money out of nowhere based on debt, and currencies that are not backed up by real material value (see module two). Attempts to resuscitate this structurally dysfunctional system are getting more and more expensive, as the cycles of economic crisis and costly (temporary) recovery are getting shorter and shorter.
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