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Alumnus John McNeill Publishes New Book with Coauthor Peter Engelke

The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945


The Great Acceleration, published by Harvard University Press, discusses the Anthropocene, particularly in the period since the end of World War II. McNeill and Engelke highlight the experimental and uncontrollable nature that characterizes this rapid change over a short time frame. They discuss the role of energy systems, climate trends and cultural perspectives in the escalation our human development.

We know much about the events leading up to and defining industrialization, but what about the past fifty-odd years; during which time the earth’s human population has tripled and the impacts of our resource use (especially of fossil fuels) is creating environmental impacts most of us cannot even begin to grasp? If we now try to regain control over the impacts of our exploits, and use innovative technologies to engineer our future, where might this lead us? This volume addresses the novelty we face in the recent and future paths the Anthropocene era.