The great deceleration in human activities and impacts



Abstract. Economic growth is inadvertently connected with human impacts on the environment. The currently accepted interpretation is that the intensity of human activities and impacts accelerated dramatically in the 1950s or more broadly in the second half of the 21st century. These claims are not based or a rigorous analysis of data but on impressions. The important question for human future is whether these claims are true. Distributions describing time dependence of human activities and impacts have now been mathematically analysed. Conclusions can be summarised as follows. (1) The intensity of human activities and impacts decelerated in the 1950s or more broadly in the second half of the 21st century. (2) Distributions describing time dependence of human activities and impacts cannot be used to determine the beginning of the Anthropocene because there are no intensification landmarks. (3) Mathematical analysis suggests a new interpretation of the concept of the Anthropocene. Human activities and impacts did not emerge with high intensity at any specific time. They evolved gradually over a long time. 

Keywords. The Anthropocene, Human activities and impacts, Deceleration, Sustainable future.

JEL. A12, C02, C12, F01, Y80.


The Anthropocene; Human activities and impacts; Deceleration; Sustainable future.

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