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Welcome to the Anthropocene: trends in human development and environmental pressures

Infographic | 06-07-2017

Twentieth century human development has brought the Earth into the Anthropocene, the proposed new geological epoch defined by humanity’s impact on the planet. A sharply increasing population, especially in urban areas, alongside strong economic growth, has resulted in a rising demand for natural resources, including food, water and energy.

Although economic growth has improved human well-being, growth in the demand for resources is putting increasing pressure on the environment, though there are major differences between regions. Both human well-being and the environment need to be taken into account, if we are to arrive at a sustainable future. Maintaining the balance between these two domains depends on the way we address and steer growth in production and consumption. An important question is how we support human well-being without compromising the Earth’s capacity to provide the resources that human societies need.


Source data

Trend data compiled by PBL and Steffen et al. (2014). The following information sources were used, plus data from a set of online databases: FAOSTAT database, International Road Federation (IRF) database (2011), World Bank World Development

Indicators based on:

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