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Modern History

1980s montage
A montage from the 1980s. From left to right, top to bottom, the launch of the first space shuttle, Columbia, 12 April 1981, crewed by astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen; Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the White House, 8 December 1987; Iranian soldier wearing a gas mask during the Iran-Iraq War, March 1985; fall of the Berlin Wall, November 1989; Chernobyl reactor #4 building as of 2006, including the later-built sarcophagus and elements of the maximum-security perimeter; Live Aid at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, 13 July 1985; IBM PC 5150 with keyboard and green monochrome monitor, running MS-DOS 5.0, the PC started during this decade - Wikimedia


Modern or contemporary History, covering the last 50 to 60 years, is marked by the rise of globalization, the development of new technologies and communication systems, and the growth of the global economy. This period saw the end of colonialism, the rise of the modern environmental movement, and the growth of the internet and digital technologies.

Including significant events such as (if we include the last hundred years) World War II, the Cold War, then in the last 50 years the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the rise of the digital age. This period also saw major political, social, and cultural movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, and the LGBTQ rights movement.

That the entire Information Revolution and the modern global social and economic order can fit in such a brief timespan. one percent of world history as a whole, can be used to argue that technological and social change are accelerating and heading to some sort of singularity.


The Anthropocene

A tragic result of human overpopulation is the decline of the natural world, which is being squeezed out by human land use. Nothing shows this better than this chart of changing mammalian biomass:

Decline of the world’s wild mammals
Wild mammals make up only a few percent of the world’s mammals Livestock make up 62% of the world’s mammal biomass; humans account for 34%; and wild mammals are just 4%; original page.

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Page by M Alan Kazlev, 2023