Boris Shoshitaishvili is a science studies scholar with a background in evolutionary biology, comparative literature, and ancient Greek epic poetry. His work focuses on the relationship between the Earth sciences, globalization, and collective identity. He has published articles and reviews in Earth’s Future, The Anthropocene Review, and Bryn Mawr Classical Review, and co-authored scientific papers in Ageing Research Reviews and The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in UC Berkeley’s Anthropology department after earning his PhD in Comparative Literature from Stanford.
As a USC Berggruen Fellow, Boris is working on a book exploring how we can understand certain concepts from the Earth sciences—the Anthropocene, Gaia Theory, and the Noosphere—as early attempts to formulate specific “planetary identities,” which are poised to influence cultural, political, and institutional practices in the near future.
December 14, 2020
Since 1950, humanity has accelerated its population growth, energy use, and release of greenhouse gases, along with a variety of other environmentally and socio-economically significant trends. Taken together, this set of accelerated human-driven trends has been called the “Great Acceleration,” and its occurrence helps explain recent climate change and ecological disturbance. In this article, I explore two dominant but divergent paradigms for what is happening to our species as it becomes globalized and continues in the Great Acceleration. One of the paradigms is related to the newly proposed geological epoch of the “Anthropocene” (the Age of the Human Being), which sees the Great Acceleration as a rupture in our relationship to the Earth System. The other paradigm centers on the concept of a “Noosphere” (a sphere of thought) and proposes that human beings are forming a planetary awareness through these interlocking and accelerating trends. I argue that we need to learn from both paradigms to achieve a balanced understanding of the Great Acceleration.