The chapter first discusses the Great Divide that separates Western societies from the range of societies around the world, where the dichotomy of nature and culture is central to this divide. Ideas and practices associated with that dichotomy were imposed on others and early forms of environmental awareness arose on the colonial periphery, a forerunner of the current concern with climate change. The second section draws on Polanyi's The Great Transformation to show that colonial transformations documented in the first section were occurring at the same time a theory of market liberalism was developed, based on the idea that societies should be subordinated to self-regulating markets. The move from solar to coal-powered and subsequently oil-based energy was central here as were the environmental implications. The final section describes the 'great acceleration' of changes to the socio-economic and biophysical spheres that has resulted and current analyses of our planetary predicament.
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