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Lecture 2

Week 2- Historical context of human- Environment interactions

6 Pages

Course Code
GEOG 1220
Lorne Bennett

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DAY  2     Intro:     When  did  these  problems  begin?  Or  is  this  a  life  style?     -­‐The  earlier  hunter-­‐gatherer  societies  were  successful  practicing  ecologists.   1.  Tools   2.  Fire-­‐  we  domesticated  fire   3.  Ecological  Knowledge-­‐  the  only  way  to  survive  back  then,  knowing  where  to  find   food,  what  and  when  we  can  eat,  time  of  year  food  was  available.  Hunter-­‐gatherer   survived  2  million  years  with  this  knowledge.   99%  of  our  time  on  earth  as  hunter-­‐gatherers.  Only  in  the  last  10  thousand  years   has  there  been  significant  change     Evolution  of  Tools:   -­‐Quartzite   -­‐Obsidean   -­‐Copper   -­‐Bronze   -­‐Iron   -­‐Steel     18  thousand  years  ago  we  would  be  described  as  a  very  successful  species     AGRICULTURAL  REVOLUTION     Types  of  early  societies   1) Lower  Paleolithic  or  early  stone  age  (>10000  years  B.P)   -­‐savagery  (crazy,  wild,  violent)   -­‐opportunistic   -­‐scavenging/hunting  of  animals,  carnivores,     -­‐highly  mobile  populations,  we  built  temporary  structures,  developed   clothing,  these  two  things  allowed  us  to  expand  our  range   -­‐  chipped,  stone/bone/wooden  tools   -­‐lived  for  hundreds  of  thousands  of  years  by  watching  the  nature  around  us   -­‐only  twenty  thousand  years  ago  we  learned  to  fish     2) The  Upper  Paleolithic  (`8,500-­‐  10,00  years  before  B.P)   -­‐barbaric  (thinking  about  things  a  little  bit,  cruel  attack)   -­‐manipulative  control  of  wild  plant  and  animal  resources,  we  began  to  plant   &  harvest  grains,  acorns   -­‐more  sophisticated  hunter-­‐gatherers   -­‐populations  still  mobile,  but  more  campsites   -­‐more  considered  use  of  fire  (more  knowledgable  of  the  impact  of  fire)     3) Neolithic  or  late  Stone  Age  (5,000-­‐  8,500  years  BP)   -­‐Gradual  replacement  of  wild  species  and  hunter-­‐gatherer  strategies  with   domesticated  plants  and  animals   -­‐permanent  settlements  (villages,  small,  little  bit  of  trade)   -­‐more  sophisticated  (evolving,  bowls,  needles,  clay  figurines  of  humans   &animals)   -­‐food  processing  equipment  (agricultural  tools)     4) Bronze  Age  (<5000  years  B.P)   -­‐intensification  of  agriculture   -­‐less  reliance  on  hunting  and  gathering   -­‐more  domesticates  (could  divide  up  jobs,  crafts  and  trades  people,  hunters)   -­‐more  and  larger  settlements   -­‐metal  technology   -­‐more  sophisticated  trade  networks   -­‐forests  were  cut,  fields  were  cleared,  pastures  were  grained,  canals  were   excavated,       Environmental  Impacts  of  Hunting  and  Gathering  from  Early  Societies     1)  Impact  of  fire     a)New  Zealand-­‐  bracken  fern  is  an  edible  staple  food  that  needs  sun,  they   burned  evergreen  forests  and  converted  it  to  shrubs  and  grassland,  40  species  of   birds  extinct.   b)Tasmania-­‐  occupied  by  forest,  now     c)England-­‐  fires  were  set  in  forests  for  the  hurd     2)  Impact  of  hunting     a)  Pleistocene  Overkill  12000-­‐  10000  BP,  200  genera  of  edible  mammal   herbivores  >50  kg  extinct.  The  result  of  hunters  getting  into  a  new  environment  and   annihilating  it.  Is  it  coincidental  that  climate  change  happened  when  all  these  lives   were  lost?       3)  Impact  of  gathering     a)  population  was  too  small  to  have  a  major  impact,  if  we  did  impact,  it  would   be  a  local  thing,  tiniest  of  stress,  nomadic,  small  and  stable  population     *Agricultural  societies  are  characterized  by  the  cultivation  of  domesticated  plants   and  animals  for  human  use.   Domestication:  the  controlling  of  the  genetics  of  a  plant  or  animal  population  by  the   planned  selection  of  plant  seeds  and  animals’  parents;  the  process  by  which  plant   and  animal  species  come  to  depend  on  humans  with  practical  or  other  benefits.   Why  agriculture?   -­‐more  sustainable         Types  of  Agricultural  societies   Agricultural  societies  are  characterized  by  the  cultivations  of  domesticated  plants   and  animals  for  human  use.       1) Pastoral  Nomadism:  early  form  of  agriculture  that  required  mobility   -­‐rotational  grazing  of  herbivores,  1-­‐5  year  cycling,  have  animals  graze  in  one   area  then  move  them  to  the  next  area   -­‐natural  variability  of  resources  in  a  resource-­‐limited  environment  (and  carrying   capacity)   semi-­‐arid  landscapes   ABSOLUTELY  sustainable.  Grass  land  (ecosystem)  would  be  restored  as  cattle   moved  to  next  spot  .   Environmental  impacts:  spewing  methane,  burn  the  grass,  kill  herbivore   predators  so  that  cattle  could  have  ground   Cultural  value:  the  more  cattle  you  have,  the  richer  you  appear   Problem:  population  of  people  and  cattle  built  up  to  a  point  where  it  was   impossible  to  restore  ground,  over  grazing,  reduces  vitality  of  grass,  exposes  soil   to  wind  and  rain  (positive  feedback,  water  washes  away  nutrients),  carrying   capacity  is  low-­‐  number  of  organisms  that  can  be  sustained  by  the  environment   Solution:  create  new  breeds  of  cattle  that  don’t  need  as  much  water  or  food  to   put  on  weight-­‐promblem:  number  of  cattle  is  status  symbol  therefore,  if  they   don’t  need  as  much  food,  the  poor  can  afford  more  cattle-­‐  over  stocking  with   cattle,  which  require  fewer  resources,  build  a  well,  encourage  sedentary   farming-­‐problem-­‐  changes  culture  to  sit  down  farmers,  new  types  of  food     2) Shifting  Cultivation   -­‐wet  tropical  forest,  aka  slash  and  burn,  aka  swidden   -­‐removing  (burning)  bit  of  forest  and  planting  crops  as  long  as  the  soil  is   nutrient  rich  (2-­‐3  years)  then  move  on  to  somewhere  else   impacts:  takes  longer  for  a  mature  tropical  forest  to  return  to  mature  state  for   the  ecosystem  dependent  on  it  (30-­‐40  years),  clearing-­‐  erosion,  sometimes  it  is   hard  to  control  a  fire,   -­‐burning  trees  creates  nutrients  to  help  agriculture  to  grow     After  1800:     Increased  food  demand  from  population  growth   Positive  feed  back  because  of  industrial  revolution   Increased  demand  for  market  crops  in  the  transition  from  subsistence  farming   to  industrial  agriculture       Subsistence  farming:   Farming  to  provide  food  primarily  for  the  farmer’s  immediate  family;  a   traditional  form  of  farming.   -­‐farming  for  survival   Industrial  farming:   Farming  for  the  purpose  of  selling  crops,  animals,  and  related  products;
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