1. How does Christine Rodrigue define environmental determinism? What were
Herbert Spencer's key insights in his theory of environmental determinism? Give
one argument against environmental determinism.
Christine Rodrigue defines environmental determinism (sometimes called geographical
determinism) to be a variant of Social Darwinism: the appropriation of Darwin's theory
of natural selection for use directly on human societies, usually for racist or imperialist
apologia. The idea that the natural environment, especially climate, creates natural
selective conditions that either bring out the best in humans and create "superior" cultures
or the worst in people and create “inferior” cultures.
Herbert Spencer’s key insights were that Species/society change – factors of evolution
- Extrinsic (e.g climate, surface qualities)
- Intrinsic (e.g physical and intellectual character)
Secondary or derived (brought – social evolution itself)
- Modifications of the environment
- Size and density of the social aggregate: the more people, the more idea, more
mouths to feed, bigger armies
- Inter-societal reactions: different societies react differently. Some absorb the good
ideas while others do not.
People were shaped by their environment and they tend to shape it as well. As societies
develop, there is a feedback to the environment itself.
One argument against environmental determinism includes the "ideal" climate reflected
the climate producing a given author's culture: British authors leaned to the West Coast
marine climate; Americans favored the four season humid continental climate; and the
ancient Greeks thought their Mediterranean climate (their Temperate Zone) was the ideal
4. Why does Paul Reiter argue against the notion that malaria resurgence is due to
climate change? What are Miller and Conko's main arguments in favor of DDT?
Future changes in climate may alter the prevalence and incidence of the disease, but
obsessive emphasis on "global warming" as a dominant parameter is
indefensible; the principal determinants are linked to ecological and societal
change, politics and economics. Forest clearance, provides abundant new
habitat for these species. Agriculture require construction of dams for
hydroelectric power. Rice cultivation provides an environment for many of the
most efficient malaria vectors. Infected people in pursuit of work can introduce
malaria to areas where it is rare. Water storage and inadequate water disposal
can provide habitat for mosquitoes. In times of conflict, mass movements of
people, e.g. soldiers and refugees, often promote malaria transmission. High birth rates often give rise to larger communities with higher densities of people,
which can lead to a higher attack rate.
Miller and Conkos main arguments in favor of DDT is DDT is only minimally toxic to
humans, and spraying small quantities around the doorways and window frames
and on the walls of buildings kills and repels malarial mosquitoes, creating a
protective shield for people (Such spraying techniques minimize chemical
residues in the environment.) And because it persists after spraying, DDT is
superior to other pesticides now in use, some of which are highly toxic. Many
other insecticides lack the capacity to irritate mosquitoes, and they become
deactivated within an hour or two, making them vastly more expensive and less
useful than DDT and more potent and harmful to humans.
18. Draw Jared Diamond's schematic overview of the chains of causation leading up
to proximate historical factors from ultimate historical factors (or, in other words,
the factors underlying the broadest patterns of history). 20. According to Diamond, what are the five (5) regions of the world where we are
certain that food production arose independently? What were the main plants and
animals domesticated in three (3) of these regions?
Region Main Plants and Animals
Southwest Asia wheat, pea, olive sheep, goat
China rice, millet pig, silkworm
Mesoamerica corn, beans, turkey, squash
Andes and Amazon Basin* potato, manioc llama, guinea pig
Eastern United States sunflower
*Andes of South America, and possibly the adjacent Amazon Basin as well
23. What were the main advantages of the Fertile Crescent in terms of developing
agriculture when compared to other Mediterranean climatic zones?
The fertile crescent had a larger area which meant different topography, it had a greater
climatic variations (seasons to seasons year to year), wider range of altitudes and
topographies, larger number of potential domesticated large mammals, less competition
from hunter gatherer lifestyle than elsewhere(short coastlines, decimation of wild animals
etc) In short there were better odds The fertile crescent also had a lot of hermaphroditic
29. What are the diverse ways by which microbes spread from one person to
another, and from animals to people? Why should a germ evolve the apparently
self-defeating strategy of killing its host?
1) Wait for their hosts to be eaten by other hosts (e.g. Salmonella bacteria in meat) 2)
Hitchiking, insects to humans, In saliva of insect that bites the host and flies off to find a
new host (Malaria, plague, Typhus, Sleeping sickness) From mother to fetus(syphilis,
rubella, Aids.) 3) Modify habits of hosts to faciliatate transmission, Genital sores –
Syphilis, Skin Lesions – smallpox(through blankets), Cough sneezing- influenza and
common cold, Diarrhea – Cholera, Biting Frenzy – Rabies. 4) Attack the host directly,
Hookworms, and schistosomes.
Germs evolve the self defeating strategy the answer is that it is an unintended by product
of host symptoms promote efficient transmission of microbes.
30. How do humans physiologically cope with germs?
1) Fever, an attempt to bake germs to death. 2) Immune system, white blood cells and
other cells some immune effects are temporary or permanent(Vaccinations) the problem
is that some germs evolve not to be recognized by immune systems through their
antigens. 3) Natural selection, some people more resistant than others voluntary effect on
people repeatedly exposed to a particular pathogen. 31. What are the main characteristics of infectious diseases that visit us as
epidemics? What is the reason why these characteristics tend to make a disease run
They spread quickly and efficiently, acute illness (Individual either dies or recovers
quickly), people who recover are often immune for life, tend to be resticted to humans.
32. According to Diamond, why did agriculture launch the evolution of infectious
1) Sustains much higher population densities, 2) Good breeding ground (Use of sweage
in agriculture, Fish ponds, Farmers surrounded by disease transmitting rodents) 3)
Development of trade routes(Good for carrying diseases in people, fur, etc) 4) Diseases
among animals similarly require large and dense populations of animals.
33. What are the stages in the evolution of a specialized human disease from an
1) Diseases picked up directly from pets(domesticated animals) and skinning wild
animals (typically not contagious between humans) 2) Animal pathogens (transmitted
directly between people and causes epidemics 3) Farmer animals pathogens that did
establish themselves in humans and have not died out and may or may not still become
major killers of humanity. 4) Major long established epidemic diseases confined to
humans (Evolutionary survives of far more pathogens that tried to make the hump to us
from animals and mostly failed)
34. According to Rodolfo Acuña-Soto, what was "cocolitzli" (and what was it not)?
According to Bruce Stutz, what is Acuña-Soto's explanation of what happened in
Mexico during the epidemics of 1545 and 1576?
Coclitzli was a local hemorrhagic fever rather than old world disease, it laid dormant in
most likely rodents, Drought increased the concentration of rodents which started
spreading the infection, Rains ~ >>> rodents spread virus to humans, humans transmitted
virus to other humans.
The Epidemics of 1545 and 1576 seemed to be another disease other than smallpox and
was not related to it. The Aztecs called those outbreaks by a separate name Cocolitzli.
Acuña-Soto says. "Cocolitzli brought incomparable devastation that passed readily from
one region to the next and killed quickly." Acuña-Soto has come to agree with the
Aztecs: The cocolitzli plagues of the mid-16th century probably had nothing to do with
smallpox. In fact, they probably had little to do with the Spanish invasion.
35. According to Heather Pringle, what did the Chinchorro mummies taught us
about the vital statistics of these people?
Despite healthy conditions 25% children perished in less than 1 year, 33% infections
eroded leg bones, 20% women vertebrae so porous splintered from weight of own flesh,
Average life expectancy of 25 years.
36. What is Charles Kay's "keystone species" theory and what are its implication for the observed number of American bisons and other species in the second half of
the nineteenth century?
Native Americans were the ultimate keystone predator who once structured entire
ecosystems. Native hunting controlled the distribution and number of bison on the
northern Great Plains. The only place Lewis and Clark saw bison, and especially large
numbers, was in the center of aboriginal buffer zones between warring tribes. if it had
not been for warring tribes and buffer zones, there would have been few bison anywhere
in North America. Thus, optimal-foraging theory would predict that when native people
entered aboriginal buffer zones, they should have concentrated their hunting on the larger
species, such as bison and elk
37. According to Robert Nelson, how did the rinderpest epidemics affect Southeast
Africa's ecosystems a century ago? How does it still affect our current perception of
- Humans (smallpox), but >> impact on animal population
- Late 19 C Rinderpest plague (1889-early 1900’s)
- Killed 90% to 95% of cattle (also affected sheep and goats)
- Population dependent on cattle decimated (66% of Maasai in Tanzania might
- Many areas, rinderpest also virtually wiped out
o Small antelopes
- Entire populations lost sustenance
- Whole ecosystems transformed
- >>> Tsetse flies by reversal of grasslands into dense fields and thickets. - Hordes of tsetse flies X00 000 victims…
(For Centuries, Africans transformed environment to control flies)
- More immune to tsetse fly than domestic cattle
o Bounced back early 20 Century
o A lot more abundant than before
- Images of “wild” Africa
38. According to Michael Coe, what are the traditional and currently controversial
view of the past inhabitants of the Amazon and Orinoco basins? What is the main
evidence put forward by the revisionists to support their argument? What do other
authors similarly argue regarding the Pre-Columbian history of the Caribbean
The inhabitants of the amazon and orincoco basin did not always live in only small
groups, because the very first Europeans to explore the Amazon saw extensive towns
along the river systems, with very large populations. Centuries later, the agriculturalists
and hunters in the Amazon and Orinoco described by anthropologists are only the tattered
survivors of the great demographic disaster that struck all of the hemisphere's indigenous
peoples with the introduction of European epidemic diseases such as smallpox and
measles. Testifying to their vanished complexity are the extensive raised-field patterns
that can be seen from the air in the now-denuded Beni region of eastern Bolivia and in
the densely occupied towns of the Marajoara culture, which flourished for almost a
millennium on a huge island in the mouth of the Amazon. As Mann argues, we can now
view the early Indians of the Americas not as prisoners of their environment but as
managers of it.
39. What is terra preta? How much of the Amazonian basin is it thought by some
researchers to cover? What are its main characteristics according to some
Terra Preta: 10% Amazonia, size of france
Black earth-like anthropogenic soil with enhanced fertility due to
- High levels of soil organic matter (SOM)
- Nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium
Embedded in a landscape of infertile soils 40. What use did Charles Kay make of the Lewis and Clark journals? What was his
main conclusion regarding the areas in which wildlife thrived at the time of the
Researching the Lewis and Clark expedition 200 years ago, provide insight to the western
United States before the white man came. "They represent conditions out here in the
West prior to direct influence of Europeans." Kay used the journals to identify what was
lost and what did the two explorers find. Kay constructed a timeline of their journal using
their wildlife observations to see what they found and reported as they moved west to the
Pacific from the Mississippi River and St. Louis and then returned. As Lewis and Clark
approached areas inhabited by Native Americans, the wildlife numbers would drop off.
As they left the inhabited areas, wildlife numbers would increase. Kay said the greatest
wildlife numbers appeared to be in buffer zones between warring tribes. If it had not been
for buffer zones, Lewis and Clark would have found little wildlife anywhere in the West.
Kay's research demonstrates that humans were the apex predator in the pre-Columbian
41. According to Clark Erickson, what is the "myth of the pristine environment"?
How does it relate to biodiversity? According to William Cronon, what is the "myth
of wilderness"? In his opinion, how natural is wilderness (and what does he mean by
The myth of wilderness,” is that we can somehow leave nature untouched by our passage.
In his opinion “Wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is all the more
beguiling because it seems so natural,” he says. By glorifying pristine landscapes, which
exist only in the imagination of romantics, Western conservationists divert attention from
the places where people live and the choices they make every day that do true damage to
the natural world of which they are part.
42. What are the three (3) basic strategies underlying writing systems? What were
the two (2) main ways by which writing was diffused?
The 3 basic strategies underlying writing systems 1) Alphabet single basic sound, Unique
sign, 2) Logograms(one written sign stands for a whole word) 3) Syllabaries(use a sign
for each syllabil. The 2 main ways by which writing was diffused 1) blueprint copying
(copy/modify available detailed print) 2) Idea diffusion (Basic Idea; reinvent details)
43. According to Diamond, what are the four (4) main factors influencing the
acceptance of new technologies? What does he mean when he says that the history of
technology was an autocatalytic process?
1) Advantage over alternatives 2) social value and prestige 3) compatibility with vested
interests 4) ease of seeing advantages. Technology's history exemplifies what is termed
an autocatalytic process: that is, one that speeds up at a rate that increases with
time,because the process catalyzes itself advances depend upon prevuous mastery of
simpler problems, New technologies and materials make it possible to generate still other new technologies by recomination. TECHNOLOGY BEGETS more technology, the
importance of an invention's diffusion potentially exceeds the importance of the original
44. According to Diamond, what are the factors involving economics or the
organization of society that explain differences in receptivity to new ideas and
technologies among societies? Explain each briefly.
1) Cheap slave labor (No need for technology if you have slave labor what would the
slaves do) 2) Patents and property laws3) opportunities and technical training 4) Financial
rewards to invention 5) individualism financial rewards not divided among all relatives.
45. According to Diamond, how does life expectancy affect the differences in
receptivity to new ideas and technologies among societies? What ideological reasons
also play a role in this respect?
Life expectancy – Life experience and time to embark on adventures.
Ideological reasons Risk taking behaviour, scientific outlook, tolerance of diverse views,
46. According to Diamond, what are the four (4) factors that sometimes stimulate
technological advances, and sometimes inhibit them?
1) Axis 2) Time and onset of food production 3) Barriers to diffusion 4) human
47. How does Diamond distinguish bands, tribes, chiefdoms and states in terms of
Number of people: dozens
Settlement pattern: nomadic