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Chapter 5

Chapter 5

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ANTH 1150

Chapter 5 The Evolution of Energy ProductionEnergycapturing technology refers to how people apply human labor and technology to natural resourcesFeatures of the environment consist of sunlight rainfall soil quality forests and mineral depositsDuring the time of the earliest hominids all the energy that was used came from foodthe first great step in the evolution of energy production was the creation of fire10000 years ago animals began to provide energy in the form of muscle power harnessed first to sleds and then to plows and wheeled vehiclesFossil fuels consist of materials like coal petroleum and natural gas derived from decomposed remains of prehistoric organisms over a period of hundreds of millions of yearstoday they supply 90 of all the energy consumed by industrially developed nationsnew deposits continue to be discovered but the reserves of the principal fossil fuels remaining in the earth are limitedMastery of iron and steel had to precede the development of the mining machines that made feasible the largescale use of coal oil and gas The Influence of the Environment and EcologyWe would expect fluctuations over time in the availability of resourcesActivities of other groups in competition for these resourcesIntroduction of new technology that changes the way food is producedEcological anthropology is concerned with the cultural and biological responses that affect or are affected by the survival reproduction and health and spatial distribution of human populationsEcosystems tend toward homeostatis they tend to resist change and remain in equilibriumClimatic changes like those associated with drought or flooding or leading to migration or internal conflictTechnology that is transformed or replaced by more effective tools or by the diffusion of a new food cropSocial organization that features new patterns of domestic organization or political institutionsCarrying capacity is the upper limit on production and population in a given environment under a given technology without degrading the resource basePoint of diminishing returns is the point at which the amount of food produced per unit of effort begins to fallIntensification refers to an increase in labor output ie using more people working longer hours or working faster to produce greater yields without expanding the amount of land usedThrough intensification a mode of production can be pushed far beyond the point of diminishing returns all the way to and beyond carrying capacity thereby irreversibly damaging the resource base
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