New PDF release: An Environmental History of the World: Humankind's Changing

By J. Donald Hughes

This paintings offers a concise background, from historic to trendy occasions, of the interactions among human societies and the opposite types of existence that inhabit our planet. It investigates the ways that environmental alterations, frequently the results of human activities, have triggered historic has a tendency in human societies.

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Extra info for An Environmental History of the World: Humankind's Changing Role in the Community of Life (Routledge Studies in Physical Geography and Environment)

Example text

The Serengeti: kinship of humans with other forms of life Floating above the Maasai Mara in a hot air balloon, as I did early one morning, affords a wide prospect of the mosaic of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. The number and variety of large animals visible from the air amazed me. Someone who had seen this Edenic remnant of the Pleistocene fauna in earlier decades might have noticed some diminution since then, but I could not complain of any lack of abundance. The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem embraces an area of 26,000 sq km (10,000 sq mi) in Tanzania and Kenya.

Some species became extinct while others evolved. There were those that, like beavers and termites, greatly altered their environments over large areas. But changes prepared the way for new forms of life. Life was sustainable and, above all, abundant. The air thronged with billions of birds, compared to which the present avian population is a sad remnant. The plains themselves must have seemed to move with herds of herbivores, followed by their predators. Schools of fish silvered the sea, while the great whales rejoiced in numbers unseen in more modern times.

Agriculture enabled an increase and concentration in human populations; farming villages were generally larger than hunting settlements. But the conditions of life for human individuals did not ordinarily improve. 47 Being more crowded, they were more subject to communicable diseases. Without necessarily choosing to do so, the farmers had sacrificed health, physique, and life expectancy for numbers and greater security of the group. Still, they made relatively few negative impacts on the environment.

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