APES Chapter 2 Environmental History: An overview
Cultural Changes and Sustainability • What major Human Cultural Changes have taken place? • Age of our solar system - 4.6 billion years • Homo sapiens sapienshave been on Earth for 60,000 years
Hunters and Gatherers • Until about 12,000 years ago we moved as needed to find food for survival. • Survived through expert knowledge of their natural surroundings • Had only three energy sources: • 1. the sun • 2. fire • 3. their own muscle power • Lived sustainably through low resource use per person and working with nature in small groups • Advanced hunter-gatherers had a greater impact on their environment.
The Agricultural Revolution • Began 10,000 to 12,000 years ago • Involved a gradual transition from nomadic hunting lifestyle to a lifestyle based on a community where people domesticated wild animals and plants • Initially involved subsistence farming (growing only enough to feed your individual family)
The first crop growing technique may have been a combination of slash-and-burn and shifting cultivation.
1 4 Clearing and burning vegetation Allowing to revegetate 10 to 30 years 2 3 Harvesting for 2 to 5 years Planting
The Agricultural Revolution • Impact on the environment included: • Use of domesticated animals to have increased energy • More reliable food source led to increase in birth rates • Large areas were cleared and irrigation systems were built • People began accumulating material goods • Farmers could grow more than just enough for their families • Urbanization became practical and prevalent
The Agricultural Revolution • Impact on the environment included: • The survival of plants and animals once vital to humanity became less important • Human population began working to tame and manage nature rather than working with nature to survive
The Industrial Revolution • Began 275 years ago (~1870s) • Production, commerce, trade and distribution of goods expanded rapidly • Shifted dependence from renewable resources to non-renewable resources • New machines were then created and large-scale production became prevalent • More food and supplies became available so the population began to grow rapidly
The Industrial Revolution • Dramatic increase in environmental impact.
Information Revolution • Current cultural shift • New technologies are enabling people to deal with more information more rapidly • The impact of this on the environment is not yet clear
Information Revolution Positive Negative • We are finding out new information on how to respond to environmental problems more effectively. • An overload of information can cause confusion and distraction as we try to identify useful environmental information.
Environmental History of the United States • Tribal Era • North America was occupied by 5-10 million tribal people for at least 10,000 years. • Native Americans generally low-impact hunter-gatherer or agricultural societies. • Most Native American cultures had a deep respect for the land and its animals and did not believe in land ownership.
Frontier Era (1607-about 1890) • European colonists began settling North America. • Frontier environmental worldview—most of the continent was wilderness full of dangerous savages and wild beasts to be conquered. • Significant environmental impact as land was cleared and plowed.
Conservation Era (1832-1960) • Concern over resource use • Preservation of public land • Public health initiatives • Environmental restoration projects
Environmental Era (1960-2000) • Science of Ecology • Spaceship Earth worldview • 1980’s: anti-environmental movement • 1990’s: environmental awareness
Important People • Henry David Thoreau • Built a cabin in the woods on Walden Pond near Concord, Mass. • Lived there alone for 2 years and wrote “Life in the Woods”, an environmental classic.
George Perkins Marsh • A scientist and member of congress • Questioned the idea that resources were inexhaustible • Formulated basic resource conservation principles we still use today.
John Muir • Founded the Sierra Club • Leader of the preservationist movement, advocating the protection of large areas of wilderness on public lands.
Theodore Roosevelt • Conservationists whose term in office was known as the “Golden Age of Conservation”. • Designated the Grand Canyon as one of the first 16 national parks. • More than tripled the size of the national forest reserves.
Rachel Carson • Wrote the book “Silent Spring” about the dangers of pesticides. • Contributed to the ban of DDT
Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century • The threat of climate change • Growing water shortages • Continuing population growth • Continuing biodiversity loss • Continuing poverty