Note — Oct 11, 2020

The Deep Anthropocene

Seen in → No.145

Source →

One of my favourite things to notice is when science and history are re-assed, re-aligned, following new methods and discoveries. This is a fascinating read on how researchers are advancing our understanding of hunter-gatherer and farmer societies, pastoralists, various subsistence strategies, when they developed, and how this affects our view of what constitutes “pristine nature,” and what has been changed.

TL;DR: things are not as clearcut as once thought, agricultural and domestication discoveries were more globally distributed and over a much longer span of time. (Have a look for example at the part on Mycenaeans in 13th century BCE 🤯.)

As “we” try to understand the full impact of humans on the planet, how things will change in coming decades, what can be done, and our hubristic naming of an epoch after ourselves, this is the kind of research which helps our understanding on the topic… and of how much is yet to be revealed.

These transitions were not linear or absolute. It’s now clear that there was usually a long continuum of exploitation, translocation and management of plants, animals, landforms and ecosystems well before (and often after) domestication occurred. […]

Humans have continually altered biodiversity on many scales. We have changed the local mix of species, their ranges, habitats and niches for thousands of years. Long before agriculture, selective human predation of many non-domesticated species shaped their evolutionary course. […]

A clear-eyed appreciation for the deep entanglement of the human and natural worlds is vital if we are to grapple with the unprecedented ecological challenges of our times. Naively romanticising a pristine Earth, on the other hand, will hold us back. Grasping that nature is inextricably linked with human societies is fundamental to the worldview of many Indigenous cultures – but it remains a novel and often controversial perspective within the natural sciences.