Our Changing Environment

Early human intervention

Beginnings of agriculture


Throughout most of human history we have lived as hunter-gatherers and our imact on nature was relatively minimal. As both our numbers and knowledge increased however we have had correspondingly increased impact upon the world that surrounds us, as we cleared land by felling trees and burning off vegetation to create a landscape more suitable for the hunting and agriculture that was so necessary to our survival. Greater numbers meant greater need for food; a cunning animal like a human could hunt in packs and use weapons so slower, more vulnerable species were destroyed or forced to adapt through evolution into faster, fiercer or more furtive beasts. Eventually we leaned how to farm animals and then how to breed into them those characteristics that we desired; calmness, docility, an ability to grow quickly and provide the maximum amount of meat in return for the minimum amount of whatever feedstuffs were available.

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We had to compete with wildlife for both food and living space; our intellect often made the results of our struggles a foregone conclusion. Finally, as our numbers increased still further, we moved into cities and covered over large areas of land whilst extracting large quantities of water from the local eco-system to use for our own purposes. This settled existence meant that instead of roaming over the land, collecting food from different locations in proportion to our needs only, we began to intensively cultivate the land around our cities which soon became exhausted; the lack of vegetation and natural water supply allowed soil erosion and local climate change to take place - and the deserts started to spread. Our impact on wildlife was well under way.


Beginnings of industry


Climate change


What can we do?



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