A study, led by Lucas Stephens of the University of Pennsylvania, has shown that humans’ impact on the environment is older that we generally think. By crowdsourcing information from local experts around the world, the study has been able to paint a more accurate picture of how the environment has changed globally.
When we think about climate change and environmental impact, we tend to focus on the post-industrial era. Major changes to the environment, however, started around 3,000 years ago. These included clearing large areas of forests, tilling and cultivating crops, and domesticating livestock. Other profound changes go even farther back. The Amazon forest has been actively cultivated by native inhabitants for over 8,000 years. Humans removed trees they didn’t find useful, and replaced them with ones they did. At least 20% of the Amazon is thought to have been “domesticated” and cultivated by local cultures throughout history.
Researchers are using this new information to better understand how human activity of all types affects the environment, and how we can work to minimize that impact.
Blaze is the founder of Redleaf Consulting. He started as a dishwasher at the age of 15, and worked his way up to Director of Marketing for a Sino-German joint venture in Jiangsu, China. He has over 25 years of experience in education, communication, and marketing.