Clark Spencer Larsen form the Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, has recenty published a paper in
Quaternary International outlining how agriculture was impacting on the environment, including climate, 10,000 years ago.
Titled, ‘The agricultural revolution as environmental catastrophe: Implications for health and lifestyle in the Holocene’ its conclusions include:
“Most of us are well aware of the dramatic changes in the Earth’s landscapes as forests give way to agricultural land, and the resulting environmental degradation, loss of species, and other disasters. A common misperception is that prior to modern times, humans were much more concerned about managing their environment so as to avoid the problems that have surfaced in such a dramatic fashion in the 20th century. However, study of ancient landscapes in Mesoamerica, North America, and the Middle East
shows evidence that earlier agriculturalists had profound impacts, highly negative in some areas, on the lands they exploited.
In the Mediterranean basin, for example, nearly all landscapes were degraded or otherwise transformed in dramatic ways.
The analysis of the past reveals that the current threats to the landscape have their origins in the period of human history when plant domestication began 10,000 years (or so) ago.
Finally, once the effects on Earth’s climate by industrial-era human activities-the so-called greenhouse effect-were recognized, a number of workers assumed that it related to just the last couple of hundred years. However, new evidence of anamolous trends in CO2 and CH4 possibly owing to agricultural-related deforestation after about 8000 years ago, indicates that the negative impact involving greenhouse gases began soon after the start of agriculture.”
So organic farming is not necessarily the answer?