Deforesting the Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis, An by Michael Williams

By Michael Williams

“Anyone who doubts the facility of historical past to notify the current should still learn this heavily argued and sweeping survey. this is often wealthy, well timed, and sobering historic fare written in a measured, non-sensationalist type through a grasp of his craft. One basically hopes (almost definitely vainly) that today’s policymakers take its classes to heart.”—Brian Fagan, Los Angeles Times 

Published in 2002, Deforesting the Earth was a landmark examine of the historical past and geography of deforestation. Now on hand as an abridgment, this version keeps the breadth of the unique whereas rendering its arguments obtainable to a basic readership.  

Deforestation—the thinning, altering, and wholesale clearing of forests for gas, defend, and agriculture—is one of the most vital methods people have reworked the surroundings. Surveying 10000 years to track human-induced deforestation’s influence on economies, societies, and landscapes world wide, Deforesting the Earth is the preeminent historical past of this approach and its consequences. 

Beginning with the go back of the forests after the ice age to Europe, North the US, and the tropics, Michael Williams strains the influence of human-set fires for collecting and looking, land clearing for agriculture, and different actions from the Paleolithic age in the course of the classical global and the medieval interval. He then makes a speciality of woodland clearing either inside of Europe and by means of ecu imperialists and industrialists in a foreign country, from the 1500s to the early 1900s, in such locations because the New global, India, and Latin the US, and considers indigenous clearing in India, China, and Japan.  ultimately, he covers the present alarming escalation of deforestation, with our ever-increasing human inhabitants putting a very likely unsupportable burden at the world’s forests.

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Additional info for Deforesting the Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis, An Abridgment

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In many societies there was, and is, a seamless continuity between the two, the distinction decreasing the nearer one comes to the present. In reality, both used fire, the foragers almost certainly more than the farmers. Nevertheless, it is a convenient distinction which underlines a particular emphasis in the subsequent account. 1 With fire humans accomplished the first great ecological transformation of the earth, to be followed much later by two others of the same order of magnitude: the development of agriculture and animal husbandry 10,000 years ago, and the rise of large-scale industrial production a little less than 200 years ago.

At least 14 species of large lemur, large avifauna, aardvark, and pygmy hippopotamus became extinct in the western forests. ” (Source: R. G. Cochrane, “The Impact of Man on the Natural Biota,” in New Zealand in Maps, ed. A. G. Anderson and D. ” (Source: R. G. Cochrane, “The Impact of Man on the Natural Biota,” in New Zealand in Maps, ed. A. G. Anderson and D. ) Fire and Foragers 21 grasslands and in forested lands. The extinction spasm was over by circa ad 900, when hunting-gathering was replaced by cattle pastoralism and swidden farming, known as tavy, both maintained through the succeeding centuries by an endless cycle of fire.

All this says nothing about the process and timing of domestication. Far from there being a single, simple path of progression from huntergather to sedentary agriculturalist, there were many pathways. 6 For example, starting from huntingcollecting bands (system A) in stage 1 at the top of the diagram, it is possible to reach the ultimate stage 3 of the agricultural villager (system E), through the transitional stage 2, via a variety of different and even crisscrossing routes (1–17) and their associated different intermediate systems.

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