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By J. Donald Hughes

This paintings presents a concise heritage, from historic to fashionable occasions, of the interactions among human societies and the opposite sorts of existence that inhabit our planet. It investigates the ways that environmental adjustments, frequently the results of human activities, have triggered historic has a tendency in human societies.

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Extra info for An Environmental History of the World: Humankind's Changing Role in the Community of Life (Routledge Studies in Physical Geography and Environment)

Sample text

Since they could pass quickly from say, grassland to forest, early humans encountered hundreds of species of plants. Even more impressive was the richness of animal life. Early humans hunted, gathered, dwelt, and served as prey in that nexus of constant interaction between species. Humans have never been alone on the Earth. Their lives—culture, technology, and art—have been immeasurably enriched because they learned to watch, listen to, and imitate the other animals that shared the land and sea with them.

22 Primal harmony This does not mean that peoples who lived according to the primal tradition left nature undisturbed. They had a visible effect on their environments. The kangaroos in aboriginal Australia, for example, were doubtless swifter and more wary animals because skilled hunters killed the slower and less alert ones. 36 Gatherers removed some species, but also may have scattered the seeds of desirable plants to encourage their growth. ”37 Some of the largest animals became extinct within the context both of hunting and a changing climate.

Contemplation of the many ways in which interaction with them made us what we are can show us again that we are members of the great community of life, and are not exempt from the principles that govern it. The boundaries of human history, like those of many species, are permeable. At the beginning of their story, humans needed the animals, plants, and natural elements that sustained life and challenged their creativity. From the times of gathering and scavenging, through hunting and dawning agriculture, humans adapted to the environment even as they changed it, and maintained a dynamic balance with it.

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