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Thread: An example of man's ancient impact on the environment

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    ☥ Self-proclaimed Tree Hugger, Yogi wannabe, spiritual Celtaur's Avatar
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    Nature, Environment, Healing, Holistic An example of man's ancient impact on the environment


    Environmentalism is a hot topic. How much or how little we really impact the world is up for debate. Here's an article I found interesting about interconnectivity of ancient man, animal and environment.

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Ancient hunters who stalked the world's last woolly mammoths likely helped warm the Earth's far northern latitudes thousands of years before humans began burning fossil fuels, according to a study of prehistoric climate change.

    The demise of the leaf-chomping woolly mammoths contributed to a proliferation of dwarf birch trees in and around the Arctic, darkening a largely barren, reflective landscape and accelerating a rise in temperatures across the polar north, researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science concluded.

    The northward march of vegetation affected the climate because of the "albedo effect," in which replacement of white snow and ice with darker land surfaces absorbs more sunlight and creates a self-repeating warming cycle, the study found.

    The end of the last Ice Age, marked by a worldwide rise in temperatures and the dramatic retreat of glaciers that once covered much of the Northern Hemisphere, was already under way when the extinction of woolly mammoths began.

    But the latest findings, scheduled to be published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal, suggest human activity played a role in altering Earth's climate long before mankind began burning coal and oil for energy, though the effects of prehistoric hunting were minute by comparison.

    FIRST HUMAN IMPACT ON CLIMATE

    If mammoth hunters helped hasten Arctic warming, that would potentially be the first such human impact on climate, preceding that caused by ancient farmers, Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and a co-author of the study, said on Tuesday.

    With the advent of agriculture about 7,000 years ago at more southern latitudes, humans are believed to have modified the climate through deforestation and cultivation of new plants, he said.

    The earlier climate consequences of declining mammoth populations were extremely subtle.

    The flourishing of plant life as the voracious, vegetarian beasts were disappearing about 15,000 years ago helped warm the Arctic and boreal regions in what is now Siberia and North America by 0.2 degrees Celsius over a period of several centuries, though certain spots saw a temperature rise of up to 1 degree Celsius, the study found.

    Ancient human-caused warming was tiny compared to modern-day warming, in which the Earth's temperature has risen about 0.74 degrees Celsius (1.33 degrees F) since the start of the 20th century, with temperatures rising at least twice as fast in the Arctic, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    The research attributes about a fourth of the Arctic's vegetation-driven warming to the decline of the woolly mammoth. If human hunters helped kill off the large mammals, they bear some responsibility for warming the climate, the scientists concluded.

    "We're not saying this was a big effect," Field said. "The point of the paper isn't that this is a big effect. But it's a human effect."

    The study analyzed pollen records in sediments of lakes in Alaska, Siberia and Canada's Yukon Territory. Through those records, scientists were able to reconstruct forest growth in what was once woolly mammoth habitat.

    The scientists also analyzed behavior of African elephants, the modern analog to the woolly mammoth, which knock down trees as they dine on the leaves that they prefer to less-nutritious grasses.

    The Earth already was warming at the time when mammoths were disappearing, but there is evidence that dramatic growth of vegetation in the far North followed the large animals' demise rather than preceded it, Field said.

    "What we tried to do was say how much of the tree increase was due to the extinction of mammoths," he said.

    It was not possible, however, to quantify how much of the extinction was due to human hunting, he said. Whether hunters ultimately pushed mammoths over the brink remains a subject of scientific debate, he said.

    If humans did kill off the mammoths, "I'm sure they didn't have anything but a very local picture of what they were doing," Field said.

    (Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/1...imate_mammoths
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    Initiate Blank Rune's Avatar
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    Default Re: An example of man's ancient impact on the environment


    Probably not the best case for human impact on the environment. I'm one who doesn't buy the over-hunting theory

    In my opinion, there just were not enough humans to over-hunt anything that had a robust fertility rate. If the mammoth's fertility rate was so low that humans could knock them off, it would seem that nature was phasing them out anyway and at best man just helped in the process.

    Remember that we are talking about people that were living off the land, who were (in my mind) not much different than the native american indians in the way of taking only what they needed to survive. It wasn't like they were setting up shops to sell tusks or mammoth rugs for the front of their fireplaces back in their 4 room log cabins. Besides, everyone knows that the very first humans preferred bare hard wood floors with a nice dark walnut stain (without any rugs at all). They liked to wear their rugs as this was the fashion statement at the time. Green was in and anymore than one mammoth rug suit just wasn't cool. I believe that when they noticed that the mammoth population was dropping they switched over to the smaller furry creatures for those needs and that's when they discovered how much more comfortable and stylish the new suits, blankets...actually were. So much so that they felt really sexy and the human fertility rate like doubled and well because their favorite food was BBQ mammoth ribs, ribeye...anyway, the "baby-boom" caused more hungry mouths to feed and so man simply helped nature to phase out the mammoths.

    Back to Blank Rune's low fertility rate theory...when the fertility rate of any group drops low enough, that group will vanish from the face of the earth. You know, kind of like the "non-muslim" or "original" Germans/Europeans. They will be replaced by some other group that has a much higher fertility rate like in the case of the Europeans their replacement will be the muslims weighing in at an impressive fertility rate of almost 9
    It takes something like 2.1 in order to keep your group on the planet and the "original" Europeans have been much lower than that for so long that in the case of Germany it is now irreversible...so unless there is some kind of serious help coming , a miracle about to occur , or some powerful magic ...they're out of here.

    So what do mammoths and Germans have in common? Well, if you buy my theory the fertility rate dropped too low for too long

    Good news is that it is not too late for most of the other countries in the world
    If you are muslim, don't worry! If you are not muslim, you may want to get your rabbit skin suits, skirts, blankets...and whatever makes you feel sexy and get busy

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    Initiate Haruth's Avatar
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    Default Re: An example of man's ancient impact on the environment


    BlankRune

    I suppose the truth might be somewhere in between...
    Quote Originally Posted by BlankRune
    ...taking only what they needed to survive.
    I feel instinctively that this would almost certainly be the case. But, as your excellent theory proposes, if the reproduction rate of the mammoth was naturally low, then a significant impact may have been caused, at the local level at least.

    For me, there are far too many unknowns for any study of this kind to be a reasonable reflection of what really happened, the root causes and effects.

    I'm not entirely sure, either, who is supposed to benefit from this study. Is it "Man made climate change always happened - nothing to see here, move along", or "Man made climate change has always been a destructive thing - we need to stop now!"?

    What I really want to know, is that in 10,000 years time, will they be finding Germans frozen in the ice? And did mammoth low fertility have economic factors as its cause too?

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    Initiate Blank Rune's Avatar
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    Default Re: An example of man's ancient impact on the environment


    Quote Originally Posted by Haruth View Post
    BlankRune

    I suppose the truth might be somewhere in between...
    I feel instinctively that this would almost certainly be the case. But, as your excellent theory proposes, if the reproduction rate of the mammoth was naturally low, then a significant impact may have been caused, at the local level at least.
    Thank you, I thought you might enjoy it.

    For me, there are far too many unknowns for any study of this kind to be a reasonable reflection of what really happened, the root causes and effects.

    I'm not entirely sure, either, who is supposed to benefit from this study. Is it "Man made climate change always happened - nothing to see here, move along", or "Man made climate change has always been a destructive thing - we need to stop now!"?
    Same here, these types of studies seem to just "rattle the cages" and offer "worthless information" to those who accept it and "parrot" it to others without really thinking about it.
    There are way too many people out there who confuse themselves by filling their heads with the noise of worthless information.

    What I really want to know, is that in 10,000 years time, will they be finding Germans frozen in the ice? ...
    Look Mohammad!!! Frozen infidels!!!

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