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The Spread of People, Agriculture, and Disease Essay

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The Spread of People, Agriculture, and Disease

It is obvious that as humans have traveled and exploited the world for their own purposes, their actions have had drastic effects on the environment as they deforest the land and introduce foreign flora and fauna to different ecosystems that may not be able to cope with them. What is not as obvious is that as humans have affected the environment, so the environment has also affected humans. While humans have settled down and chosen an agriculturalist, sedentary lifestyle over the semi-nomadic life of the hunter-gatherer, they have become susceptible to a barrage of diseases that have adapted specifically to afflict human beings. Because we, as humans, have come to believe that we completely dominate our environment, we find it hard to accept that perhaps the environment can also affect us in ways that may be out of our control. However, I think that the complimentary effects of humans and the environment on each other are important facts to explore and understand in order for coexistence to continue.

Several millennia ago, there were certain groups of humans (mainly in Eurasia) who believed that an agricultural lifestyle was more desirable and would increase chances of survival more so than the hunter-gatherer way of life that had been in existence for millions of years. With the rise of agriculture came the domestication of the ‘farm’ animals – for example, pigs and cows (dogs had been domesticated well before these other animals). Farmers and herders began to need more land for their crops and animals, as well as for their offspring who also became farmers and herders, and so they expanded their territories. This territorial expansion continuousl...


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...man travel and trade. I think that although it is theoretically possible to change the factors that allow the destruction of the Earth and the rise of diseases, it is actually impossible to achieve the sustainability and health of the human race. However, by understanding the complimentary effects of each on the other, I think that it is possible to alter our behaviors in such ways that problems in both directions can be greatly reduced.

Works Cited

Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel. New York: W.W. Norton & Comp., 1999.

Ponting, Clive. A Green History of the World. New York: Penguin, 1993.

Schneider, Jane. Rumpelstiltskin’s Bargain: Folklore and the Merchant Capitalist Intensification of Linen Manufacture in Early Modern Europe. From Cloth and Human Experience, ed. Annette Weiner and Jane Schneider. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993.


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