Did Our Ancestors Live in Harmony with the Environment?

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Did Our Ancestors Live in Harmony with the Environment?

It appears that humans are entering a stage in their collective lives in which we are beginning to see that we can quite easily alter our environments very drastically. Some are still divided about how they feel about this, feeling that things cannot possibly be as bad as the many doomsday-scenarios painted by both scientific and religious authorities. And there are others who are extremely worried about our collective affect on the environment, and fear that it may already be too late for humans, and the world will soon change sufficiently enough to make continued human survival on this planet very difficult. From both types of people, the question arises, "Was there ever a time when humans lived in a way that was more or less in harmony with the environment?"

A key element in this discussion is the use of technology, loosely defined as anything outside of natural biological functions that is manipulated and used to obtain an objective. To search for a time when our ancestors might have lived more environmentally consciously, one needs evidence, and in this case, it is generally thought that the only real evidence to be found is through fossils of things created and used by these people of so long ago. But how far back in time are we talking about? And is there any other kind of evidence that might shed a bit of light on how people lived in those times?

It is generally acknowledged that starting with our ancestor Homo erectus, humans began to use their hands to make tools (Ponting, 18). This knowledge is based on dating techniques of archaeological findings such as skeletons and early tools, and the rough estimate of the appearance of this tool-using human is around 2 million years ago. In case it is not obvious, that is a very long time. Even in the last 4000 years, the amount of change that human culture and society has undergone is enormous, and at least that much is historically documented by at least some cultures in varying intervals. But to jump all the way back to 2 million years involves a very far leap indeed. There is not much evidence that tells us anything about societies so far back in time. There are some bones and stones, but nothing that really breaks down all those thousands of years into any real understanding of the societies of that era.
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