Our hunter-gatherer future: Climate change, agriculture and uncivilization

| December 19, 2019 | Leave a Comment

A burning earth

File: Download

Media Type: Article - Recent

Year of Publication: 2020

Author(s): John Growdy

Journal: Futures

Categories: , ,

For most of human history, about 300,000 years, we lived as hunter gatherers in sustainable, egalitarian communities of a few dozen people. Human life on Earth, and our place within the planet’s biophysical systems, changed dramatically with the Holocene, a geological epoch that began about 12,000 years ago. An unprecedented combination of climate stability and warm temperatures made possible a greater dependence on wild grains in several parts of the world. Over the next several thousand years, this dependence led to agriculture and large-scale state societies. These societies show a common pattern of expansion and collapse. Industrial civilization began a few hundred years ago when fossil fuel propelled the human economy to a new level of size and complexity. This change brought many benefits, but it also gave us the existential crisis of global climate change. Climate models indicate that the Earth could warm by 3°C-4 °C by the year 2100 and eventually by as much as 8 °C or more. This would return the planet to the unstable climate conditions of the Pleistocene when agriculture was impossible. Policies could be enacted to make the transition away from industrial civilization less devastating and improve the prospects of our hunter-gatherer descendants. These include aggressive policies to reduce the long-run extremes of climate change, aggressive population reduction policies, rewilding, and protecting the world’s remaining indigenous cultures.

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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • Arnold Byron

    To Greeley,
    Let me begin by selecting this sentence from your comment: “We have a choice, as individuals, and not waiting for the long reach of an impersonal far away government, to save the planet and our offspring by simply using contraception and limiting our families to one child (on average).” My ‘Plan for the Nations’ is built around regulated population reduction and the use of contraceptives. In order to reduce the population each mother will be allowed to have only one child. After the population has been reduced to where it can be maintained then each mother will be able to have two children.

    For reduction: after one child the mother will be fitted for an IUD and the father will be given a vasectomy. For maintenance: after two children the mother will be fitted for an IUD and the father will be given a vasectomy.

    We are in overshoot now. When we reduce the population to the point where we are no longer in overshoot mankind will be able to have two children per family, forever. I believe that after a regulated reduction program has been initiated It will not be long before it is accepted. No one, not even the rich and powerful, will be allowed to have more than two child births. This is how it will have to be, forever; This became the fate of mankind as soon as the population went into overshoot.

    A global office is central to my ‘Plan for the Nations’. Overpopulation and other existential problems are all global in scope. We need a global office to coordinate all of the different programs that will be needed to resolve the planetary problems facing humanity.

  • Greeley Miklashek

    Today, we are 3,000 times as many as our ancestral Hunter-Gatherer migratory clans/bands numbered. 1% of the land-based vertebrate biomass is all that’s left of “wild” vertebrates. 1%. 99% is us and our food animals. We suffer from all of the myriad and rapidly increasing “diseases of civilization” due to population density stress: crowding, alienation from nature, loss of the clan/band social unit, and chronic stress from our stressor filled man-made physical environment. We have a choice, as individuals, and not waiting for the long reach of an impersonal far away government, to save the planet and our offspring by simply using contraception and limiting our families to one child (on average). This alone will bring our worldwide population back down to the 1950 level of a barely sustainable 2.5B by 2,100.

    55% of American adults currently suffer from one or more serious chronic medical conditions, as do 80% of us over 50. Were it not for $4T of heroic medical care annually, we would nearly all be dead. 1/3 entering college freshmen are already taking anti-depressants and 1/4 of all adult American women! 1/6 couples in the US and many large cities all over the world are infertile and that number is 100% higher than just 34 years ago. Sperm counts in the West have fallen 59% over the past 38 years. We are very sick and getting sicker due to population density stress. Don’t believe me? Read “Stress R Us” at Amazon Books or as a free PDF in the “library” here at MAHB. Good Luck!

    • Arnold Byron

      To Greeley,
      Let me begin by selecting this sentence from your comment: “We have a choice, as individuals, and not waiting for the long reach of an impersonal far away government, to save the planet and our offspring by simply using contraception and limiting our families to one child (on average).” My ‘Plan for the Nations’ is built around regulated population reduction and the use of contraceptives. In order to reduce the population each mother will be allowed to have only one child. After the population has been reduced to where it can be maintained then each mother will be able to have two children.

      For reduction: after one child the mother will be fitted for an IUD and the father will be given a vasectomy. For maintenance: after two children the mother will be fitted for an IUD and the father will be given a vasectomy.

      We are in overshoot now. When we reduce the population to the point where we are no longer in overshoot mankind will be able to have two children per family, forever. I believe that after a regulated reduction program has been initiated It will not be long before it is accepted. No one, not even the rich and powerful, will be allowed to have more than two child births. This is how it will have to be, forever; This became the fate of mankind as soon as the population went into overshoot.

      A global office is central to my ‘Plan for the Nations’. Overpopulation and other existential problems are all global in scope. We need a global office to coordinate all of the different programs that will be needed to resolve the planetary problems facing humanity.

      • Greeley Miklashek

        Hi Arnold! Happy Holidays to you and yours! I believe you and I have had this conversation before, but your “Plan for the Nations” demands a totalitarian state as was recently instituted in China, with some success in preventing 300M additional births, until it was scrapped due to central state managers’ concern about the demographic consequences and shrinking labor force. I guess “degrowth” was not in their planning books! I may be overly optimistic, but I believe, after a 42 year medical practice, that properly informed parents will choose to limit their reproduction to one child. They just need to know this: Population Density Stress is killing us NOW, through all of our “diseases of civilization”, none of which are found in traditional living physically active, sparsely populated Hunter-Gatherer clans/bands.

        I get a constant stream of rejection from my fellow physicians (and others!), who have dismissed my “simple theory” out of hand and without bothering to read my book, except for one of my 88yo med school prof’s, who responded, after reading the book twice: “I loved it! Now, I see the world clearly!” If it weren’t for rejection, otherwise, I wouldn’t get any attention at all! ( :)) The “diseases of civilization” that are increasingly killing us are increasing exponentially in Western “developed” massively overpopulated populations, and infertility due to increasing levels of the stress hormones “cortisol” and CRH (corticotropin releasing hormone), both of which I’ve traced in my book back to population density stress/overpopulation.

        We have a choice: population reduction and a “degrowth” economic reform or watch our offspring perish from this rapidly increasing disease and infertility epidemic. Have a great day and Holiday!

  • Arnold Byron

    The predictions for the future are dire. They don’t need to be dire. I think there is a way out of this existential predicament.. I have been blogging at MAHB for some time. I have written often about a plan that I have developed that will help mankind to reach safety. I have named this plan “A Plan for the Nations”. Nobody seems to want to pay any attention to this plan.

    The plan is based on the idea that the problems are global and that the need is for a global office to coordinate all of the solutions worldwide. The global office will have to be created by the nations of the world. This office will have to be in addition to the United Nations. This is because the global office will be limited in scope and will be created to find solutions to the existential problems of global warming, overpopulation, the hazards of nuclear energy and the hazards of plastics degradation. The United Nations will continue to do its good works.

    The nations will need help in getting together to create a global office. The only nonpolitical group, I can think of, that can possibly reach out to all of the nations and convince and help them to join together to create a global office is an association of all of the colleges and universities worldwide. The problem is that no such association exists. It will take a lot of pushing and screaming to get university presidents and regents to take on the job of creating an association of colleges and universities. However, once created, the association of colleges and universities will be able to write all of the treaties, agreements, rules and laws that will be needed to allow all of the nations to become one group (confederation) and to help them set up the global office and to make sure the nations will provide all of the wherewithal, security and protection that the global office will need to do its operations.

    The global office will be a committee of twelve people who have been elected, and who will be in charge of an operations office that will be in charge of thousands of local offices everywhere in the world. The operations office will be a committee of twelve people who also have been elected. The local offices, everywhere in the world, will be staffed by people who have been hired. The job of these local people will be to carry out the orders from the higher offices. Orders will be about projects and programs that are to be done on the local level to increase the amount of local electricity production, to reduce the amount of fossil fuel use, to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, to teach regenerative agriculture practices and to provide and manage the means of population reduction. The staffs at these local offices will be the connection between the local people and the higher offices. The global office will coordinate ideas, new and old, that when given to the local offices, will be executed and completed.

    Whenever one thinks about population reduction one thinks about eugenics and genocide. I have built as many safeguards into “My Plan for the Nations” as possible in order to prevent any attempt to use eugenics for any reason. Safeguards are also there to protect from any attempt by any person to become king of the globe or some kind of dictator.

    Look at these links for details.
    https://www.ofpopulationandpollution.com/uncategorized/46/
    https://mahb.stanford.edu/?s=A+Plan+for+the+Nations