ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2011) — The Roman Conquest, the Black Death and the discovery of America — by modifying the nature of the forests — have had a significant impact on the environment. These are the findings of EPFL scientists who have researched our long history of emitting carbon into the environment.
“Humans didn’t wait for the industrial revolution to provoke environment and climate change. They have been having an influence for at least 8000 years.” Jed Kaplan is putting forward a new interpretation of the history of humans and their environment. This professor at EPFL and his colleague Kristen Krumhardt have developed a model that demonstrates the link between population increase and deforestation. The method enables a fairly precise estimate of human-origin carbon emissions before the advent of industrialization.
The story of our influence on the climate began with the first farmers. At that time, the prevailing technology didn’t allow an optimal use of the soil. “For each individual, it was necessary to clear a very large area of forest,” explains Jed Kaplan. However, with time, irrigation, better tools, seeds and fertilizer became more efficient. This development was a critical factor, which would partially counterbalance the increase in population, and contain the impact of human pressure on the natural environment.
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