Video: 8,050 Years of Human Impact on the Land Video: 8,050 Years of Human Impact on the Land
The Planet

Video: 8,050 Years of Human Impact on the Land

by Ben Jervey

April 12, 2011

Alexandra Witze writes about some new findings about humans' early climate meddling in Science News, saying "humans working the land put nearly 350 billion metric tons of carbon...into the atmosphere by the year 1850." She puts these numbers in context:

For comparison, between 1850 and 2000 people added 440 billion tons of carbon, mostly from burning fossil fuels — surpassing in a century and a half what had previously taken humankind eight millennia.

The video above tracks the change in land use over the past eight millenia. You can watch the land use changes spread from Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent out to India and Northern China, to Europe in Classical times, and on.

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
Some recent articles by Ben Jervey:
Join the discussion
Sign up to receive the best of GOOD delivered to your inbox each and every weekday
This smart sprinkler saves water by checking the weather.
Video: 8,050 Years of Human Impact on the Land