Ahh nature, so full of abundance, working perfectly in unison with everything else. Mother earth grows amazing foods for us to eat, rainforests to clean the air we breathe, and, sometimes, she gets angry and sends earthquakes to remind us who’s boss.
Except, a lot of that isn’t true. In fact, over the course of the past 10,000 years, humans have almost completely changed the face of the planet – not only in terms of pollution, but also in terms of the types of animals and plants there are, and the way those plants and animals interact with the environment surrounding them.
The Amazon rainforest is the epitome of nature, a garden of eden of sorts. There are plentiful fruit trees, multitudes of animals, tons of fish – it seems like a paradise on earth which could have only been grown naturally. There’s now way that man could have done this! Oh wait, there is?
It turns out that there were tons of different civilizations inhabiting what is now the Amazon rain forest, but they all died out. But before they disappeared, these civilizations built massive cities, giant irrigation canals, changed the composition of the soil to make it more fertile, and planted tons of fruit trees. They even built artificial ponds in order to fish! After these civilizations collapsed, the jungle took back the towns, but the fishponds and the millions of fruit trees remained.
Who doesn’t like a good banana? It’s the perfect snack! All you need to do is peel back and bite down. However, this wasn’t always the case. Before bananas were domesticated in Papua New Guinea thousands of years ago, you would have had to sort through seeds in order to get at the actual fruit of the banana. But now, humans have domesticated the banana, and what you are eating now is a clone of a banana which originally became popular in the 1970s. Thats right, your relatives born before 1970 were eating a banana which had a completely different flavor! However, that banana became extinct, so we are all eating a different variety until it too goes.
A lot of vegetables
Have you ever noticed that cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, and cabbage all look similar? It’s because they were all bred by humans from the same plant – wild mustard. Yes, ancient humans were literally manipulating the plant so that certain traits would become more prominent. Cauliflower is believed to have been first cultivated from wild mustard 1,500 years ago in Syria, while broccoli was invented by the Romans more than 2,600 years ago!
Basically all farm animals
We all know that person who wants to let all of the farm animals be free so that they can live a normal, natural life. Well, the thing is, almost none of the barnyard animals you know and love actually come from nature. Cows for instance were domesticated by taking the most docile of a bovine called Aurochs – animals which were known for their temper and for having a ton of meat on them. Modern cows were domesticated about 10,500 years ago, and are so docile that they could never survive without humans taking care of them.
The same goes for domesticated goats! Goats were first domesticated from Ibex in the Zargos mountains on the border between Iran and Iraq over 10,000 years ago! The goats people know and love today have been bred to be completely lost without humans to help them!
A bunch of earthquakes
Who would have thought that all that digging and pumping of oil from the ground would be the cause of ravaging earthquakes? It turns out that more and more scientists are thinking that a combination of fracking (which increases pressure within fissures in the earth’s crust) as well as pumping oil (which does the exact opposite) are causing the plates in the earth to move in weird ways, thereby causing earthquakes. Thats right, the gas in your car is causing earthquakes! Something to think about when you’re sitting in traffic bored and waiting for the next big one.