Civilization Reduces Quality of Life

Editors note: this piece is dated, and contains some generalizations, but is nonetheless a valuable overview of why civilization (definition here) is not sustainable or desirable.

By Jason Godesky / Tribe of Anthropik, #25 of Thirty Theses / Republished in accordance with Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Nothing in human existence has had a more profoundly negative impact on our quality of life than civilization. As we have already seen, it introduced the unnecessary evil of hierarchy (see thesis #11); it introduced the difficult, dangerous, and unhealthy agricultural lifestyle (see thesis #9); it makes us sick (see thesis #21), but provides no better medicine to counterbalance that effect (see thesis #22). It introduced endemic levels of stress, a diet and lifestyle maladapted and deleterious to our health, war as we know it, and ecological disaster, but it has given us nothing to counterbalance those effects; it has no monopoly on medicine, or knowledge in general (see thesis #23), or even art (see thesis #24), making the overall impact of civilization on quality of life disastrous.

Measuring quality of life is always a tricky thing, but the United Nations’ “Human Development Index” (HDI) looks at three criteria: longevity, knowledge, and standard of living. In the case of the HDI, all three are measured in ways biased towards civilization. For example, longevity is measured by life expectancy at birth—a measure which presumes the common civilized assumption that life begins at birth. It does not weight the average with abortions, for example, even though there is disagreement even within our own culture of when life begins. Given such disagreement, we should not be terribly surprised to learn that other cultures have different measures of when life begins. Foraging cultures, for example, often believe that life begins at age two, and thus classify infanticide and abortion in the same category. Children are often not named or considered persons until that time. A !Kung woman goes into labor, and walks into the bush—maybe she comes back with a baby, and maybe she doesn’t. Whether stillborn or killed at birth, it’s not considered any business of anyone else’s. This kind of attitude has given foragers a very high infant mortality rate, leading many naive commentators to assume that their way of life must be terribly afflicted with disease to claim so many infants, and ultimately taking the skewed statistics that arise from such a practice to make statements on forager quality of life. In fact, all such commentary provides is a glimpse of the power of ethnocentrism to skew even what we might consider unbiased statistics.

A less biased measurement might take expected age of death at a given age. Richard Lee noted that up to 60% of the !Kung he encountered were over 60 (in Western countries, that number is 10-15%). The table provided by Hillard Kaplan, et. al, in “A Theory of Human Life History Evolution: Diet, Intelligence, and Longevity” is quite instructive. Comparing the Ache, Hazda, Hiwi and !Kung shows an average probability of survival to age 15 of 60% (reflecting the enormous impact of normative infanticide), but the expected age of death at age 15 shoots up to 54.1. In Burton-Jones, et. al, “Antiquity of Postreproductive Life: Are There Modern Impacts on Hunter-Gatherer Postreproductive Life Spans?” another table is presented on p. 185, showing that at age 45, women of the !Kung could expect to live another 20.0 years for a total of 65 years, women of the Hadza could expect to live another 21.3 years for a total of 66.3 years, and women of the Ache could expect to live another 22.1 years for a total of 67.1 years. We should also bear in mind that all of the forager cultures examined to derive these statistics live in the Kalahari Desert—an extremely marginal and difficult ecosystem, even for foragers. Could we expect significantly higher numbers from foragers, if they were allowed to roam the sub-Saharan savannas to which humans are adapted, or verdant forests? We can only speculate, though the intuitive assumption would be affirmative.

An expected age of death of 54.1, or even 67.1, may seem dismal to us in the United States, but here in 1901, life expectancy was 49. It has only been very recently that civilized life expectancy has caught up to that of the most marginal foragers. Moreover, in thesis #8, we explored the relationship between the First World and the Third World. Focusing on First World statistics produces the same skewed result as focusing only on medieval royalty, to the exclusion of the peasants they relied upon for their abundance. The worldwide average life expectancy, then, is a far more relevant measure than the United States’. That number is currently 67 years—exactly the number Burton-Jones found for !Kung women eking out a living in the Kalahari. After all the incredible advances made in our life expectancy—advances which are now slowing, due to the diminishing marginal returns of medical research (a point addressed explicitly in thesis #15)—we have only managed to raise our life expectancy to that of the most meager and marginalized foragers.

Caspari & Lee, in “Older age becomes common late in human evolution,” show a trend of increasing longevity that goes back not to the origins of civilization, but to the Upper Paleolithic Revolution. We see forager longevity extending through the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and into historical times prior to being wiped out by the onslaught of civilization. In those meager areas where they have not been wiped out, forager longevity continues to grow longer, even though the marginal nature of their ecosystem makes for a fairly harsh life.

What we also see, archaeologically, is a massive crash in life expectancy associated with the innovation of agriculture. Dickson’s Mounds, already discussed in thesis #6, shows a catastrophic drop-off in life expectancy. We see the same pattern repeated wherever agriculture enters. Until recently, average agricultural life expectancy tended to vary between 20 and 35 years, while even the Kalahari foragers likely enjoyed the same 54.1 years they do today. Life expectancy in the First World is now in the low 70’s; in the Third World, however, it is still often in the 30’s.

The second criteria the U.N.’s index measures is knowledge, but here they use literacy as a stand-in. We have already discussed the high level of knowledge in primitive cultures in thesis #23, but such systems of knowledge are rarely written. Though impressive, they are of a different kind than literate knowledge. The U.N.’s measure systematically ignores this body of knowledge, however, by judging only by literacy. As Walter Ong explores in Orality and Literacy, orality, though it differs greatly from literacy, is by no means inferior to it.

It is by the third criterion, “standard of living,” that the disaster of civilization is laid bare, though it is once again obscured in the U.N. index by a systematically biased metric, in this case, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) in U.S. dollars. This is an intrinsically consumeristic metric that systematically sidelines the world’s “original affluent societies” by measuring a wealth they have no need for, and neglecting the wealth they possess in abundance. While foragers equal civilization on the first two criteria, they excel on the third.

On the very first day of any introductory economics class, a student learns the concept of scarcity, presented as an unassailable truth which forms the rock-solid cornerstone of all economic theory. Scarcity simply means that there is not enough of a given resource to satisfy the desires of everyone; therefore, some system must be established to control access to the scarce resource. As Marshall Sahlins points out in his famous essay, “The Original Affluent Society”:

Modern capitalist societies, however richly endowed, dedicate themselves to the proposition of scarcity. Inadequacy of economic means is the first principle of the world’s wealthiest peoples.

The market-industrial system institutes scarcity, in a manner completely without parallel. Where production and distribution are arranged through the behaviour of prices, and all livelihoods depend on getting and spending, insufficiency of material means becomes the explicit, calculable starting point of all economic activity….

Yet scarcity is not an intrinsic property of technical means. It is a relation between means and ends. We should entertain the empirical possibility that hunters are in business for their health, a finite objective, and that bow and arrow are adequate to that end.

Sahlins goes on to explain the wealth that foragers enjoy. They do not place much value in possessions, since these are a double-edged sword to the nomad. Since the items they need are so easily manufactured from freely available, abundant raw materials, foragers typically display a “scandalous” nonchalance with them. As Martin Gusinde remarked regarding his time with the Yahgan in The Yamana:

The European observer has the impression that these Indians place no value whatever on their utensils and that they have completely forgotten the effort it took to make them. Actually, no one clings to his few goods and chattels which, as it is, are often and easily lost, but just as easily replaced… The Indian does not even exercise care when he could conveniently do so. A European is likely to shake his head at the boundless indifference of these people who drag brand-new objects, precious clothing, fresh provisions and valuable items through thick mud, or abandon them to their swift destruction by children and dogs…. Expensive things that are given them are treasured for a few hours, out of curiosity; after that they thoughtlessly let everything deteriorate in the mud and wet. The less they own, the more comfortable they can travel, and what is ruined they occasionally replace. Hence, they are completely indifferent to any material possessions.

Sahlins also notes that foragers enjoy a terrifically varied diet, one virtually assured against famine. Le Jeune despaired of the Montagnais’ laid-back attitude, writing:

In the famine through which we passed, if my host took two, three, or four Beavers, immediately, whether it was day or night, they had a feast for all neighbouring Savages. And if those People had captured something, they had one also at the same time; so that, on emerging from one feast, you went to another, and sometimes even to a third and a fourth. I told them that they did not manage well, and that it would be better to reserve these feasts for future days, and in doing this they would not be so pressed with hunger. They laughed at me. ‘Tomorrow’ (they said) ‘we shall make another feast with what we shall capture.’ Yes, but more often they capture only cold and wind.

The European Le Jeune was anxious about how they would survive, but the foragers were so completely confident in their ability to feed themselves that they refused to store food, and ate recklessly. Among most foragers, the concept of starvation is unthinkable. If this represents any kind of primordial “Eden,” then it is typified by the injunction of the gospels, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:26) Of course, foragers have lean times like any other, and Sahlins supposes that there may be more to their lack of food storage than simple ideology: “Thus immobilised by their accumulated stocks, the people may suffer by comparison with a little hunting and gathering elsewhere, where nature has, so to speak, done considerable storage of her own—of foods possibly more desirable in diversity as well as amount than men can put by.” Food storage would encumber their movement, which would push them towards sedentism—and thus push them towards over-exploiting a given area.

To gather such a bounty, foragers work much less than we do today. Richard Lee’s initial assessment of the !Kung work week is neatly summarized by Sahlins:

Despite a low annual rainfall (6 to 10 inches), Lee found in the Dobe area a “surprising abundance of vegetation”. Food resources were “both varied and abundant”, particularly the energy rich mangetti nut- “so abundant that millions of the nuts rotted on the ground each year for want of picking.” The Bushman figures imply that one man’s labour in hunting and gathering will support four or five people. Taken at face value, Bushman food collecting is more efficient than French farming in the period up to World War II, when more than 20 per cent of the population were engaged in feeding the rest. Confessedly, the comparison is misleading, but not as misleading as it is astonishing. In the total population of free-ranging Bushmen contacted by Lee, 61.3 per cent (152 of 248) were effective food producers; the remainder were too young or too old to contribute importantly. In the particular camp under scrutiny, 65 per cent were “effectives”. Thus the ratio of food producers to the general population is actually 3:5 or 2:3. But, these 65 per cent of the people “worked 36 per cent of the time, and 35 per cent of the people did not work at all”!

For each adult worker, this comes to about two and one—half days labour per week. (In other words, each productive individual supported herself or himself and dependents and still had 3 to 5 days available for other activities.) A “day’s work” was about six hours; hence the Dobe work week is approximately 15 hours, or an average of 2 hours 9 minutes per day.

This is the oft-quoted “two hours a day” statistic, but it has come under fire from critics who point out that Lee did not add in other necessary activities, such as creating tools and food preparation. So, Lee returned to do further study with these revised definitions of “work,” and came up with a figure of 40-45 hours per week. This might seem to prove that hunter-gatherers enjoy no more leisure than industrial workers, but the same criticisms laid against Lee’s figures also apply against our “40 hour work week.” Not only is that increasingly a relic of a short era sandwiched between union victories and the end of the petroleum age as the work week stretches into 50 or even 60 hours a week, but it, too, does not include shopping, basic daily chores, or food preparation, which would likewise swell our own tally. Finally, the distinction between “work” and “play” is not nearly as clear-cut in forager societies as it is in our own. Foragers mix the two liberally, breaking up their work haphazardly, and often playing while they work (or working while they play). The definition of work which inflates the total to 40-45 hours per week includes every activity that might be considered, regardless of its nature. Even the most unambiguous “work” of foragers is often the stuff of our own vacations: hunting, fishing, or a hike through the wilds.

We assume that agriculture allowed people greater leisure and thus time to develop civilization. On the contrary; agriculture drastically cut our leisure time, and much of our quality of life. Civilization, then, is a contrivance to salvage what we can from a difficult and maladaptive way of life. The typical means of measuring quality of life are all distinctly biased, and for good reason: we can scarcely conceive of the abundance and affluence enjoyed by foragers. They have their health, unlike us; they have a reliable, diverse diet, unlike us; they have leisure time, unlike us. The past 10,000 years have constituted an unmitigated disaster in every dimension possible. Civilization is unprecedented in the scope and speed of its failure.

15 thoughts on “Civilization Reduces Quality of Life”

  1. Making a living by hunting and foraging is only possible in a healthy and stable ecological system, where nature maintains itself and human activity is too small to upset the ecological balance. When human populations increase, their combined activities will also increase and soon reach a level where nature cannot absorb the impact anymore. Humans then will either destroy the ecosystem (overgrazing, deforestation, overfishing, overhunting) or migrate to areas which are still pristine and able to feed them.

    Ecosystem collapse, famine, and migration waves happened countless times in human history. Even if they appeared to be the consequence of agriculture, civilization, technology, and war, the underlying basic cause was always overpopulation.

    Agriculture, complex civilization, urbanization, and advanced technology emerged because of population growth and there’s no turning back. Hunting and foraging would not feed todays 7 billion people and there are also only small isolated patches of pristine nature left.

    Anyway, we now have reached a point where global ecosystems are collapsing and their human designed artificial replacements are completely inadequate. Technological solutions (nuclear power, genetic modification, geo-engineering) make matters only worse. The only remedy one could think of is a significant reduction of human population and the universal adaption of an extremely modest lifestyle.

    Less humans, and the remaining ones living modestly. It will happen in one way or the other — either intelligently managed by ourselves or forced upon us by resource scarcity, natural disasters, pandemics, mass poisoning by human introduced environmental toxins, and wars (about water, land, minerals, fossil fuels).

    We don’t have the technological means to maintain current population levels and preserve nature at the same time, but we certainly have the means to wipe out life on this planet. This is also a possibility and unfortunately a highly probable one.

  2. @Wolf Mato: like many other Greens, you advocate a reduction in the human population. I assume you have not reproduced, but either way, do you have ideas on how this might be achieved without fascism?

    1. Well said Wolf Mato. And this can be done in non-Draconian ways. Look at Iran—they had a birthrate of over 7 children per woman and massive population growth, but reduced this to a less-than-replacement rate via education and freely available family planning and birth control. This is just one example. Needless to say, overpopulation is one reason we at DGR take feminism as inextricably linked with environmental struggle. When women and girls have power and are not controlled by men, they choose to have fewer children on average.

  3. “Making a living by hunting and foraging is only possible in a healthy and stable ecological system, where nature maintains itself and human activity is too small to upset the ecological balance.” In sustainable indigenous cultures, humans play a major (“hyperkeystone”) role in maintaining resilience, biodiversity, and abundant productivity of ecosystems.

    See https://phys.org/news/2019-02-reveals-humanity-roles-ecosystems.html for a brief discussion of positive (“sustainable”) and negative cultures. The Aleutian culture paper by Dunne et al. referred in the phys.org post is available at https://www.nature.com/articles/srep21179 (open access).

    “Ecosystem collapse, famine, and migration waves happened countless times in human history. Even if they appeared to be the consequence of agriculture, civilization, technology, and war, the underlying basic cause was always overpopulation.”

    Sustainable indigenous cultures control their populations. A shift to agriculture is typically followed by an increasing population. As Hemenway put it, “Agriculture is a process for converting ecosystems into humans.” This is a process that inherently self-terminates as the last ecosystems are converted.

    “… there’s no turning back. Hunting and foraging would not feed todays 7 billion people and there are also only small isolated patches of pristine nature left.”

    Makarieva, a biophysicist at the Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics, based on energy transfers through ecosystem food webs and the role of ecosystems in maintaining temperature and hydrological regimes for abundant planetary life, suggests that we need a human population reduction of at least two orders of magnitude (e.g., from 7 billion to not more than 70 million).

    In our cultural myths, “there’s no turning back” is the lemming chant.

  4. Ever since about the time of the advent of Daniel Quinn’s novel, “Ishmael” (back in the `90s), indigenous cultivators of food crops, such as myself, have had to contend with the allegation that the cultivation of food crops, no matter how sustainably practiced, was the beginning of the grand decline and fall of our species. I realize that not every fan of Quinn’s work or every anti-civilization activist thinks that way, but the problem occurs when people fail to adequately define “agriculture” and distinguish that from sustainable traditional indigenous cultivation practices. I define “agriculture” as the cultivation of food crops for a market economy, or for money, which is coupled with the commodification of and disrespect for the natural world. That practice, along with the invention of money itself and the failure of some early societies to maintain population levels that were consistent with the carrying capacities of their homelands were the real culprits. Traditional first peoples would avoid over-population by several methods, including the prayerful dividing and relocation of bands within tribes in ways that would adjust for that, along with other population-regulating practices. Agriculture and money were the roots of empire and colonialism, and both were the result of unsustainble, disrespectful relationships with homeland, leading to dependence on trade and/or “conquest.”

    The traditional ways of indigenous cultivation more properly fit the definitions of the terms “horticulture,” “permaculture,”and “polyculture.” What those ways of cultivation have in common is that they were done for personal and community subsistence, only as needed, and in combination with sustainable practices of foraging. Whether foraging wild foods or cultivating foods that were originally found in the wild, those activities were/are done in a spiritual attitude of respect and thanksgiving toward the natural world (visible and invisible), and with a commitment to preserve natural ecological systems. Our traditional practices involve working in synch with the natural world, helping to spread more of the wild-gathered foods into more of their traditional habitats. One example of that would be the Anishinabe practice of planting rice in new wetland areas created by beaver or, my people, the Wampanoags of Massachusetts, doing something very similar with wild cranberries. Corn was originally grown by many first peoples in habitats where corn’s wild grain cousins also occurred naturally. It should also be noted that many so-called “sedentary” or village-making tribes, should more accurately be defined as semi-sedentary, due to seasonal, cyclical movement of the people for the continuation of foraging practices

    Other than the omission of those distinctions, I am in general agreement with your analysis of the plague called “civilization.” I am also very pleased to see somebody else cite and quote Richard Lee, Marshall Sahlins and Walter Ong.

  5. Thank you and I am honored that you would ask to do so. I will gladly grant you the permission to freely share my words, as you wish. I would like to ask you if you could add a link to a related essay on my blog, titled, “The End of Money: The Need for Alternative, Sustainable, Non-monetary Local Economies”? Perhaps it could be inserted at the end of the first paragraph as (See, https://georgepriceblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/the-problem-with-money-2/
    ) The essay was published a few years ago on the Deep Green Resistance Newsletter and also on the Local Futures webpage around the same time. Thanks again, in solidarity.

  6. Why did Jason Godesky obsess on human harms from civilization? The vast majority of those harms are to non-humans. I can’t make the “reply” button work, so I’ll reply to some of the comments here:

    Wolf Mato has it backward: agriculture caused human overpopulation, not the other way around. When I first researched the origin of human overpopulation, it was not clear whether agriculture or overpopulation came first. But upon further reflection, it’s obvious. Agriculture provided an unnatural abundance of food, and like the high school biology Petri dish experiment, once humans got more food, the Earth got more humans. The opposite is not possible. In the first place, hunter-gatherers don’t overpopulate. But second, even if they did, they couldn’t just discover agriculture out of necessity. Wolf is correct that all the other harms came from overpopulation.

    @Simeon Hope: Empowering and educating girls and women has been proven to be an effective way to reduce birthrates. However, considering the extreme human overpopulation from which the rest of the Earth is suffering, we’ll also need a strict global one-child-family policy until human population is low enough to live in balance with the ecosystems in which the groups of humans live. Sorry, but the natural environment and all that lives there are far more important than human desires to do whatever they want, regardless of how harmful those activities are.

    @Bill Everett: There is no natural and native ecosystem in which humans play a necessary role. Humans are best suited to focusing on expanding their consciousness and leaving the physical/natural world alone, manipulating it just enough to survive. I understand that some hunter-gatherers increase native plants that they eat, but that probably comes at the expense of other plants that they don’t eat but that other animals might eat, thereby harming those animals. It’s all about natural ecological balance, not human desires.

    I do fully agree with you about the defeatist attitude though. There are an almost infinite number of variables in life, and there will always be far more that humans don’t know than they do. So we should always keep fighting for the right things. Furthermore, saying “we can’t turn back” or other similar BS is ridiculous. If you missed your exit on the highway, would you just continue in the wrong direction and say, “sorry, we can’t turn back”? Of course not.

    @George Price: Agriculture, BY DEFINITION, is killing plants and the animals that depend on them in order to plant what people want. Additionally, agriculture causes overpopulation and has led to the grossly unnatural world that humans have now created. So yes, all agriculture is harmful, though some is quite obviously more harmful than others. I agree with you about money, totally evil stuff. But humans should be living in much smaller numbers as hunter-gatherers, as they did for 95% of their existence and as all other animals do. Agriculture is totally unnatural and very harmful to the natural world, no matter how “sustainably” anyone claims that they’re doing it. “Sustainable” is just a BS term anyway, meaning how much you can destroy something without totally wrecking everything.

  7. Jeff Hoffman, thanks for engaging in this discussion. One point that you made which I agree with absolutely is, “there will always be far more that humans don’t know than they do.” It is very useful to keep that in mind during all of our discussions and interactions, as a way to not be so sure of ourselves and our views that we block the possibility of learning something new.

    Obviously, we disagree on several points, so I won’t repeat myself on those. Instead, I would like to just raise a question or two about something else that you said: “Agriculture provided an unnatural abundance of food…” Is an abundance of food really an unnatural state of affairs for any species, including our own? Although I don’t have the expertise to cite any specific studies on this point, it seems to me from what I have learned so far, that there have been many times and places in the history of our species in which nature has provided an abundance of food for forager/hunter/gatherer people, even for very long periods of time. Not only do the stories of indigenous peoples speak of such times in our histories (along with stories of the lean times), but so did the journal writers among the early colonialists in America and some of the Pacific islands, when they described indigenous people who were so hospitable and generous with their abundant supplies of food that it seemed that they had never known hunger or what we call today, “food insecurity.” Such accounts are pervasive in the historical record, from people such as Columbus, Henry Hudson, John Smith, and many lesser-known settler colonialists.

    Lastly, to your comment, “There is no natural and native ecosystem in which humans play a necessary role. Humans are best suited to focusing on expanding their consciousness and leaving the physical/natural world alone, manipulating it just enough to survive.” Could it be possible that humans, like all other natural species, actually do have a natural, life enhancing, life-reciprocating, interactive purpose in the physical world? Is it also possible that most of our species have moved so far away from fulfilling that purpose that some of us now find it very hard to imagine or accept that such a purpose ever existed?

  8. @George Price:
    ” Is an abundance of food really an unnatural state of affairs for any species, including our own?”
    Yes, if that abundance is created by unnatural means like agriculture, because it puts humans out of balance with the ecosystem, starting with overpopulation. Food is probably the No. 1 natural limiting factor in population size. Again, high school biology Petri dish experiment, I don’t know why humans think they’re above that or otherwise not subject to it.

    Hunter-gatherers don’t overpopulate. I don’t overemphasize the intellect and don’t have any studies or data to prove this, but it seems obvious and just common sense that the reason that agricultural societies overpopulate and hunter-gatherer ones don’t is that agriculture provides more food. If you have another credible explanation, I welcome it. And BTW, Pacific Islanders are agriculturalists, not hunter-gatherers, though of course they fish. The last I read about 25 years ago, those people are thought to have originated in China, which has been using agriculture for a very long time.

    A TV character said it best: When nature created humans, it created something outside of itself. Because humans are so physically inferior to all other similar animals and thus rely on their intellect and highly developed self-consciousness to survive, they are fundamentally different than all other life on Earth. If you can name one NATIVE ecosystem that depends on humans for any ecological service, I’d love to hear it because I can’t think of any. Predators limit prey populations, ungulates spread grasses and feed predators, etc. What exactly do humans do? It’s clear to me that our large brains should be used for expanding our consciousness, not manipulating the physical/natural world, the latter which we do at great harm to it.

  9. Thanks, Jeff. So, if abundance of food did occur occasionally (or frequently) naturally, without the use of agriculture, in the world of hunter/gatherers, and it is such abundance that leads to over-population, why did the hunter/gatherers never overpopulate, at least in certain local ecosystems?

    “What exactly do humans do?” Well, you mentioned one thing: we are predators. Of course we know that humans have exercised that role in exorbitant excess, but there have also been times and places in which human predatory activity was done sustainably. And although very few wild animals seem to want to eat us, we have also sometimes served the role of prey. One “ecological service” that I can think of that was traditionally engaged in by many indigenous peoples was the practice of seasonal, selective, controlled burning, in both grasslands and woodlands. That practice provided nutrients for plants and excellent grazing conditions for ungulates. Leaving our bodily excretions, carcasses, and other organic wastes in the ground also provides the same service that other species provide in that way. When food cultivating tribal peoples fish they provide a natural fertilizer to the ground by burying uneaten fish parts.

    I hope that these examples are helpful.

  10. @George Price: Humans are not predators, they are omnivores who ate meat occasionally. Keep in mind that in nature, most hunts are unsuccessful, same with humans hunting naturally. Humans are not at all necessary to control prey populations, especially since humans don’t limit their hunting to prey animals, which they should be doing BTW.

    As to abundance of food among hunter-gatherers, that’s sketchy at best. There is so much food availability in nature and that’s it. Of course things like drought or flooding affect natural food availability, but on the whole it doesn’t fluctuate much.

    As to burning grasses etc., grasses were around well before animals, and thus even longer than that well before humans. So humans are totally unnecessary for the health of grasslands or native grazers.

    To be clear, traditional indigenous people are far less harmful to the natural world than modern humans, but hunter-gatherers are far less harmful than any agriculturalists, including indigenous people who farm less harmfully without pesticides and tilling. But again, the only way to live on the Earth in harmony with the local ecosystem is as hunter-gatherers, not agriculturalists.

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