Environmental degradation is as old as human civilization. From primitive hunter-gatherers and ancient Sumerian cities to Beringia migrations and the rise of Western industrialization, human endeavors placed intense pressures on landscapes, ecosystems, and plant/animal species. Despite notions that nonwhite native societies acted upon lands and resources with greater care and less detriment, history has demonstrated that all forms of human activity impressed upon the natural world varying degrees of degradation. As Homo sapiens migrated from Africa and the Middle East into Eurasia about 100,000 B.C.E., they confronted warming and cooling trends, losses of fauna, and competition from other hunter-gatherers. Nutritional shortages spurred the invention of agriculture in many portions of the world between 10,000 and 8000 B.C.E., marking a turning point in human evolution and ...

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