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From about 32 kya to 22 kya, prevailed in Europe. That culture produced the and art such as the . By 20 kya, . But as far as human expansion is concerned, the Gravettian (and related cultures) are most notorious as mammoth hunters extraordinaire for those that lived on the near the ice sheets. To , they could not swim to Sahul, but flourished everywhere else they could get to. At , they were the ultimate hunter-gatherer kill. Also, near the ice sheets, meat could be stored in the ground. Cro-Magnons did just that, and that “freezer” full of meat led to the first seasonally sedentary humans. It long predated the Domestication Revolution when people could be sedentary year-round, but while the megafauna lasted, the first signs of what came later appeared as Cro-Magnons created villages around frozen mammoth meat. Gravettians hunted along migration routes and set traps and ambushes for mammoths. For thousands of years, mammoths were the primary focus of Gravettian hunters, and many scientists believe that humans at least . Gravettians probably used the bow and arrow, and using poisoned arrows on mammoths would have been child’s play, not a hazardous undertaking. They also tended to focus on the easy meat: the young, relatively defenseless, tender mammoths. Killing the offspring alone would have driven the slowly reproducing mammoths to extinction, and as the interglacial period began around 15 kya, there would have been new pressures on mammoths. One of them was that fewer mammoths meant that they were not terraforming their environments like they used to, and the warming climate probably reduced their range. For a mammoth facing humans, there was literally no place to hide (except maybe in the living room), and there is little reason to think that hunters would have eased up when mammoth numbers dwindled. If anything, their efforts would have to get the last ones, as they competed and fought over the final mammoths. In one lifetime or even several, the changes would have been barely noticeable, if at all. There was simply no way out for mammoths, and they went extinct south of the European ice sheets under the ministrations of Cro-Magnon hunters. More evidence of their fate is some mammoths surviving in refugia: islands where humans did not arrive until thousands of years later. mammoths survived on in the chain off of Alaska until less than six kya, and went extinct when humans arrived. Several hundred apparently full-sized mammoths survived on near Siberia and went extinct less than five kya, when humans arrived. In today's France and Spain, Gravettians also semi-settled along the migration routes of reindeer and red deer. From Spain across Europe, into today's Russia, Gravettians hunted migrating herds, and not only the mammoth was driven to extinction, but also the wooly rhino, the Irish elk, the musk ox, and steppe bison were driven to extinction as the ice sheets retreated. Neanderthals had been ambush hunting in similar fashion, and those animals, like the African megafauna, grew wary of humans, and killing those animals probably took planning and guile.

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In the Western Hemisphere, Africa, and Eurasia, the five-to-seven metric ton herbivores and the predators that hunted them became , but in marsupial-dominated Australia they were a little smaller, and the largest marsupial ever, , reached “only” about three metric tons. Australian animals enjoyed about , and large herbivore/predator guilds thrived there as they did elsewhere. After appearing about 1.6 mya, quickly went extinct about 46 kya, and their bones have been . The next largest denizen of did. Megafauna are variously defined as animals weighing at least 45 or 100 kilograms, which is about as massive as humans. About 90% of Australia’s megafauna went extinct soon after humans arrived. , a , a , and so on. A number had , to go extinct shortly after humans arrived. The is horrifically impressive. I have yet to see a disinterested scientist or academic deny the idea that humans were primarily responsible, and almost certainly responsible, for Australian megafauna extinctions. When a “referee” , which assessed the state of the debate, the authors attributed Australian megafauna extinctions entirely to humans. There is evidence that those early Australians engaged in setting great fires. On Borneo, about the same time that humans first invaded Australia, near , humans also burned the forests with abandon, as they probably tried to transform the rainforest environment into something friendlier to humans.

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Later, palaces appeared, and Sumerian palaces and their related elites are seen today as more of an intrusive dynamic from rural societies, as a kind of invasion and conquest rather than a natural outcome of Sumerian urban life. The elite arguably performed some kind of exchange function, but a common idea among anthropologists is that elites became elites , not because they performed a necessary societal function. In early cities, elites usually arose from new professional classes that created and controlled markets. In early Mesopotamian states, palace activities were largely centered around elite lifestyles, not administering state functions. Sumer was the first pristine state, and when , something like happened. They all had similar features, which included: male domination, divinely sanctioned heads of state with harems and other extravagances in their capital cities, including elite-aggrandizing monumental architecture, forced servitude, human sacrifice and/or public executions to terrorize the populace into submission, conscripted “cannon fodder” infantry led by elite officers, fortified cities, taxation, and so on. All pristine states passed through similar developmental stages, and some features appeared earlier or later than others, with minor variation among their attributes, but they all had remarkable resemblances, which probably reflected human “nature,” in which everywhere reacted to analogous economic conditions in comparable fashion.

Into thin air essay questions
With each divine impulse the mind rends the thin rinds of the visible and finite, and comes out into eternity, and inspires and expires its air.

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The first civilizations, located in the Fertile Crescent, also impaired their energy supplies through unsustainable practices such as . Those civilizations all collapsed, and the death knell was always starvation, which is running out of the energy (i.e., food) needed to fuel human bodies. There was an exodus from Mesopotamia and vicinity to lands yet to be despoiled by civilization, and that is ended up on the Mediterranean's periphery. In their turn, those Mediterranean civilizations repeated the dynamic of deforestation and agriculture, and they all eventually collapsed, from to to to . In those examples, the trajectory was generally one of profligate deforestation and agriculture on newly exposed forest soils, to a decline in yields due to soil depletion and desertification, to belated attempts at conservation and attempts to boost the energy supply, to a final collapse. Conquering and plundering one's neighbors was one way to temporarily boost the energy supply, which Rome refined to a science, as it drove and to extinction. As Rome's , it had to plunder from , which further reduced its EROI. Those practices were anything but sustainable, and when each civilization collapsed, the region went moribund for centuries as ecosystems recovered to the point where they could sustain civilization again. However, those practices eventually turned verdant forests into deserts, as any . The energy provided by wood and soils was depleted by all early civilizations, and their collapses were energy crises above all else.

Into thin air essay questions

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At this juncture, I will ask my readers to perform an exercise that I first saw described by Peak Oil advocate , which is to lay aside data and graphs and just think about how energy makes everything in our daily lives possible. Think about your food, water, mode of transportation, and materials that comprise your home and possessions, and think of the role that energy played in providing them. Think about the energy that you use each day in powering your home and in your transportation, even if it is just walking. Then imagine running out of energy. When you flipped on a light switch, nothing happened. When you turned on the tap, no water came out. Your refrigerator stopped working, food deliveries to your community ceased, and no electricity, oil, gas, coal, or even wind or water power was available. Everything in your life would come to a sudden halt. When people have tried to demote energy below spirituality, social relations, or even made it irrelevant to economics, my question is for them to see what they can forego the longest: prayer/meditation, social interaction, sex, or energy. The fossil fuels burned to power industrial civilization provide several hundred energy slaves for each American and no less than hundreds per person in every industrialized nation. All that those energy-leveraged humans do is direct the energy, like holding the reins of a gigantic beast that each person rides each day. Airline pilots half-joke that they begin their workday by strapping jet airliners to their waists. Without that energy to direct in the myriad ways that industrialized humans use it, modern civilization would come to an abrupt end.

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As with the previous Epochal Events (, , ), imagine an English peasant of 1500 being placed in the midst of London in 2014, or visiting today's average American home. The only metal in an English home of 1500 might have been some tools and eating utensils. Wood and wool were the primary materials in an English home. Some metals of the modern world would be vaguely familiar, but plastic would be unrecognizable. English peasants’ homes had thatched roofs, dirt floors, no plumbing, and people rarely bathed. Glass windows only existed in rich homes, which were built like fortresses. London was a walled city in 1500, and nobody went outside after dark if they valued their lives. Sewers did not yet exist, and violence and capital punishment were common. In England in 1500, only 1% of women were literate and only 10% of men. About half of all people died before adulthood, and if they survived that long, they could expect to live into their early 60s if they were lucky. Few made it to 70. Only rich people were fat. Strangers roaming the countryside could legally be enslaved. Modern appliances and machines would all be incomprehensible, and all electronic devices would seem magical. How much of a modern TV show would be understandable? Cars, trains, airplanes, and rockets would be mind-boggling. By 1500, news would have filtered into learned circles that Spain discovered some Atlantic islands, but nobody yet suspected that new continents had been discovered. The telescope would not be invented for another century, Earth was seen as the center of the universe, and the . Imagine trying to explain the Apollo moon landings to that peasant, if the peasant did not regard it as some fairy tale (many people ). Could an English peasant from 1500 dropped into 2014 London have ever adapted?