Guns, Germs, and Steel

A common theme, especially within environmental science discourses, is the ever evolving relationship between man and nature. This touches on the terms used in “Energy and Ecosystems” of the division of human history into prehistory and history. With these definitions it implies that man was controlled by nature and has learned gradually over time to now control and manipulate the environment. While I do believe that man has caused countless irreversible acts of destruction to the environment I don’t fully buy into the idea that we can “transcend the environment.” I think that we reach a point where it is impossible to have power over the environment. We have successfully managed to predict weather patterns but we cannot prevent them and that is a limit man will always live with. The destruction brought on by storms, earthquakes, tornadoes and other acts of Mother Nature have forced man to move which is when nature actually ends up controlling man. The video again proves how geography shaped the modern world and designated what we know as the developed and developing worlds today. The resources available, the animals in the area, and the ability of fertile crops completely dictated what humans were able to survive and prosper and eventually lead to the society of the haves and have nots. The more productive the grain available the faster the society developed and gained, “cargo.” For example, this development began in the middle east with the cultivation of barley and wheat. Asia followed not long after with the cultivation of rice; another highly productive and high yield crop. In summary the distribution of resources, which transcends into wealth which transcends into power was fundamentally due to farming and resources first discovered in different areas around the world.

3 thoughts on “Guns, Germs, and Steel”

  1. I think that you’re dismissing the possibilities of weather control a bit too quickly. There have been preliminary experiments with cloud seeding as a method of controlling rainfall, and given enough time we could see a day when cloud seeding (or another technique) is used to deflect storms, weaken them, or alter weather patterns altogether. I’m not saying if a tornado comes down we’ll have a magic button to stop it, but we could possibly have a method of determining how tornadoes form and then go about preventing the conditions necessary for formation.

    One of my favorite quotes:
    Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.

  2. I have never thought about mans ability to control the weather. While natural disasters cause destruction, displacement, and undue tragedy for humans it scares me to think that we could eventually control mother nature. I think sometimes with new developments and the interaction between nature and mankind we overlook the possible consequences.

  3. I can’t imagine what I’ll know tomorrow – but I know it will be worth finding out! I like Kara’s point about controlling the weather. Cloud seeding is an example of a limited intervention with a specific objective, but what Kara suggests is that climate and environmental change are complex and affected by so many variables that it seems unlikely that humans will ever have complete control over them. Today I know that humans have had and continue to have a huge effect on the climate. I’m pretty sure that tomorrow I will still know that, but hope that I also know that we figured out a way to slow down the damage.

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