• Guns, Germs and Steel

    Posted on January 26th, 2014 mollyo92 No comments

    I really enjoyed the video this week. Initially, it was difficult for me to make the connection from the film to the class, but I slowly began to understand the story and understand it’s relevance. The strongest message I took away from the video was that as humans began the process of domesticating crops and animals, they also began the natural world. What really stayed with me after the video’s completion was the image of the lively ancient village that was once productive farmland eventually becoming a barren desert due to overuse of the land. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what humanity is currently doing the planet through greenhouse gas emissions, heavy use of chemicals and pesticides, and the pollution that is created through large-scale industrial farms. In my train of thought I often imagined the industrial revolution as the beginning of this toxic change humanity is instilling on the earth and almost subconsciously I picture humans living hundreds and thousands of years ago in perfect harmony with nature, working with the land instead of manipulating it. However, after watching the video, it occurred to me that humans have been altering the planet for much longer than what we tend to consider. I began to think about how we have been acting against nature for a very long time, but then I wondered if these actions are against nature. Humans, after all, are organisms on this planet just like all other organisms. Just as Rob Dunn described in Wildlife of Our Bodies, we share many genes and traits with even fruit flies. And just as in the video, Dunn describes the ways humans have manipulated “nature” and changed our surroundings to our liking. But as far as the argument about this change being unnatural, I’m completely undecided. Perhaps humans evolved and were meant to manipulate the earth in order to steer the planet in the direction it’s now going. The other side is that humans are obstructing what nature intended and acting as a plague of the planet. And there is one further argument that nothing was meant to be and all of nature is chaotic and random. I’m not sure yet what I believe, but I’m confident that I’ll begin to lean in some direction as the course continues.


    2 responses to “Guns, Germs and Steel” RSS icon

    • You’ve picked up on something that’s really interesting. People often categorize everything non-human as “natural” and everything human as “artificial.” Our processed foods or computers or highways aren’t “natural” because they didn’t “form on their own.”

      But when you realize that humans are a part of and a product of nature just like everything else, doesn’t that make our “artificial” creations natural as well?

    • “I wondered if these actions are against nature.” This is such a great topic for debate! After all, every species is biologically programmed to do whatever it takes to survive and reproduce, so why shouldn’t human beings adhere to that? Other animals compete with each other for resources and survival; is that really any different? Just because we’re “winning” the biological arms race, does that mean we should stop? Should the extremity of our own advantages and effect on the rest of the world really matter? I’ve studied both arguments, and have my own opinions and beliefs, but I’m very interested to see how yours develop as a result of this class!

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