On his blog What Would Jesus Eat, Lucas recently made the very interesting observation that humans have only been engaged in agriculture for about 5% of the time our species has existed.

Contemplating the brevity of our time on earth in relation to the rest of life is a mind-blowing exercise.  The first life appeared on earth about 3 1/2 billion years ago, with complex animals appearing about 550 million years ago.  Mammals have been around for about 200 million years.  The first humans appeared a mere 200,000 years ago.  During 99.999945% of the time there has been life on earth, there were no humans.  We’re new kids on this block.

But even within our relatively short time here, what we now know as our “civilized” state is just a small fraction of that time.  As Lucas points out, humans only started practicing agriculture about 10,000 years ago. For 95% of time humans have existed on the planet, we were hunter-gatherers.

Thinking in these terms makes the era of chemical-based industrial agriculture (the last 60 or so years) seem brief indeed.  In fact, it helps put in perspective a great many things about the natural world and the human relation to it.

Love Wins


4 comments on “Perspective

  1. our composting makes a lot of sense (almost 30 years where we live now) – “nature” has been doing that for a very, very long time


    • Bill says:

      Indeed. Which brings to mind these lines from my favorite poem:

      Ask the questions that have no answers.
      Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
      Say that your main crop is the forest
      that you did not plant,
      that you will not live to harvest.

      Say that the leaves are harvested
      when they have rotted into the mold.
      Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
      Put your faith in the two inches of humus
      that will build under the trees
      every thousand years.


  2. Imagine 10,000 years of chemica-basedl farming.


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