ADVANTAGES

Just as became a strategy for extinction for the world’s megafauna when a , forests are the that Earth has ever seen. Trees are Earth’s “megaflora,” and they suffered the same fate as megafauna wherever civilization appeared. When humans became sedentary, they razed local forests to gain building materials and fuel, and the freshly deforested land worked wonderfully for raising crops, at least until the soils were ruined from nutrient depletion, erosion, salination, and other insults. Domesticated cattle pulled the first plows, which . When humans , beginning about 8 kya, deforestation was easier, so a dynamic arose in the Fertile Crescent in which bronze axes easily deforested the land. The exposed soil was then worked with draft animals pulling bronze plows, and this increased crop yields but also increased erosion. That complex of deforestation, crops, draft animals, and smelted metals yielded great short-term benefits but was far from sustainable, as it devastated the ecosystems and soils and also impacted the hydrological cycle, which gradually turned forests into deserts. Earth was also deforested by the enormously energy-intensive Bronze Age smelting of metal. During the Mediterranean region's Bronze Age, the standard unit of copper production was the (because it was worth about one ox), which weighed between 20 and 30 kilograms. It took six tons of charcoal to smelt one ingot, which required 120 pine trees, or 1.6 hectares (four acres) of trees. Kilns for making pottery also required vast amounts of wood. Wood met many energy needs of early Old World civilizations, which were all voracious consumers of wood.

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