Page 9 - Perspective Paper
P. 9

Recent  studies  suggest  that  Homo  sapiens  have  played  a  much  more  important  role  in  facilitating  the
               termination of the last AHP than previously understood (Wright, 2017). Hominin migrations out of Africa
               beginning  around 2 million years  ago  have  been  hypothesised  to  be primarily  climate-driven,  occurring
               mainly  during  warm  and  wet  cycles  (Tierney  et  al.,  2017).  However,  humans  have  never  been  passive
               environmental actors, and there is a growing and significant body of research indicating that the use of
               technology,  such  as  fire  and  advanced,  cooperative  hunting  skills,  significantly  affected  landscape
               composition during the Pleistocene (Boivin et al., 2016; Hoag & Svenning, 2017).

               The mastery of fire combined with the cognitive revolution led to greater landscape manipulation skills,
               which, in turn, led to the formation of landscapes that were dependent on the presence of humans for their
               functionality (Scott, 2017). By burning away forests for better hunting grounds, cutting down trees for fuel,
               building temples and hunting down large animal populations.

               Homo sapiens became a keystone species that greatly altered the
               landscape wherever they roamed  (Pinter et al., 2011). Later, the
               development of pastoralism (which spread from the Fertile Crescent
               southward after 11,000 BP) introduced a novel trophic feature that
               is hypothesised to have accelerated orbitally induced de-vegetation
               and is caused major regime shifts in sensitive ecosystems (Wright,
               2017). The effects of animal trampling on ASALs accelerate surface
               erosion, enhancing albedo (Zerboni and Nicoll, 2019) and recursive
               effects of an altered ‘ecology of fear’ as humans protect livestock
               from  predation  (Wright,  2017)  are  argued  to  have  reverberated
               across the already drying landscape of the Sahara after 8000 years
               ago.  Many  archaeological  examples  indicate  the  altering  effects
               Homo sapiens had on the flora and fauna they came into contact

               with,  leading  to  extinction,  mono-cultures  and  a  subsequent
                                                                           Figure  2.4.  These  prehistoric  rock
               weakening  of  local  biomes  (example  of  cave  paintings  shown  in   paintings  were  discovered  in  Manda
               Figure  2.4)  thereby  making  these  biotopes  more  susceptible  to   Guéli  Cave  in  the  Ennedi  Mountains,
               climate change. Therefore, prior to the modern era and burning of   Chad, Central Africa. Camels have been
                                                                           painted  over  earlier  images  of  cattle,
               fossil fuels driving anthropogenic climate change, human-induced
                                                                           perhaps  reflecting  climatic  changes
               land cover change was an entrenched feature of northern Africa’s   (Simonis et al., 2017)
               ecosystems. Humans have been drivers of landscape processes in
               the region for many millennia. The impact of humans on the environment has, however, logically increased
               tremendously from the start of the industrial revolution (Foley et al., 2013).

               Recognizing the connections and reciprocity between regional and global scale processes is crucial both in
               understanding historical climate shifts and managing those of the future (Foley et al., 2005). Taking on a new
               perspective  that,  over  the  course  of human history,  our  interactions  with  the  direct  environment  have
               contributed to shaping the global climate to what it is today, opens up opportunities to shape the global
               climate of the future, but now with intention.

               A strategic ‘living systems’ approach to climate stabilization                          9/26
   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14