Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Bio-blender Earth @ The Long Now

The web of history... very interesting...

Charles C. Mann: Living in the Homogenocene: The First 500 Years - The Long Now: "

Tumultuous effects resulted and continue to result from the massive mixing of the world’s biota when European ships reconnected the American continent to the rest of the world. Mann traced several of the cascading consequences of "the biggest ecological convulsion since the death of the dinosaurs."

The first momentous change came from microbial exchange---20 lethal diseases came from Europe to the Americas while only one (syphilis) went the other way. North America, which had been largely cleared by natives with fire and agriculture, reforested when two-thirds to 95% of the native inhabitants died from European diseases---"the greatest demographic catastrophe in human history." That huge reforesting drew down atmospheric carbon dioxide and Europe’s "Little Ice Age" (1550-1800) apparently resulted.