Friday, February 16, 2007

Global Warming And Social Evolution

I want to first point out that I believe that global warming involves two different aspects; The first is that it is a natural process, that, along with its opposite, global cooling, has occurred many times in the life of our planet. The second point is, that even if warming is natural, human activity is greatly exacerbating this trend, and prudence, (a good old fashioned, but long forgotten conservative virtue) should force us to do something to abate the problem. That said, I would like to examine the relationship between global warming and human social evolution.

Millions of years ago the savannah areas of East Africa began to dry due to warming. This forced our primate ancestors to descend from the trees and become bipedal, tool-using proto-humans. These proto humans, about one and a half million years ago, left Africa and expanded into Asia. They may well have done so because of climate change. More than 200,000 years ago, our people, Homo Sapiens developed, once again in Africa and at some point crossed over into Europe and Asia. Perhaps again, climate change was the push.

Then we had the long Ice Ages. After that, about 12,000 years ago, the world began to heat up again. The ice melted and vast areas of the world, most importantly the rich coastal plains, were flooded, giving rise to the universal legend of The Flood. About the same time the great prehistoric animals like the mammoth disappeared. The people, now crammed into a smaller land mass sought other means of food production, so horticulture, agriculture and domestication of animals progressed.

Global warming leveled off and a moist period ensued. This was ideal for the neolithic farmers who prospered, multiplied and built large villages. These peasants continued the egalitarian practices they had inherited from their paleolithic ancestors. Such was the situation in Eastern Europe. The Sahara at this time was not a desert, but a series of large lakes or shallow inland seas which supported fishing and farming communities. Herders roamed the plains and savanahs.

Then 6000 years ago the climate warmed radically, and was to do so, in an undulating pattern, for the following 2000 years. The result was devastating for the people on the plains and the Sahara Lakes. These areas quickly became deserts and the people fled en mass to the lush valleys where they conquered the farmers. The conquering minority became the Masters, the conquered, the Serfs, and thus class society was born. In order to maintain this inequality and to extract taxes and forced labour, the Masters needed to terrorize the conquered through a permanent military force. Thus the State was born. This was a disaster for the vast majority of humanity. Most of the suffering that was to follow, up to and including the present; the wars, enslavements, famines and genocidal conquests, have their origins in these horrific events, the climate-induced birth of class and state.

For the next 4000 years, the climate would cycle between warmer and colder periods, but generally with more of an emphasis on the colder. Some civilizations would rise and fall with the swings of the climate. The warming trend that enabled the Vikings to settle Greenland, destroyed the Anasazi of New Mexico and the Tiahuanacans of Bolivia. The Mini-Ice Age beginning about 1300 made the marginal lands of Europe unproductive and helped precipitate the Black Death. The world remained in cool mode until the 20ieth Century.

Now the cycle has shifted to the warming trend. In the meantime, over the last 200 years class division and the state have created a wasteful, unsustainable economy that greately exacerbates the warming tendency. The authoritarian system, born from global warming, is creating the conditions to destroy itself, ironically through global warming.

What next? One means to curtail the warming trend would be to shift to an economy that was human scale, decentralized, did not depend upon warfare – that ultimate polluter – nor a lot of wasteful long-distance carriers. This would mean the break up of that class divided, hierarchical, authoritarian structure. Put simply, state and class got us into this mess, state and class have to go so we can clean up the mess. Climate change may be the quite literal "hot house" of our next stage of social evolution!


Blogger Mike said...

"Put simply, state and class got us into this mess, state and class have to go so we can clean up the mess. Climate change may be the quite literal "hot house" of our next stage of social evolution!"

Well said Larry. We evolved to live in groups of 40 to 60, and now are forced together by the millions.

8:19 PM  
Blogger mollymew said...

Dear Larry,
I don't want to dispute your major thrust, but I think you should correct your statements that the "mini ice-age" "helped to precipitate the Black death". There are some that argue the precise opposite, that the 'Black Death' helped to precipitate the mini ice-age by leading to an increase in forestation in Europe and hence a "carbon sink". I doubt this myself, but I know a little about the biology of fleas.
Fleas thrive best in warm and wet climates. The actual date for the beginning of the "mini ice-age" is disputed. The advance of glaciers in Greenland may indeed be dated to the 13th century, but actual evidence of climate change in Europe, including Iceland, dated more to the 17th and 18th century, long after the Black Death of the 14th century.
It should be noted that the age of recurring plague epidemics ENDED with the advent of global cooling(at least in Europe) rather than beginning with it. This stands to reason given the biology of not just fleas but rodent vectors and their predators.The actual dates of the end of the medieval warm period and the beginning of the "mini ice-age" are indefinite, but I think the majority of the evidence points to the exact opposite of the assertion that cooling contributed to the Black Death. In actual fact local weather patterns may explain the islands of "plague free" zones, such as a lot of Poland, by precisely opposite reasoning- colder and drier means less plague. There is a simple reason why fleas are a bigger problem out where you live in BC than they are here in Winnipeg. Too bad, I could sell a lot of great drugs otherwise.
Anyways, I don't dispute your major thrust, that the state and "capitalism" are responsible for the present problem, and I don't doubt that the scientific consensus about human contribution to global warming is accurate. The evidence is overwhelming. The only thing that I would add is that this is ONE of the matters that have to be considered in a transition to a libertarian society, and that this depends upon public education beyond the "individual carbon reduction" campaigns that are often touted by our rulers.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

I have thought that the cooling which began at the end of the 13th Century gave rise to crop failures and famines which weakened the population's resistence to disease. Furthermore, the fleas came via their warm hosts (rats on board ship) into the cities, which at that time were all of wood and ideal breeding grounds for rats. At any rate, your comment Pat, makes the whole issue something worth looking into at greater depth.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Tim Barton said...

Hi Larry

I am webeditor of the website, and would like to run this Global Warming And Social Evolution blog on the site as a feature. Are you OK with that? And if so, do you want any particular links quoted other than the Porcupine one? And an email?


12:21 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Hi Tim, That would be great, feel free to publish it,. You could add the following links as further information on state and class formation. (I was going to add them but forgot)
Also email at Thanks, Larry

6:33 PM  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Good points. A centralized system is going to be put under enormous pressure.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

To read the complete article please follow either of these links :




5:33 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Good points, Sushil! Now that we have a "Slow Food MOvement", we also need a "Slow Life Movement."

12:59 PM  

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