Pre-Columbus New World Populations

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Desertrat, Sep 21, 2003.

  1. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #1
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=78405

    is a thread just begun at TB2K. It speaks to the research and conclusions about how many indigenous people were here (and in Central/South America) in 1491.

    I noted a comment about how the conclusions of high or low populations affect our views about "the environment", which is why I found it of interest for this political forum.

    If indeed there were previously much larger populations here, with much more development, than what is commonly assumed, it changes the picture about our present ideas of "wilderness".

    'Rat
     
  2. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #2
    Modern history has it that the native Americans were notorious clear-cutters.

    Perhaps the point is that we, being several centuries older and supposedly more advanced, should be better stewards of the land than we are.

    Instead, we've more efficient ways to destroy out natural habitats.
     
  3. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #3
    The greatest ongoing fallacy is that somehow native Americans were an entirely separate branch of the human tree. They came to the Americas and had two entire continents untrammeled by man at their disposal. The wide open spaces allowed them to do as they wished but their numbers never really stressed the environment, unlike in Europe, Asia, or Africa. Their respect for the environment wasn't dissimilar to that of Europeans a few centuries earlier.

    Not too many years ago a scientist at the UofO discovered that the Willamette Valley in OR was originally dense forest. The native peoples had burned it off though and used it as a big hunting reserve.

    Did the Mayans simply have too many people dependent upon too few resources in an environment prone to water shortages?

    The Anastazi (sp) were also victims of climate change.

    One of my favorite environmental books is Second Nature by Michael Pollan. He talks a lot about our need to separate ourselves from the teachings of Thoreau. Our 'either or' mentality. We are a part of that wilderness, just because we walk on our hind feet and wear clothes does not mean that we can separate ourselves from where we came. Now that we have come to dominate the planet, it's time to acknowledge the fact that there is a second kind of nature. One that is largely controlled by man.

    It's time to move on and stop arguing about whether 'wilderness' means totally untouched by man or lightly touched or perhaps even heavily used a few centuries ago. Wild areas, whether they've been forever wild or not should be valued for what they currently are, not for what they might have once been.

    The danger in the biblical interpretation of man as overlord of the planet is in our not knowing what impact our actions will have. Prudence is not a bad quality when it comes to stewardship of the planet.
     
  4. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    In 1939, my grandparents bought a "plumb wo' out" old farm some five miles from Austin. It had broomweed, mesquite and cockleburrs, and was heavily gullied. Little topsoil.

    By hand labor, through the war years, he reclaimed the place. Cross-drainage plowing, cutting mesquite and piling it into the gullies and weighting it with rocks, and pulling/burning cockleburrs. By the end of the war it was right at being garden-like. So I know what CAN be done.

    Growing up in a mix of farming/ranching and city, and then living fulltime for a few years on a ranch, I've never felt divorced from "nature". What with hunting and fishing and hiking around, I've always felt like the whole deal was a "system", whether or not I ever knew the word as a kid.

    Little stuff, like leaving a 20-foot fence row in brush, "for the critters", in cultivated lands. Let some brush come back in clumps, in pasture land, as habitat. Undergraze with livestock, operating below the carrying capacity so you never hurt the land.

    In my desert country where I now live, the limitation for wildlife is water, not browse. So, I have worked to augment water supplies at scattered locations.

    I dunno. I go wandering around the back country, and I always sorta feel like it's another room in my house. All of it's "home".

    'Rat
     
  5. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #5
    I couldn't agree more.

    'Rat, the debate continues about the origins of people in the New World. I've heard that some French archaeologists have dates going back to the 30,000 - 40,000 BCE range. If true it blows the accepted Clovis culture theories out of the water. The stuff about the Amazon is highly speculative. It's all interesting and amazing stuff, but I don't see that it has much of an impact on what we should do now relative environmental protection. I've got to go with Ugg's view listed above.
     
  6. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Yeah, "stewardship" is a great word. Minimal impact is sorta built into that, I think. You take care of stuff so that at worst it's still just as good for the next generation as for this one.

    And that gets me back to educating parents as well as teachers and TPTB as to school curricula, so that the kids come out knowing that there is a balance to be struck between meeting human needs and taking care of the source...
     
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    Add "respect" to "stewardship" and you've got me on board.

    I was reading just today in my LA Times about the problems the Forest Service and residents in and around the Sierra Nevadas are having with the armies of off-roaders invading the forests with their motorbikes and ORVs. Local law enforcement, home owners and the Forest Service are completely overwhelmed by the rising tide of off-road yahooism. The forests are being ravaged, private property violated, and people who try to stop it, threatened. The sense of entitlement expressed by the off-roaders is fairly astonishing. They even hold regular work parties to remove blockades on private roads put there to prevent them from using them.
     
  8. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #8
    Absolutely! We are here for better or worse and we need to eat, wear clothes and have shelter. There is no need though for us to use up every last bit of the planet's resources. Here in redwood country there are plenty of tree sitters and plenty of bumper stickers proclaiming, "Forests, America's renewable resource". They both have a point. Fewer than 5% of the old-growth redwood forests are in existence and they are fragmented. How can any reasonable person say that this last little bit isn't worth saving? At the same time, houses continue to be built from wood and we all consume paper products in some form.

    It would be nice if a less antagonistic approach could be taken. Probably won't happen but the more rules that are put up the more they are likely to be broken. I've no sympathy for the timber industry, their demise was just a few more years down the road anyway given that there are damn few trees left. We need to learn to manage what is left. Just as deficit spending is paid by future generations so is deficit natural resource extraction. Whether oil, water, wood, air or soil.

    Look what's happening in Indonesia. It's not very pretty.
     
  9. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    "...rising tide of off-road yahooism. The forests are being ravaged, private property violated, and people who try to stop it, threatened. The sense of entitlement expressed by the off-roaders is fairly astonishing."

    Isn't this symptomatic of behavior around this country, generally?

    For instance, historically, all streambeds of "navigable waterways" in the State of Texas belonged to the state. As these were the best "highways" in the early days, the law came to be that they were open to all travellers. (The same holds for the Gulf Beaches.) Nowadays, of course, canoers and rafters are the main users of flowing rivers.

    But, dry streambeds fell within the legal daffynition of "navigable". Ergo, I could not say anything when folks on 2-cycle bikes and ATVs played along Terlingua Creek through my property. However, if they left the area within the cutbanks, their butts were mine--and the Sheriff's.

    Abuse of this legal right saw the recent Legislature change the law. Nobody can traverse dry riverbeds without the adjacent landowner's permission.

    The obvious problem on public lands is the money for law enforcement...

    Ugg, I gotta take issue with "I've no sympathy for the timber industry, their demise was just a few more years down the road anyway given that there are damn few trees left."

    While it varies across the country, replanting is quite common over most of it. And, in the southern forests, the replanting is not just pulpwood pine; it includes hardwoods and timber-pine (commonly called "fat southern pine" where "fat" refers to the sap).

    I don't know how much clear-cutting on steep slopes is now allowed. It once was rampant--and it's harmful. Spot cutting of specific trees doesn't hurt the overall ecosystem; if properly sited, it can add to the diversity of the understory.

    I don't like the road-building subsidies, of course.

    What I find interesting is the competition with wood from new types of housing construction. Metal-framed wall-sections of styrofoam-like materials can give you R-30 insulation, which is much better than the common R-13 of stick-framing with 2x4 studs. With trained crews, it's quite cost-competitive. Same for the "studs" made of boxed sheet-metal, used also for joists and beams. This is reducing the demand for all but such as plywood and wood for furniture.

    'Rat
     
  10. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #10
    Yes, I suppose it is. But we were talking about the qualities of stewardship and respect, which are as absent where our natural resources are concerned as they are generally in our culture. Maybe that's why we have so many rules and regulations. We could have far fewer strictures of all kinds if we behaved well voluntarily.
     
  11. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Amen, Brother Reilly, amen...

    Whatever type of behavior you see "out on the street" will generally be common to "out in the boonies", "in the boardroom" or "on the assembly line".

    'Rat
     
  12. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

    Rower_CPU

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    #12
    That's the catch. Man now is no more inherently "less good" than he was pre-New World or pre-civilization.

    Our systems of laws and regulations are such a sad attempt to duplicate the systems of order that were in place for millennia (and are still in place in aboriginal people's cultures) before some folks in the Fertile Crescent decided that they had the one right way to live and that they were going to make sure everyone else knew about it.
     
  13. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #13
    Sometimes I take up this line of reasoning in debates with libertarians. Not to cast aspersions or to overly generalize, but in my experience a great many people who chafe at rules and regulations are more interested in behaving badly without being held accountable then in behaving responsibly on a voluntary basis.

    This is an interesting philosophical issue (to me at least). If human beings were more capable of regulating their own egos, we could live in a kind of blissful anarchy, free from much if any amount of externally-imposed order. Ironically, the anarchic personality seems predisposed to amoral and antisocial behavior. The less order imposed on them, the more they will exploit others for their own gain. Rules and regulations are created to protect people from those who have no ability to regulate their own desires.

    Rand's objectivism attempts to reconcile this fundamental conflict by labeling all expressions of ego as inherently moral and all those who'd prevent someone from expressing their ego as inherently immoral. This is why I've always thought objectivism was a silly and simplistic excuse for a philosophy, because it attempts to detour around one of humanity's central questions.
     
  14. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

    Rower_CPU

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    #14
    I'm not invoking Rand in my statement. I'm not talking ego and morality at all, which are products of our culture.

    It is inherent in man to misbehave. Compared to other previous and current cultures, our culture's systems of laws and regulations attempt to dissuade misbehavior and punish it rather than just deal with it in the manner that benefits society most.

    It is silly to expect man to be "better" than he is.
     
  15. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #15
    I realize you did not invoke Rand. I did, as an example of an effort to reconcile what seems to me to be the irreconcilable in human nature -- the desire to live free from the strictures of other human beings and the simultaneous desire to live in harmony with others. I doubt this problem can be resolved, and I surely don't think Rand managed it with objectivism.

    Whether ego and morality are products of culture is debatable, but also immaterial to my point. We cannot escape either, even assuming we wanted to. The tension between humanity's desire to live free of rules and the inevitable consequences of such a state can't be ignored, and I find a lot of people attempt to do so (often, devotees of Rand, because essentially that was her message). The rather simplistic resolution that Rand proposed was to accept the consequences, more or less, as a kind of ideal human destiny (the clever taking full advantage of the less clever); the only limitation being physical violence. That's an arbitrary distinction and for my money goes a long way towards illustrating the fundamental problem posed by efforts to construct a theoretical ideal society free of rules.

    So yes, it might well be silly to expect man to be better then he is, but it is also silly to expect some sort of ideal society to evolve from anarchy. Once that principle is understood, it's much easier to see why rules and regulations governing human interaction are needed.
     
  16. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

    Rower_CPU

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    #16
    Who said anything about anarchy?

    Tribal cultures are very organized and are anything but a free-for-all. There are rules, but not an "arbitrary" set of laws that we know people will break.
     
  17. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #17
    I did. Anarchy is defined as the absence of rules or authority. The presence of rules implies that someone will break them if they are not enforced by some sort of authority (blue uniforms and black robes not being the only way). Tribal rules aren't any different in principle, though because of the closeness of tribal societies, they may be able to get by with far fewer explicit rules, because presumably the social order dictates behavior. This goes towards my point about the nature of rules and the self-regulation of behavior. If you have more of the latter, you need less of the former.
     
  18. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #18
    at least for me, the computer has been a great paper-saver...i don't take the newspaper anymore and i don't subscribe to any magazines...i basically get all my news and special interest leisure reading from the internet

    i remember how much paper in forms of newspapers and magazines used to clutter the house...my father, on the other hand, is from the world war II generation and he never got used to reading anything on a computer...when he sees something interesting worth reading on the internet, he prints it up and ends up will all types of stories and emails cluttering his desk
     

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