Early Humans and the Environment
Early humans were quite different from modern humans. Modern humans have many technologies and advances that we take for granted. In my lifetime (1982 - present) I have seen the five and a half inch floppy yield to the dvd, cloning of sheep and other advances in the fields of math, science, and engineering. Humans and Pre-Humans have always been developing, either intentionally or unintentionally, technologies that were either necessary for the continuation of life, or for the improved quality of life, thus changing the environment.
Early humans lived by hunting and gathering, affecting their environment only minimally. There was a small human population that supported itself by hunting, gathering, and scavenging until about ten thousand years ago (Ponting 19). Ponting asserts that these early human groups lived in conjunction with the environment, planning their migration and food consumption patterns around environmental cycles (Ponting 20). In this case, the environment has more control over humans than humans have over the environment. Gathering and scavenging are much easier for hunter-gatherers than hunting, because with hunting, humans faced additional difficulties and hazards not associated with gathering and scavenging. Not only were there these additional factors, the success rate of hunting was low - top carnivores only make a kill once in every ten tries, so most of the protein in early humans' diets came from scavenging (Ponting 21-22). Early humans also seemed to employ some sort of population control, so that they did not overstress the environment. This type of population planning shows foresight on the part of early humans, and though it can be argued that selective infanticide, selecting for female infants so that there would not be as large an exponential increase in the human population when these children matured, and the abandonment of the elderly would not be humane in these contemporary times, it was necessary for the early hunter-gatherers in order to reduce pressure on the environment (Ponting 23).
Hunting and gathering changed the environment minimally according to Clive Ponting, and eventually humans had a more direct interaction with the environment due to the development of agriculture. In the case of Easter Island, human interaction with the environment actually lead to the demise of that civilization when that interaction became unsustainable and destructive. The early Easter Islanders understood that there were only a few resources on that tiny little island (Ponting 3). The only crop the land could support was the sweet potato, and since it wasn't a very demanding crop, the Easter Islanders were able to develop a culturally sophisticated civilization, complete with religious and ceremonial activity. Unfortunately, the religious/ceremonial activity...