From forest to farmland and meadow to metropolis, or, when did the Anthropocene begin?
Did humans affect global climate before the Industrial Era? While this question is hotly debated, the co-evolution of humans and the natural environment since the last Ice Age had an undisputed role in influencing the development and present state of terrestrial ecosystems. Yet we still have a very incomplete picture of human-environment interactions over the last 21,000 years, both spatially and temporally.
In order to address this problem, Jed Kaplan has prepared a new synthesis of demographic, technological, and economic development over preindustrial time, and a database of historical urbanization covering the last 8000 years. These data are combined with a dynamic global vegetation model to quantify the magnitude and timing of global anthropogenic land cover change in the late Pleistocene and preindustrial Holocene. His results highlight the importance of the long histories of both climate change and human demographic, economic, and technological history on the development of continental-scale landscapes. Kaplan emphasizes the need for improved datasets that use archaeological data synthesis and build on recent theory of preindustrial economic and technological change.
Jed Kaplan was born in Berkeley, California USA. He studied Earth Sciences and Geography at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire USA and received his Ph.D. in Plant Ecology at Lund University, Sweden in 2001. Jed held postdoctoral fellowships in Germany, Canada, Italy and Switzerland, and became a Swiss National Science Foundation Professor in 2008. He held professorships at the Federal Technical University of Lausanne, the University of Geneva, and the University of Lausanne. He is currently senior scientist at ARVE Research GmbH and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
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