Popular Science

Humans have been messing with the climate for thousands of years

By clearing forests and raising animals, early farmers cranked up the global thermostat, possibly preventing another ice age.
Antique farming tools

Antique farming tools


Thousands of years ago, ancient farmers grew oats, corn and wheat, just as they do today. They also cultivated rice and raised livestock. But a millennia ago, they cleared much more land than modern day farmers do, despite having fewer people to feed. That’s because farming was far less efficient. Mechanized harvesters didn’t exist, and growers had yet to develop crops that could be planted in tightly packed rows, yielding more food from less space.

All those years of agricultural inefficiency likely had a lasting impact on the, if not for these earliest agronomists, Earth might be significantly cooler today than it is.

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