A Changing Planet

On Twitter, Charles C. Mann points to an interesting blog post at The Archaeobotanist, covering recent research that shows large-scale human influence on the environment as far back as 6,000–3,000 BC. It’s interesting research, and it crystallizes something I felt this weekend when I visited the “Genesis” exhibit at the ROM.

Photographer Sebastião Salgado went all around the world in search of pristine wilderness and the people and animals that live there. But what exactly does “pristine” really mean, if humans have been around and changing the environment for so long? The photographs are simply spectacular, but the exhibit makes the assumption that whatever was the state of nature when we first arrived must have been the situation since time immemorial. In a changing world, that’s a bad assumption to make. (Mann’s book 1491 is full of examples of such changes.)

And if you’re in Toronto in the next four months, go to the ROM to see “Genesis.”


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