ORIGIN STORY: Agricultural Development, c. 8,000 years before present (ybp)
“The Anthropocene actually began thousands of years ago as a result of the discovery of agriculture and subsequent technological innovations in the practice of farming.” William F. Ruddiman (2003, 2005, 2010)
This story explains the records of human-caused increases in greenhouse gases trapped in glacial ice. Beginning the story of the Anthropocene with the rise of agriculture, particularly the cultivation of rice, links environmental change with the most fundamental requirement of human life: our need to eat. This story makes human impact on the environment inevitable; it is difficult to imagine a solution to the problem of human impact in a return to a simpler time. This story may, however, foster self-consciousness about eating practices and associated technologies, including domestication of animals, plants, land, soil, and water. It asks us to consider the consequences of cultivation and domestication and to ask how we might use agricultural technologies in ways that actually benefit the land.