Provocation # 199 migrations and climate
Provocation . Just back from Malaysia working with others to set up an initiative on global warming, a hopefully more holistic approach to economics, philosophy, politics [All three of these words come from Athens.]
While there I met Stephen Oppenheimer who wrote out of Eden, the history of how humanity under pressures of climate change for a couple of hundred thousand years responded with a combination of DNA changes and migrations. I like this because it was an overview of our human history without any explicit reference to Economics. Economics could not have existed yet because it means household management and there were no households: there were groups on the move. South Asia was one large landmass including all of the islands. When a new melting happened, all the land flooded and the people dispersed, and they carried their DNA with them to many other parts of the world. The Bering Straits, for example, was a landmass larger than India. It is an amazingly dynamic story and one cannot help but feel for the lives lived and lost in these events.
But the similarity to our own time, the climate change, large migrations, and the conflicts of populations on the move also is deeply poignant and maybe terrifying, because it’s our time not yet history’s.
“I guess it will depend immediately on what our various cultures drive us to do to ourselves and to our environment. Our aggressive behaviour, aided by the demands our growing populations make on our environment, give us the unwanted capacity to impose stress or even to extinguish our species. Our white-hot modern technology would not be able to burn an escape hole from the impoverished prison our small planet might become for the majority of its inhabitants. How we adapt to our fouled nest, and avoid fouling it further, again depends on our immediate capacity to evolve our culture. If we do survive another near-extinction, self-imposed or otherwise, our successors may be biologically different, but there is no doubt that they will be culturally different”
I am really delighted when we find a new voice.
Out of Eden: The Peopling of the World