Stable climate and plant domestication linked

January 12, 2010

Sustainable farming and the introduction of new crops relies on a relatively stable climate, not dramatic conditions attributable to climate change. Basing their argument on evolutionary, ecological, genetic and agronomic considerations, Dr. Shahal Abbo, from the Levi Eshkol School of Agriculture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and colleagues, demonstrate why climate change is not the likely cause of plant domestication in the Near East.

Rather, the variety of in the Near East was chosen to function within the normal east Mediterranean rainfall pattern, in which good rainy years create enough surplus to sustain farming communities during drought years. In the authors' view, is unlikely to induce major cultural changes. Their thesis is published online in Springer's journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

Climate-based explanations for the beginning of new agricultural practices give environmental factors a central role, as prime movers for the cultural-economic change known as the Near Eastern Neolithic or Agricultural Revolution (about 8500 B.C., 10500 cal. B.P. [calibrated years before the present]). Dr. Abbo and team studied the traditional farming systems which existed until the early twentieth century in the Near East, looking for insights into the agronomic basis of the early days of Near Eastern farming, and to shed light on the possible role of climatic factors as stimuli for the Agricultural Revolution.

Their detailed analysis demonstrates that climate change could not have been the reason for the emergence of grain farming in the Near East. They find that farming requires a relatively stable climate to function as a sustainable economy and therefore is not a sustainable option in times of climatic deterioration.

The authors conclude, "We argue against climate change being at the origin of Near Eastern agriculture and believe that a slow but real climatic change is unlikely to induce revolutionary cultural changes."

Explore further: Pig study sheds new light on the colonisation of Europe by early farmers

More information: Abbo S et al (2010). Yield stability: an agronomic perspective on the origin of Near Eastern Agriculture. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany; DOI:10.1007/s00334-009-0233-7

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GrayMouser
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2010
In the authors' view, climate change is unlikely to induce major cultural changes.

Are we now immune to climate induced cultural changes? Historically climate changes have drive significant changes in culture and technology. A climate change drove migrant peoples in to the vast river valleys (ex. Indus and Nile river basins.) A later change (cooling) drove a major change in Europe that led to separation of classes and industrialization.
operator
5 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2010
think your missing the thrust of what this study is saying greymouser, it's relating agrecultural practices to a climatic event in the fertile cresent not cultural changes anywhere else.

on an aside from the main topic, we could also look at how past civilisations, the inca and astecs for example, who over stretched their natural resources and it seems were not able to sustain they lifstyles in the face a climatic shift leading to their civilisations downfall.
story sound familiar at all?

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