A global history of land use

May 15, 2013

Steve Vavrus senior scientist with the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research

Steve Vavrus, a senior scientist in the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, has coauthored a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggesting that humans have likely been transforming land cover on a global scale far earlier in time than is commonly believed. 

The interdisciplinary team of researchers cites evidence that early agriculture was much less efficient than modern practices; therefore, the per capita land use by ancient farmers was much higher than contemporary usage.  

Their conclusions support the premise that humans were unknowingly affecting global climate for thousands of years before the advent of industrialization.

The findings were published in the May 14 issue of PNAS.