Ancient Man-Made Global Warming and Environmental Engineering

Many Americans doubt man-made global warming because they don’t think humans could so fundamentally change the world. Some believe only God could alter the climate. But small groups of Homo sapiens have been re-engineering the environment on a massive scale for thousands of years, using only primitive tools. Many scientist think that includes ancient man-made global warming.

The bison: greatest beneficiary of Native American environmental engineering?

Most of us know that humans have been cutting down forests and wiping out animal species for millennia. But we rarely recognize the scale of past people’s impact Continue reading “Ancient Man-Made Global Warming and Environmental Engineering”

Pre-Columbian Cotton Armor: Better than Steel

According to Jared Diamond, the Spanish conquered the Aztecs and Incas with guns, germs, and steel. At first blush, his conclusion seems undeniable. But I’m actually not so sure about the steel. If steel gave the Spanish such an advantage in the 1500’s, why did so many conquistadors abandon their European breastplates in favor of Aztec and Inca cotton armor?

cotton armor in action: Native Mexicans vs. conquistadors
Native Mexicans vs. conquistadors (facsimile of a mid-1500’s illustration).

Continue reading “Pre-Columbian Cotton Armor: Better than Steel”