Ecological Economics, Nov, 2013, Vol.95, p.137(11)
To link to full-text access for this article, visit this link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.08.006 Byline: John Gowdy, Lisi Krall Abstract: The current geological epoch has been dubbed the Anthropocene -- the age of humans. We argue that the roots of the Anthropocene lie in the agricultural revolution that began some 8000years ago. Unique human psychological and cultural characteristics were present in our distant hunter-gatherer past, but in terms of the biophysical impact of our species, agricultural represented an unequivocal and decisive evolutionary break. With the transition to agriculture human society began to function as a superorganism functioning as a single unit designed by social natural selection to produce economic surplus. Where environmental conditions were permitted, early human agricultural societies followed the same pattern as a few social insects and exhibited explosive population growth, complex and detailed division of labor, intensive resource exploitation, territorial expansion, and a social organization favoring the survival and growth of the supergroup over the well-being of individuals within the group. Similar economic forces lie behind ultrasociality in social insects and humans -- increased productivity from the division of labor, increasing returns to scale, and the exploitation of stocks of productive resources. Exploring the evolutionary mechanisms behind ultrasociality offers insights into the growth imperative that threatens the stability of the earth's life support systems. Article History: Received 4 February 2013; Revised 17 June 2013; Accepted 6 August 2013 Article Note: (footnote) [star] We would like to acknowledge the contribution of discussions with the participants in a series of workshops organized by the Evolution Institute and funded by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) at Duke University and a workshop "Evolution and Bioeconomics" at Ringberg Castle, Germany sponsored by the Max Planck Institute at Jena. This paper builds on an earlier one making the case that agriculture was an ultrasocial transition (Gowdy and Krall, 2013).
Natural Selection -- Social Aspects ; Agricultural Associations -- Social Aspects
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