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BEACON TRANSCRIPT – It is a known fact that, throughout the ages, humanity has irreversibly altered the environment. Most scientists agree that global warming the unequivocal sign of man trying to tame nature began after industrialization. A new study reveals that early humans set Madagascar’s wood ablaze, showing man’s inclination to meddle in Nature’s affairs.
A team of scientists from MIT and the University of Massachusetts Amherst has reasons to believe that man was trying to tame Nature long before the age of industrialization. Moreover, the scientists pointed out that Earth didn’t begin to lose acres upon acres of forest in order to fuel the engine of industry. In fact, this whole process started more than a thousand years ago.
According to their findings, which were later published in the Quaternary Science Reviews, the early inhabitants of Madagascar managed to scorch entire acres of forest in order to make room for pastures and cattle.
Now, how did the team find out what happened a thousand years ago? Fossils? Artifacts? Nothing like that. The clue that led them to this momentous discovery was lodged inside an ancient cave formation.
During their research of the green canopy of Madagascar, the scientists found many answers by analyzing several stalagmites found inside ancient caves. Stalagmites, as opposed to stalactites, are pieces of rock shaped like a cone which comes out of the ground. These rock formations usually occur when water percolates from underground and finds its way to the surface.
Upon performing a chemical analysis on the stalagmites, the researchers have discovered that over a thousand years ago, the levels of calcium carbon shifted a little. According to their results, in just one hundred years, the calcium carbon signature changed from trees to grassland. This means that in this brief interval, the scientists were not capable of picking up the carbon isotope ratio which denotes the presence of trees or shrubs.
All they could pick up was the ratio belonging to meadows or grasslands. Of course, this new discovery managed to spark yet another session of debates regarding global warming. Was indeed global warming responsible for the loss of Madagascar’s green canopy?
The scientists declared that this was unlikely. The chemical analysis revealed that the levels of oxygen isotopes remained the same in that period. However, they also declared that we should take into account human intervention.
According to their hypothesis, early humans set Madagascar’s woods ablaze. We know that the early inhabitants settled in Madagascar approximately 3000 years ago. But, according to the scientists, the society formed there shifted to a more agrarian lifestyle approximately 1000 years ago. Thus, it makes perfect sense that early human began to burn away the green canopy in order to make room for pastures.