- Jun 2019
Chapter 1 of the text described how Eurasian peoples who were descendants of Africans, expanded and spread throughout the world influenced by environmental climate cycles and natural resources. Chapter 2 is about these groups who are now culturally and genetically distinctive after twelve thousand years of separation coming back into contact with each other and some of the disastrous results as a result. Columbas’s fleet was not the first contact between Europeans and Native Americans; it is likely that the Vikings were. The Vikings established colonies and interacted with some of the indigenous tribes of Canida as early as 1000 CE, almost 2500 years before Columbus. However, these Viking colonies did not last. It is likely the environment was a key factor in their failure. Beginning the 14th century, there was a mini ice age which occurred and lasted for four hundred years. It appears that increased cold temperatures made resupply of these colonies impossible, and it is also likely that food production was negatively impacted
When Columbas was approved by the Spanish crown to sail, Europe was thriving economically and its population was growing due to the large expansion and productivity of fishing. The text estimates that the global population was approximately 500 million “evenly split between Europe, Africa, and the Americas” While Columbus did not discover an empty continent, in a few hundred years, the virgin soil epidemics would make that a reality in some regions of the Americas.
It was the environment that forced Columbus to dock (permanently) with America when the Santa Maria “ran aground” on Christmas Day December 25th in 1492. After meeting with the local tribe, Columbus returned with two ships and some natural resources, including gold, wildlife, and crops, and wrote “Letter on the First Voyage” exaggerating some of his findings so as to receive approval to make another trip. In addition, Columbus transported native plants and animals of Central America back to Europe.
As travel to the Americas increased, Europeans brought over many plants and animals that affected the American environment. New crops and livestock were introduced, and horses were also brought over which greatly changed the culture of the Great Plains Indians. As previously stated, Europeans also brought over very significant trait: their germs. It is likely that up to 90% of the American Indian population in 250 years died as a result of these germs. The reason that the conquistadors were successful in conquering some of the American Indian Civilizations was that the disease had already decimated their civilizations and societies and prevented the indigenous populations from effectively fighting back. Europeans owed much of their inherited immunity from these viruses to their contact with their livestock, which was not present in the Native American tribes. Some large native cities experienced such large population die-offs, that new European cities were built right on top of the old ones (Mexico City) because very few inhabitants were left
Chapter 2 provides more information about how the environment altered the course of history for indigenous Americans and the European explorers. It is clear that with every significant historical event or trend, the environment had a causal role- impacting the decisions and ultimately histories of those involved.