Often we can hear that it is the modern “civilized” humans that exploit and destroy the nature, while the indigenous cultures lived in good balance with the land for many generations. Was this always the rule? The way in which the latest extinction of megafauna happened suggest otherwise.
“Outside the mainland of Afro-Eurasia, these megafaunal extinctions followed a highly distinctive landmass-by-landmass pattern that closely parallels the spread of humans into previously uninhabited regions of the world, and which shows no overall correlation with climatic history . Australia was struck first around 45,000 years ago, followed by Tasmania about 41,000 years ago (after formation of a land bridge to Australia about 43,000 years ago), Japan apparently about 30,000 years ago, North America 13,000 years ago,South America about 500 years later, Cyprus 10,000 years ago, the Antilles 6,000 years ago, New Caledonia and nearby islands 3,000 years ago,Madagascar 2,000 years ago, New Zealand 700 years ago, the Mascarenes 400 years ago, and the Commander Islands 250 years ago. Nearly all of the world’s isolated islands could furnish similar examples of extinctions occurring shortly after the arrival of humans, though most of these islands, such as the Hawaiian Islands, never had terrestrial megafauna, so their extinct fauna were smaller.
An analysis of the timing of Holarctic megafaunal extinctions and extirpations over the last 56,000 years has revealed a tendency for such events to cluster within interstadials, periods of abrupt warming, but only when humans were also present. Humans may have impeded processes of migration and recolonization that would otherwise have allowed the megafaunal species to adapt to the climate shift. “
Stone age humans, as close to nature as anyone could be, were bringing the destruction as soon as they could, everywhere they spread. All our ancestors did it. Only then, when perhaps the easy prey was gone, the balance in new ecosystems eventually was established. That’s how Nature works. Any species suddenly received an advantage would spread till stopped by famine, predators and disease.
Only now, when our intelligence has grown enough, we started to think about future. We don’t want to spread till we have to starve because there’s no more resources. We want to study and save other species, even ones which have no nutritional or aesthetic value for us.
There’s no need to do human-bashing. We’ve been very “natural” so far in our desire to spread and conquer. Then our intelligence happened, completely naturally too. Perhaps other intelligent species will rise on this Earth later. We don’t really know if they are going to be gentle with their environment. For us, it is time to search for the new balance on the new level.