Food at Present

The Globe

Today, hunter-gatherers exist only in the Amazon Basin, the Arctic, and the few other places where hunting-gathering is still (or until recently was) more productive than agriculture, and even in these few areas hunter-gatherers depend in part on thier neighbors' agricultural economies. (Patterns in Prehistory)

For the individual with too few things to worry about, we might note that there is a certain danger in the fact that almost all the world's population now depends for most of its subsistence on only about twenty genera of plants. As hybrid strains are replacing local varieties at an ever-increasing rate, the chances for truly catastrophic mutations of new crop diseases are growing, particularly with expected worldwide changes in climate. The transition to economies based on domesticated plants and animals thus is a process still in operation and one whose future direction is unclear. We have every reason to believe that the continuing destruction and extinction of plant communities in the Amazon Basin and elsewhere in the developing world will eventually be recognized as irremediable catastrophes. As we have noted previously, in the evolutionary game in which all of earth's life-forms participate, there is usually great advantage to the maintenance of genetic variability. We are so mutually interdependent with plants and animals that loss of variety in the non-human biological world will almost certainly come back to haunt us. (Patterns in Prehistory)

...if the climate returned to the chaotic behaviour at the end of the last ice age, agriculture would only be possible in the most blessed parts of the world: modern-day refugia. The examples of the development of agriculture in the mid-Holocene in southern Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley reinforce this point. They show that even in a climatically benign period, it was only those places with the most reliable supplies of water that were capable of sustaining agriculture for centuries or millennia. Although agriculture has thrived in temperate latitudes for several millennia, the prospect of much more variable weather would pose a major challenge to maintaining modern yields. (Climate Change in Prehistory)



Southwest Asia




Indus Valley






South America

In modern times, the Altiplano is subject to prolonged and severe droughts punctuated by seasons of disastrously heavy rains that cause flooding. The air is thin and does not retain much moisture or heat. Daily, temperatures show wide fluctuations and frosts can occur any time I of year, making agriculture a constant struggle. Hail and winds also impact crops and only highly adapted, hardy, short-season tubers and grains can be grown. Agronomists say that just 20 percent of the Andean food crops are grown above 10,000 feet today. (The Genesis Race)



North America