“What you don’t see in the archeological record (for hunter-gatherers) is chronic starvation, chronic hunger … all those deficiency diseases do not, they just don’t appear in hunter-gatherer’s bones. So this is why, uh, and archeologists can look at a skeleton and tell you literally within 10 seconds whether it came from a hunter-gatherer or whether it came from an agriculturalist because the hunter-gatherer’s bones are long and strong and dense and disease free. There are no diseases in these bones. When you look at the bones of farmers, and this is around the world, it doesn’t matter where, the first thing that happens is human being shrink six inches and our teeth fall out and the bones are absolutely riddled with these diseases and they’re short and they’re brittle. And clearly, people’s health took an absolute nosedive. And that includes constant hunger and also periodic absolute famine, where literally thousands, if not millions of people would die during these famines. And, you can see (how) in imperial China (for instance), you can read how they changed the laws every so often to say, it’s legal to sell dead children in the marketplace because you’re all starving. So go ahead and sell the corpses and eat them. Like that’s how institutionalized hunger becomes. And it simply isn’t true for hunter-gatherers. You have your territory, this is your homeland and you migrate through, everybody knows where to go to find the best food, around the year, in the winter it’s going to be protected valleys and, in the summer you might go to the river or to the coastline where there’s plenty of seafood.”
“Everybody knows kind of the rhythm of the year and where the best food is to be found. And very crucially, they’re also very aware of how many babies they have. Like everybody knows, sort of what the ratio is between productive outs and dependence, which are mostly going to be children. Um, and everybody knows what to do to keep that ratio in line. And with farmers that gets completely broken. Farming, it’s an activity that requires, it’s essentially backbreaking labor from dawn till dusk. Farmers just never stop. And the reason is because it’s a war against the natural world and that’s what farming is. You have to clear all the life off a plot of land and keep it cleared. And then you have to do this a very unnatural thing of planting these annual seeds over and over and over again. So you’re fighting life each and every season, you know, d because of course those plants and those animals want to return.”
“That’s their home and you have to keep them off. So you have to plow, and this is just a tremendous amount of activity. And then you have to pray that you get rain in the right amounts at the right time or else, in fact, there’s no food. And this is what hunter-gathers don’t go through because there’s always food in nature. There’s always something to eat because you haven’t destroyed your land base. So there’s always more food coming. The trees will produce more, the bushes will produce more. There’s always going to be more deer are more pheasants or more salmon or whatever it is that grows where you live. And that’s not true for the agriculturalist. They’ve got nothing but those, those annual crops. And if that fails, well, you’ve got famine and there’s nowhere to go, you’re just going to starve and hopefully, somebody survives.””We get told this myth that this (agriculture) was a wonderful step forward, but there’s not actually any evidence for that. The archeological evidence shows that hunger begins with farming. And, of course, it shows very quickly that human society completely degenerates as well. And the reason for this is because it’s a drawdown, so it’s overshoot and drawdown, and when you have people living in population densities, that requires the importation of resources. You’re going to need a military to go out and get those resources. And your neighbors, they’re not going to give you their stuff. They want their water, they want their trees, they want their fish. You can’t just have them, they need them, and you’ve used up your own. If you have degraded your own, the carrying capacity of your own land, such that there is no food, there is no water, there are no trees, there’s no energy, there’s no food, you’ve used it all up. You’ve turned it into concrete. You’re going to have to go out and get that from somewhere else. And, that’s why agricultural societies end up militarized, it may take a thousand years, but eventually, you’ve burned through the soil. You’ve destroyed everything, and now you need to go and get it.”
The other thing about agriculture is that you get this temporary (military) advantage if you’re willing to destroy your forest to make giant warships, you will have an advantage against your neighbors who haven’t been willing to destroy their forest. You also have, because of the temporary surplus of agriculture, you get a stratified society where people can … specialize. And the very first thing that people specialize in is the military class. So you have an entire class of people whose job is simply war. And so those professionals, soldiers can go out and conquer the hinterland, the neighbors, turn them in the colonies, denude them of all their resources and that includes the human resources because they’re going to need slaves. So they take everything they want, they bring it back into the power center and that lasts a while. How long that lasts is generally between 800 to 2,000 years, which is literally the amount of time it takes to destroy the soil. the amount of time it takes to destroy the soil. That’s how long civilizations last. There’s not a single one that’s lasted more than 2000 years and it’s because the soil is destroyed doing agriculture … There have been 34 civilizations and they’ve all collapsed. They all follow this pattern where you have this, the population boom and then you have all the drawdown and all the trees, the mountains are deforested, the soils washing into the streams. All the fish are dead. It’s the same pattern over and over … whether it’s Rome or wherever, just name your giant city of the past. It’s the same pattern whether it’s South America, India, Europe, it’s the same pattern and eventually, the whole thing collapses … that’s where we are now, except we’ve added this accelerant of fossil fuel because by 1950 the world was out of topsoil. It was done … everything that could be taken had been taken and there should have been, and I’m not saying this is any fun, but there should have been that natural collapse, which is the end point of every civilization. And instead was what happened was we threw an accelerant onto this. We learned to eat fossil fuel. We make fertilizer out of oil and gas, so we quadrupled the world’s agricultural output, which meant that we quadrupled the human population.
“So, this is not actually a plan with a future because we’re still going to run out. Fossil fuel doesn’t multiply it. There’s going to come the day when it’s over, you know, instead of facing … what we’ve done … and you know, plan for a softer landing. But I, I just don’t see that any of the institutions that are in charge prepared to do that. So they just keep throwing more accelerant onto a raging fire and it’s not going to end well.”
“… this is a collision course with reality people. The soil is gone. Eventually, the oil and the gas going to be gone. What then, and this is, this is the absolute end point of agriculture. It’s always drawdown. It’s always overshoot. There’s not a good way to destroy your planet. (Agriculture) inherently destructive activity and it hasn’t meant anything good for humans either. Because I mean we know we can talk about what we know and don’t know about hunter gatherer populations, but you know more or less across the board they tend to be egalitarian. It’s really our only chance of being egalitarian because they’re not highly stratified societies, you don’t have this class based hierarchy with 90% of the population being enslaved and then you know, kind of the rest of everybody else kind of piling on top, the king, the royalty, the military class, the priest class. You have the ideology, you have the brute force, you’ve got everything you need to keep that 90% kind of at the bottom. And I’m going to just point out that in the year 1800, which is essentially the beginning of the fossil fuel age, three-quarters of the human beings alive on the planet were living in some form of slavery, indenture or serfdom, three quarters! So this is the ultimate nature of agriculture is that it immiserated human beings as well.
“So it’s not even like it made us happy to do this … It destroyed the planet. It’s destroyed human health and it destroyed human society.”