Prehistoric agriculture and climate change

August 18, 2009
Methane levels and the rise of (extensive) farming in Europe and Asia

Methane levels and the rise of (extensive) farming in Europe and Asia (The Economist)

Here’s a new article in The Economist showing evidence of climate change in the ice polars caps at the same time agrarian societies emerged.

The ice-core record shows that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere made an anomalous upturn about 7,000 years ago, and that methane levels, which were also falling, began to increase about 5,000 years ago. These numbers correspond well with the rise of farming in Europe and Asia.

It appears that the extensive farming method used by early farmers was responsible of a more than proportional increase in methane, a greenhouse gas. Yet another point for Georgescu-Roegen and thermoeconomics.

Advertisements

This week in Economic History (May 25-29th, 2009)

May 25, 2009

On Monday the 25th and Tuesday the 26th, a conference on “Ambitions and Reality: Historical Perspectives on the Common Agricultural Policy” will be held in the Deutsches Historisches Institut in Paris. Also on Monday, Stephen Haber (Stanford University) will present a paper on the myth of the resource course in the Economic History Seminar in Mexico City.

On Wednesday the 27th, a workshop on “Les langues du commerce à l’époque moderne” will be held at the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, in Aix-en-Provence, France. You can contact Olivier Raveux if you wish more information on this event. Also on Wednesday, the VonGremp Workshop in Economic and Entrepreneurial History hosts Robert Margo (Boston University). Margo will present his paper Did Railroads Induce or Follow Economic Growth? Urbanization and Population Growth in the American Midwest, 1850-1860.

Read the rest of this entry »


Goldstone J. (2003) Agricultural Revolution in China

March 22, 2009

Goldstone, Jack A. (2003) “Feeding the people, starving the state: China’s Agricultural Revolution of the 17th/18th Centuries”, paper for the EHES Istanbul conference, 43p.

20080217-qing-empress1-guo-zong-ch-pgglobalrpt331picture-14

This article is available online

Introduction

The Chinese population jumped from 120 to 350 million between 1620 and 1800. Many historians have assumed that the necessary growth of the agricultural output had been reached through a process of “involution” (i.e. not through gains in labour productivity, but thanks to increased effort; p.1). This stagnation of the output per person has been seen as the reverse of what happened in England at the same time: the agricultural revolution (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »


North D.C. (1959) Agriculture and economic growth

March 20, 2009

North, Douglass C. (1959) “Agriculture and Regional Economic Growth”, Journal of Farm Economics, 41/5, 943-951.

norma_wilson_original_oil_pig_farm_animals_portrait_art_11northpicture-13

Introduction
“There seems to be agreement amongst economist that agriculture contributes little to economic growth”. Worse it may even delay development as agricultural comparative advantage may attract production factors away from the most moderns sectors of the economy. At best, progress in agriculture is seen as a consequence rather than a cause of urban and industrial development (p.943). But the author argues that “the successful production of agricultural (or indeed most extractive) commodities for sale [outside of] the region can be and under certain conditions has been the prime influence inducing economic growth […] and eventually industrial development”. Read the rest of this entry »


Cheesy business

March 12, 2009

picture-41n663623343_378313_8223picture-51

I am presently in Morocco for research purposes. As the things were getting a bit slow in the last few days due to the public holiday meant to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet, I decided to indulge in my geekiness and I undertook a micro research. I am fascinated by the elegance of economic geography; I enjoy watching the market spread in space as much as others like to watch birds; so that’s just what I did, my Excel sheet in one hand and my binoculars in the other (for the birds, you never know). Read the rest of this entry »


Brenner, R (1976) Class struggle and development in pre-industrial Europe

February 9, 2009

Brenner, Robert (1976) “Agrarian class structure and economic development in pre-industrial Europe”, Past and Present, 70/1, 30-75.

picture-9picture-6peasants-1

Introduction

In this article, the author offers one of the most commented “general interpretations of the processes of long-term economic change in late medieval and early modern Europe”. He rejects the rigid Malthusian theory based solely on the laws of supply and demand and introduces class struggle as the key element driving European pre-industrial economic history (p.30). Read the rest of this entry »


Carville E. and Hoffman R. (1980) Why did industrialization happen in the North not the South?

January 17, 2009

Carville Earle and Hoffman Ronald (Dec. 1980) “The Foundation of the Modern Economy: Agriculture and the Costs of Labor in the United States and England, 1800-60” The American Historical Review 85/5: 1055-1094.


Introduction

Traditionally (so-called Habakkuk thesis), labour shortage is said to be the cause of the mechanization of the American agriculture in the early 19th century. The authors have compared the Northern grain-belt, the South slave-based and the English agriculture to check that claim. In the North (monoculture), extensive use of labour was only necessary for the harvest, which created an available and cheap workforce for the urban industries, and allowed savings to be invested in mechanized agriculture. In England (diversified agriculture) and in the South, the labour season took most of the year hence the wages were going up. In the English case it hindered the use of machinery in the agriculture and in the South the industrial take off all together. Read the rest of this entry »