Excerpts from Introduction to Third Phase Transition: Solving The Anthropocene Crisis

On the first metabolic phase

“Restricting the phase concept to Homo sapiens, and to several contemporary and closely related species now gone extinct, the phase of harvesting metabolism spans a few hundred thousand years. The exact dating, socio-genetic causation chain, crossbreeding of species, socio-ecological feedback loops, indicative set of species-specific features, cultural breakthroughs, et cetera remain open to conflicting interpretations, which in turn have varied over time. These issues, however, are not essential to the basic conceptualisations proposed here. The period from the emergence of modern humans and up until the Holocene, which roughly corresponds to the Penultimate and Last Glacial Periods, would then be considered the phase of human harvesting metabolism.

The nomadic mode of living, and the migrating tendency, bear witness to human developments still being a restlessly embedded part within natural evolution and, at the same time, its tendency to increasingly segregate through cooperation. The hunters and gatherers were still following the food to harvest, fleeing unhospitable conditions of rapid and radical climate change and more short-term natural devastation, et cetera, just like during the first phase transition. In this respect, the humans of the first phase might be perceived as still bearing some external resemblance to foraging and hunting animals. But in their internally combined type of struggle for survival they had become radically different. Natural evolutionary they were already our equals, although still socially hindered by more scarce means of cooperation.”

“For most part of this first phase, an unknown number of hominin species had coexisted evolutionarily. Recent findings show that Neanderthals, Denisovans, and others were to partially become assimilated into Homo sapiens through interbreeding. Gene sequencing has also shown that all humans living today have their common dominant genetic ancestry in a small endangered population. The epic drama of our species seems to have started out by a near extinction-experience…”

“At the interface of humans and surrounding nature, sapiens, as well as other human species, had conquered one decisive natural force – the control of fire. After the human fire regime had evolved, from preserving embers of wildfire, to proper making of fire, an artificial regularity had been introduced into the circular processes of natural ecology. Human society’s fire regime had become an ecocycle in the earth system. Human needs for shelter, hunting, cooking, and clearing of ground, had benefitted plant and animal species adapting to regular fires. Savanna had spread, and with it the grass eating mammals, suitable as human prey. Thus, human cooperativity had begun changing the ecology of Planet Earth. Finally, burn beating would become a forerunner of agriculture.”

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