I have long assumed (without much evidence) that mankind invented agriculture about 10,000 years ago because we suddenly, for some reason, became smarter. Now I see an alternative explanation:
It is no accident that no matter where agriculture sprouted on the
globe, it always happened near rivers. You might assume, as many have,
that this is because the plants needed the water or nutrients. Mostly
this is not true. They needed the power of flooding, which scoured
landscapes and stripped out competitors. Nor is it an accident, I
think, that agriculture arose independently and simultaneously around
the globe just as the last ice age ended, a time of enormous upheaval
when glacial melt let loose sea-size lakes to create tidal waves of
erosion. It was a time of catastrophe.
Here is the source. Should I take the author seriously? Most of the article is terrible.
His main kind of argument — thinking about food in terms of energy costs — is popping up more and more. No, I don’t think a quick perusal of Debreu’s Theory of Value refutes the resource pessimists, but a) the author rarely talks about the role of prices, and b) technological efficiency and economic efficiency are confused frequently.
Perhaps most disturbingly, a healthy, wealthy, and happy human life is considered a burden upon the earth. For instance we are told that if the entire world lived like the United States, fossil fuels would run out within seven year’s time, or maybe ten. What a horror such a world would be. There is no talk of how much higher the rate of invention would be, or how much we would save by having better institutions.
By the way, here is my highly relevant post on the economics of mulch.