A conversation with Everest Gromoll, a research archaeologist and a regenerative agriculture entrepreneur, about the reasons why we need to go back 12000 years, look at the Holocene, the Anthropocene, the birth of agriculture and more.
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What can we learn from looking back to our ancestors and how they managed the transition, coming out of the Ice Age to the Holocene? What does this teach us now?
YOU CAN’T INVEST PROPERLY WITHOUT KNOWING OUR AGRICULTURAL HISTORY
Everest studies the very early agricultural communities, the transitionary period between foraging and farming.
”I want to circle back to that. Because that’s really sort of the essence of what my work is and unpacking that similarities and analogies between that period and the period that we’re going into right now, which for someone who works on both sides of this know both sides of this area of study climate, both in the modern period and an ancient period, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there are very, very fundamental analogies and similarities between this period 12,000 years ago when we’re making a transition between foraging and farming, and the period that we’re going through right now, which is the end of the Holocene. And we’re also undergoing massive transitions to our food system, in many ways, some of the biggest that humans have ever made.” – Everest Gromoll
”What I’m saying, and this is very macro level advice: know your history, do your research over the very long term, expand your mind, not necessarily in a creative sense, but appreciate that systems thinking happens in three dimensions, systems thinking is huge now.” – Everest Gromoll
REGENERATION MIGHT BE INEVITABLE
There have been past civilisations that have struggled in exactly the same way we have in terms of declining soil fertility. Soil is the fundamental natural resource and that’s increasingly appreciated by investors.
”If you invest in soil, you’re investing in the only thing that’s gonna give you a return, when the figurative construct that is the world economy, once again, realizes that it is literally tied to natural resources.”- Everest Gromoll
”A lot of civilizations that we absolutely idealize and fought for the incredible art and monuments that they created. That was the tiny period, pyramid, the top of the pyramid was based on productive agriculture.” – Everest Gromoll
”In terms of the inevitability of regeneration, let’s look at past analogues. Many, I would even hazard to say most of the famous civilizations of the Fertile Crescent, founded on agricultural issues, the ancient Assyrians were the first to create really, really large irrigation systems. And within about a century, they started having big issues with salinization, and their agriculture started to collapse. You can see clearly in the archaeological record as farmers switch from the crops that they prefer, and are most like culturally and economically valuable towards lower value crops that can tolerate the salt. And you can see this playing out within the archaeological sediment. And then, at some point, it just becomes too salty, and your economy becomes very unstable. And then that’s usually when an invasion happens, or war sweeps through civil unrest, something like that. A lot of these things are precipitated by agriculture and partly by climate problems, but also just partly because agriculture, when it’s done wrong, comes back to bite you within several centuries. And that’s just sort of the way it happens”. – Everest Gromoll
THE TRANSITION BETWEEN THE PLEISTOCENE AND HOLOCENE IS SO RELEVANT FOR US NOW
We have two major climate shifts in human history and we’re in the middle of one of them. In both of these periods, humans are undertaking massive changes to the way they feed themselves, and the way they have subsistence.
”If we keep looking at this broad view, the Holocene is ending. And we are now, for the second time in human history, entering a period of major climatic shift. And this is what we call the Anthropocene. […] there’s very solid evidence that we’re approaching a climatic shift. That’s of the same magnitude as the one that occurred between the Pleistocene and Holocene […] That’s not necessarily a doomsday scenario. But it does mean that there’s only one analogue to look at, in human history. If we want to be able to draw something out of the past”. – Everest Gromoll
”Essentially, what my work is about is examining these two things, juxtaposing them, what’s different, and just as importantly, what’s the same? What can we pull out of this, that’s going to give us more foresight about how we make this transition? How can it give us perspective, when ordinarily, we’re forced to make decisions about very long-term problems that greatly transcend our generation from the perspective of a single human lifespan, which is inherently flawed.” – Everest Gromoll
”What I’m saying is, go find a historical analogy, and crunch the numbers yourself. I suppose that’s what I’m saying. I think go find an area that seems analogous to you. And don’t necessarily dismiss it, because it’s extremely different. Because a lot of the times the differences are just as important as the similarities between the periods.” – Everest Gromoll
OTHER POINTS DISCUSSED
Koen and Everest also talked about
- What is so polarizing within regenerative agriculture
- Humans are fantastically flexible
- What’s the inevitability of declining soil fertility
- Zero Hour – Join the campaign for the Climate & Ecology Bill
- Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States
- The Land Institute Kernza
- Matt Chatfield – I’m too lazy to farm against nature
- Charles Eisenstein – Money or ecology: investors have to make a choice on which master they serve
- Satish Kumar – Be humble, you can’t outsmart nature
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.