Guess what? If you compress the history of earth into the context of a 24 hour day, human civilizations don’t even show up until mid-afternoon. And that’s just the cavemen… modern culture doesn’t begin until just before midnight. mere seconds…has it really been long enough for us to be so confident about the effects and sustainability of our modern lifestyle?
I’m guessing you probably don’t read books about raising grass-fed cattle. I can’t imagine why ever not, but I won’t hold it against you.
Since you aren’t likely to stumble across this in your reading travels, I want to be sure you don’t miss this bit o’greatness. It’s from one of my favorites, Grass-fed Cattle, How to Produce and Market Natural Beef by Julius Ruechel. I love this book for lots of reasons, but mostly for logic like this:
“Our seemingly arrogant preoccupation with our technological solutions and human-contrived
cattle production philosophies and our lack of trust in nature’s answers to our production challenges can be traced directly to our biased views of evolutionary time. We mistakenly believe that we are central to history, that we are the glorious end product of a long, linear progression of events. We believe that we have been around for a very long time; we even call the time before the evolution of modern humans prehistory as if it is less important because we weren’t part of it. Yet this pre-historical period stretches back through vast spans of time; our human history is but a blink of the eye in comparison.”
Because the whole of history is too vast for us to wrap our brains around and establish context, Julius Ruechel graphs all of history beginning at the early development of the ancestors of our modern livestock in the context of a 24 hour day. It’s kind of paradigm-shifting:
History of Modern Livestock Compressed into 24 Hours
- 12:01 just past midnight – Ancestors of cattle and other livestock are developing
- 3:00 mid-afternoon – first humans start scavenging meat as small part of their diet
- 4:45 the most recent cycle of great ice ages begins
- 5:42 almost dinnertime – Humans learn to hunt and become active predators; meat becomes a significant part of their diet
- 11:51 PM – First modern human ancestors (Cro-Magnons – early Homo sapiens) paint on cave walls in France
- 11:57 Last ice age ends; glaciers retreat; mammoths go extinct
- 11:57:50 just over 2 minutes till midnight – Earliest known domestication of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and grains; transition from hunting culture to pastoralism and agriculture, from predator to shepherd and farmer
- 11:59:58.25 the last 1 ¾ seconds – Industrial Revolution; petrochemical industry, antibiotics, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fertilizers, grain surpluses become animal feed, the feedlot industry emerges.
Note: Strike-throughs and bolds mine.
You see, while Julius Ruechel is speaking of cattle management solutions, what he says is true without exception of every single man-made system, culture and philosophy.
Wait, there’s more:
“Mind boggling, isn’t it? Our livestock has been domesticated for only 2 minutes and 10 seconds of their 24-hour history. Our modern farm practices have been around for only approximately 1.75 seconds of this 24-hour history. Still, we naively believe that the solutions to our farm and livestock’s health, productivity and production problems lie in technology, biotechnology, petrochemistry, and pharmaceuticals that have yet to stand the test of time.”
It surely is mind-boggling. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a little insignificant right now. At the rate we’re burning through resources, what will the world be like after we’ve had half an hour?