Cutting down trees put carbon in the atmosphere long before the industrial revolution
SANTA FE, N.M. — People started influencing their home planet’s climate millennia before the industrial revolution’s fossil fuel–burning machines began spewing carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, a new study suggests.
Clearing land — first to hunt and gather, and then to farm — removed trees that otherwise would have soaked up carbon dioxide. The new work suggests that humans working the land put nearly 350 billion metric tons of carbon — many times other estimates — into the atmosphere by the year 1850. (For comparison