The Neolithic and Industrial Revolutions

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The Neolithic and Industrial Revolutions

The two changes in the use of the earth's resources that had the greatest effect on the world population were the Neolithic and the industrial revolutions.

The Neolithic revolution (a.k.a. agricultural revolution) was a change in the way of life of our ancestors. It took place about 8000 years ago among various tribes in Asia and the Middle East. It included a transition from foraging and hunting to the domestication of animals (most probably starting with the dog) and to farming. Tribes settled in fertile areas and formed agricultural communities many of which grew into villages and cities. This relatively stable way of life and the more reliable food supply (and surplus) led to the development of new professions, to labor specialization and ultimately to the stratification of these societies.

Improved conditions of life led to somewhat longer life spans. Nevertheless population growth remained low due to high infant mortality rates.

The impact of the Neolithic revolution was not as much on immediate population growth (even though it did have a long term impact on population growth) as on the material and spiritual development of the human race. It is widely regarded as the beginning of civilization.

Industrial revolution was another process of change. It was the process of substituting muscle power with machine power. It took place in the 18th century in Europe and is still happening in many parts of the world.

In many characteristics it has been similar to the Neolithic revolution: it increased production, it led to the use of resources that had been mostly unused until then and it improved the overall quality of life. It also led to changes in the structure of society. What was different was its impact on population growth. It was quick and easily noticeable.