North America, Columbus, Jamestown discussed on John Batchelor


Columbus arrived. But now we apply. Globalization to the concept of the late fifteenth early sixteenth century in north and South America. Charles, very good evening. Do. Congratulations jamestown. We call it the tobacco coast in your book. And that has a reason because you not only discuss the people who came here and. And they're they're turmoil and their strife and their deaths and their promises and their ambitions. But also, the plants and animals that migrate here. I wanted to step back a moment you're telling the story of what we today. Call globalization. Did they have that word in fourteen ninety three or fifteen hundred the idea of the world working together? No -lutely not what we're talking about is a phenomenon. That's really was just understood recently in the man who came up with the phrase to describe it was called the Columbian exchange. Manley Melford Crosby's wonderful story. And what he noticed is that you step back. The perhaps the best way to think about Columbus is as an agent of biological change. And reason is if you think about it. We also learned in fourth and fifth grade or six seventh grade depending on your school that, you know, couple hundred million years ago the world consisted of single giant landmass, scientists call Penn Jia geological forces broke. Hit up forever, separating eastern hemisphere in the western hemisphere and forever, separating the plants and animals on those two hemispheres ecosystem and what Columbus did accidentally without knowing about. It was ring the continents together he recreated pen Jia in huge numbers of creatures from over there over here in huge numbers of creatures over. Here went over there. And the result was an explosion ecological explosions the biggest event in the history of since the death. So the dinosaurs. And underlies a lot of human history that you and I learned in school, homo, Gino. Scene period. That's some of some scientists called this period that we live in now the period started by Columbus, the homogeneous team time when all the earth is being homogenized biologically because all the different ecosystems are all being mixed up and moving all around. And that's why you get things like tomatoes in Italy tomatoes are from Mexico, and you get chili peppers which are from Central America and South America in places like Thailand than you get potatoes from the Andes Ireland, and you get horses and and cows, which you're Asia in the middle west and on and on and on I wanna go immediately Jamestown because it describes this process. Not only in front of us with the conflict between the native American settling in the area where the Jamestown settlers, remember? They set sail from London December sixteen six it's an investment society. There are investors in this. And they're going to throw themselves on the unknown shore. The vast forest of North America that has been managed by the native Americans quite nicely. Thank you very much for hundreds of perhaps thousands of years, but as Jamestown builds it chooses a place that is brackish they have brackish water. In fact, you you right Charles at the current so strong. They can tie their ships right up off the shore. And they're in the presence of an older society. A group of people who found themselves very carefully and deal with the environment. Why are they allowed to stay? Why aren't they immediately driven out these settlers? Well, the if I can tell there's a they landed right in the middle of small native empire that they called Seneca Moco, and the English were from the native point of view, these undesirable people who sort of showed up, but they had some goods that were worth trading for and so the gave him the worst piece of land piece land didn't have any good water. People land was. Mar it was marshy, and Brian brackish and so forth. Instead, essentially, you can stay there for a while as long as you keep producing the iron goods knives and things like that that we like, and this was from the Indian point of view a very sound of procedure. And they believed they kick them out at any time. And so you would have these undesirable people who had a few things that you liked and you would sort of fence them off, and that was their strategy and it worked for quite a while you write that or you have the comment that is very door here saying that both sides enjoyed confidence born of ignorance of each other. And so as these two societies having nothing to do with each other whatsoever of the fact that they're living in the same area deal with each other. There's going to be something that you see out front, which is the tale of Pocahontas and John Smith and John Roth, and then what happens under Neath with which is the sudden introduction of earthworm. I like this part Charles a lot while the fighting is going on in the. Threats and John Smith tries to burn himself by having gunpowder exploded his belt, what is the earth worm doing? What's happening is starting a few years after they is they're trying to figure out that Michelin Jamestown is there because the English want to do what the Spaniards did find lots of golden silver. And they're convinced that there's gold and silver all over the Americas. And so companies they can just set up shop in North America. They to find the golden silver, and the second thing they want is that they are believe that North America is a lot narrower than it actually is they have convinced themselves just a couple of hundred miles across and so they should be able to sail up Chesapeake Bay, which they think it's the mouth of giant river and go across to the Pacific establish basic music in start trading with China which is goal. They're going to take all the gold and silver and use it to buy things in China. When this doesn't work out for all the obvious reasons. There's no golden silver in Virginia and the United States a lot bigger than they. Thought it was the desperately cast about for other things to do when they start trying to wine grapes. They tried to go silk. They try to make iron they try to do everything. And the thing that catches on is when John Rolfe manned becomes the husband to poke Honda's famous story begins to plant, a Brazilian plant of type of tobacco and this explodes. And they start taking over huge areas of this land and growing tobacco on it. And as they do so the introduce all kinds of other crops, and plants and animals from England most of them without knowing it, including the earthworm which begins very slow motion transformation of the ecosystems in the northern part of the United States. And the reason is the reason that does this is that the earthworm in North America didn't exist at the time of Columbus. They're all squished. So I'm using technical language here. Right. By the by the glaciers, the time of the ice age. And as I was explained to me by some of the earth, worm experts. I talked to earthworms don't have a lot of get up and go they don't move around much. And so they didn't very very slowly move north to recolonize, and they hadn't reached Chesapeake Bay they hadn't Pennsylvania. They hadn't reach new Montana all this area by the time of Columbus and win. And that the result all the plants in this area. Miss northern part of North America weren't used to having earthworms or to these tremendous soil engineers, and they take all the nutrients that are on the surface from leaf litter and so forth, and they stick it underground. And as a result when earth were introduced in spread by these European colonists. They started. Recycling. Nutrients in the way that gardeners are familiar with. And as a result of slow motion. Wave ecological disturbance as one set of plants couldn't tolerate earthworms is replaced by another in their areas in places like the far north of Minnesota that are still earthworm free. And there's in fact, Minnesota worm watches now Berta worm watches areas of western Massachusetts that are trying to fight back the tide. It's wonderful that the earthworm while the India while the native Americans and the Feth lers are combating and fighting and and remember when they first landed the maze. The corn those fields weren't fenced because they didn't have cattle didn't have to worry about that. All of that is happening as men are staring at each other, and the earthworm is very gradually transforming the landscape the other thing transferred, the landscaping I love this is the most intelligent animal. I've ever met the pig. The pig arrives at everything changes. Yes. The the Countess rival have lots of pigs. Pigs media escape and start swimming. Over everything. And I don't know if any of your listeners have ever been around place where wild pigs are, but they are tremendously clever creatures were enormously good at turning up the soil with is sort of shovel lake noses, and they just reek havoc in native fields. And of course, from the native point of view until the pigs arrived if you know dear came in or something like that. Well, they shot it for dinner. Right. You didn't mind wildlife coming in because it was it was something to eat when the pigs coming you shoot them than the colonists start objecting. And there's a enormous wave up and down east coast of conflicts over colonise animals, and there is where I live in Massachusetts. There was a big fight in the sixteen seventy.

Coming up next