When I first started to read a few years ago that the introduction of agriculture had introduced a poorer quality of life, I was really quite surprised.
But the more I looked into it, the more I realized that there’s a lot of evidence for it.
And it was kind of a trap. Bands of hunter-gatherers slowly discovered agriculture by returning to accidentally seeded areas of grain where previous camps had been.
Eventually, they figured out how to do the seeding on purpose. In two or three different parts of the world, over the course of a couple thousand years, agriculture was invented and people began to lead much poorer lives. Disease became prevalent, famine became prevalent, patriarchy was born and hierarchy began to enslave people.
I say trap because despite all of the disadvantages, the one big advantage was that agriculture allowed for denser populations. The only way to turn back would have been to allow significant percentages of populations to starve to death.
We seem to find ourselves in a similar situation today with fossil fuel energy. It causes great harm, but we’re so dependent on it that unless we develop new technologies to replace it, we can’t turn back without accepting population crashes — rather dystopian ones.