Enduring issues are issues that have been around for various amounts of time. Different generations have attempted to address them with different outcomes. One of those enduring issues is scarcity. Scarcity is a significant enduring issue because this affects many people around the world today and has lasting effects on civilizations/societies as shown in the Paleolithic era, the Agricultural Revolution, and the Green Revolution.
Scarcity is an enduring issue as demonstrated by the Paleolithic era. The Paleolithic era was a time of struggle for those living in it. People had to survive on their skills and wit to find food and reduce hunger. As a result, they never traveled in groups since that would only slow them down. Hunting alone or with one other person was much faster and more efficient. According to T. Walter Wallbank, et al.: “Paleolithic men could not control their food supply. So long as they relied on foraging, hunting, fishing, and trapping, they were dependent on the natural food supply in a given area to keep from starving”. This shows how the Paleolithic people were completely dependent on natural resources to keep them alive. The problem with relying on natural resources is the weather and the climate. When both the weather and climate change for the worse, it can cause those natural resources to wither and die. “Paleolithic men could not control their food supply”. This sentence agrees with the previous sentences because of how the climate and weather constantly change. Therefore, changing the state of the natural food it provides. Scarcity still affects people to this very day.
Although scarcity is an enduring issue, the Paleolithic people tried to fix it by introducing the ways of agriculture. When agriculture was utilized more and more, the Paleolithic period ended and turned into the Neolithic period. The Neolithic period was the revolutionized version of the Paleolithic period. It involved settling down in one area, farming and domestication of animals. As well as reproducing and making families. This took time to get used to since people were nomads and were constantly on the move. So, the idea of settling down might have seemed out of place for them. According to T. Walter Wallbank, et al., “But while Paleolithic men continued their food-gathering pattern of existence in Europe, Africa, and Australia, groups of people in the Near East began to cultivate edible plants and to breed animals”. This is the first time when the idea of domestication came into existence. But it was incredibly helpful in the Neolithic era. To this very day, domestication is still used around the world. “Often described as the ‘first economic revolution’ in the history of man, this momentous change from a food-gathering to a food-producing economy initiated the Neolithic”. This is how the Neolithic Revolution came about as a solution to fix the scarcity of the food problem in the Paleolithic era.
Scarcity was not only present in the Paleolithic era but before the Agricultural Revolution as well. The Agricultural Revolution takes place in the 1700s of Great Britain where it had similar aftereffects to the Neolithic era. Before the Agricultural Revolution, farmers used a plow to create furrows (ditches) then scattered seeds into them and covered them back up with dirt. This method doesn’t seem very reliable for planting seeds. It’s putting seeds into furrows then simply covering them with one layer of dirt. There isn’t much accuracy of how the seeds are planted into the ground. However, this method is slightly easier than what the people of the Paleolithic era had to deal with. Although both share the same difficulty of different levels of reliance on the weather. This method was ineffective because birds and other animals could easily eat the seeds. If the birds and other animals ate the seeds, the farmers would lose business and precious seeds. The seeds are the foundation of the crops which provide people with food. Without food, people would starve and grow weaker. That’s one of the lighter effects of what scarcity can do to societies. Luckily for the people of Great Britain, change began to happen in 1701.
The Agricultural Revolution of Great Britain was introduced to help reduce if not completely prevent scarcity. Innovation began to happen during the Agricultural Revolution that greatly benefited the people of Great Britain. Jethro Tull invented his horse-drawn seed drill in 1701. The machine drilled holes for three rows of seed at a time to the correct depth, planted the seeds, and covered them in dirt in one action. Jethro Tull invented a machine that would increase the speed and accuracy of planting seeds. This machine not only utilized animals but also made use of metals. The drill greatly helped farmers with less work time and more crops planted. However, as a result, farmers could plant and grow more crops. The workers who were no longer needed on the farm had to find work elsewhere, usually in a nearby town or city where factories employed many people. This is where the first problem of using the drill arose. The drill helped immensely, but that meant more workers were not needed. Some workers had to find other work in nearby towns or cities. They could probably find work. But what happened if they couldn’t, they lost their jobs to a machine. The workers would be left with no job and no income to help them survive. The drill had varying degrees of success to fix the enduring issue of scarcity.
Scarcity is not only an enduring issue but as an enduring fear. Before the Green Revolution in India, there were many fears about scarcity. The prospect of having so many people but not enough resources for food can be scary. But it can be even scarier when it’s a reality.
According to James Killoran et al., “After World War II (1939-1945), population increased greatly around the world, especially in areas outside of Europe and North America”. Population overgrowth can also be a cause of scarcity. Too many people eating from the same food sources can make the food sources deplete rapidly and die. “There was concern that the agricultural techniques used in the regions with the greatest population increase would not produce enough crops to keep up with the demand” As the previous sentences said, the fear in India was that the food sources would not be able to keep up with the demands of the expanding population. Overpopulation still affects the current world.
The fear of scarcity was growing which was why the Green Revolution happened. As James Killoran et al. explained, “The Green Revolution was a period from the 1940s to the late 1960s when the production of crops increased drastically as a result of new technological advances such as mechanical equipment, new farming techniques, and chemical fertilizers”. India began to make more use of technology as well as new agricultural techniques to help increase the number of crops produced. It worked extremely well since the production rate of the crops shot up dramatically. This happened throughout the Green Revolution which helped subdue the fear of scarcity. But subduing the fear doesn’t mean scarcity isn’t a potential threat. Scarcity is an enduring issue because of how long and how badly it can affect societies or even generations.
The Paleolithic era, the Agricultural Revolution and the Green Revolution are just some examples of how scarcity is an enduring issue. The Paleolithic era happened over a million years ago. The Agricultural Revolution happened in the 1700s and the Green Revolution was a time period of the 1940s to the 1960s.
- T. Walter Wallbank, et al., Civilization: Past and Present, Scott, Foresman and Company from the January, 2010 NYS Global History and Geography Regents Examination.
- James Killoran et al., The Key to Understanding Global History, Jarrett Publishing Co. (adapted) from the NYS Global History and Geography Regents Exam.