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eating the future

eating the planet

How it all began
Why do people need so much stuff? What is money?

About owning thingsFirst, a question: Do you have a cupboard and drawers where you keep your things? Maybe you keep more stuff under your bed too! And on shelves, in cupboards and so on.

But what are you doing this for?

You're storing things that belong to you, of course. Things like clothes, shoes, food, drink, games and so on.

But why have all these things in the first place? And what do you mean when you say, "Hey, that's mine!" to your friends or brother or sister?

Here's some answers...

humans are hoarders of stuffNo other animals are like humans when it comes to having loads of stuff. Other animals don't 'own' things. And mostly they don't store things either. It's true that squirrels and some birds hide nuts for the winter — but not many and they sometimes forget where they hid them so new trees grow instead!

So why do people hoard so many things? To find out, let's look at some human history.

The very first human beings started out in Africa many tens of thousands of years ago. They didn't need fur or feathers to keep warm because they lived in a hot climate. Not having either meant that they could live and hunt very effectively on the hot African plains. They could keep cool because they could sweat all over their bodies. Furry or feathery animals can't do this. The downside was that people had to stay in the warmer places to avoid getting cold.

clothesBut then some humans had a real brainwave! They invented clothes — a huge leap forward because clothes meant people could spread (migrate) to cold parts of the world and still keep warm. At first, people made their clothes out of the skins of other animals they had killed. Later, they made their clothes from spinning stuff like wool into strings and weaving it to make clothes and rugs. Today's clothes mean people can live anywhere — even the South Pole .

The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station,United States scientific research base. Image by NSF/Josh Landis Believe it or not, people (scientists) have been living at the South Pole since 1956. And there the temperature is mostly around -58 °C. Now that really is cold — even for a penguin like me!

And today, clothes do something else for you. They say something about who you are, don't they? You choose your clothes. You own them. And you store the ones you aren't using — you know, all those shirts or shoes that you didn't really like or grew out of.

farmermoneyAnother really big change came when people invented farming. They found they could grow, harvest and store food in large amounts which made it less likely that anyone would go hungry during the winter. Though most people farmed, some people chose to do other sorts of work (like building houses or making clothes). They gave tokens they had earned for their work to the food-growing farmers in exchange for food. The tokens were made out of metal like gold and could be swapped for work or other things like food, clothes and land. What do you call these tokens today?

That's right: Money. Like rupees, dollars, euros, pesos... With money came the idea of owning property. Here's a couple of examples of ownership :

cow "I paid you money for that cow. That cow is now mine. She belongs to me. She's my property." stack  of coins

private, keep out! "That land is mine. You can't walk on it. I've bought it. Keep off. No trespassing. Private property!" this is my land and you can't come onto it!

do you need all this stuff?All these new inventions — owning things, storing things and money — led to something else.

It's this 'something' which fuelled people's wish to own things in ever larger amounts.


Can you guess?

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