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Pandora’s Seed: Investigating Our Agricultural Roots

Spencer Wells’ sprawling new book Pandora’s Seed, which ruffled Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s feathers a few weeks ago, is ripe with fascinating theories and intriguing claims. The overarching theme of the book is the climate crisis we now face and what we as a species are going to do to survive. To get to this point, Wells takes the reader on an epic journey starting with an understanding of our Paleolithic ancestors and the transitions and adaptations we’ve made. In Wells’ view this hasn’t been a linear march forward — instead he argues that with all of our technology and progress we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves and are careening down a path towards devastation. Wells believes that the pace of our human innovation and progress has been so fast — speaking in evolutionary terms — that our biology has simply not had time to adapt to the changes in our diet and lifestyle. This, he says, has its root in the advent of agriculture some 10,000 years ago — a mere blink of the eye in the scope of human history. Read more