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What are the historical patterns surrounding sustainable and unsustainable human interactions with the environment?
Unsustainable interaction between people and ecosystems has often been associated with human migrations. [ When people move to a new area where the ecosystem is different, they typically have little knowledge about the new ecosystem and lack appropriate social institutions and technology for sustainable interaction. This appears to have occurred when the first human inhabitants of North America
migrated there from Asia about 13,000 years ago. When these people arrived, North America had numerous species of large mammals similar to the impressive fauna in East Africa today. Most species of large mammals disappeared within a few centuries of the people arriving, probably due to overhunting. We do not know that the Native Americans were definitely responsible, but it appears likely. Many large animal species in Europe and Australia also disappeared soon after the first humans migrated to those continents. ]
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