Professor Lewis Dartnell, Professor in Science Communication, was interviewed on KPFA Radio about how the geological forces on Earth have shaped human history.
In his interview, Professor Dartnell discussed his argument, as presented in his book ORIGINS, that geological forces created conditions leading to evolution.
Talking about how we evolved and developed intelligence, he said: “What seems to be emerging in recent years is that a whole species evolved in East Africa, specifically in the East African Rift Valley. The landscape of the valley seemed to be interacting with cosmic cycles, wobbles in Earth’s orbit around the Sun which have driven a number of lakes around the valley to fluctuate.
“During these periods of extreme climactic instability, these lakes were substantially changing the amount of water that was available, vegetation and animals to hunt. So, our intelligence was the survival response in a very chaotic environment so in that sense humans are the product of this plate tectonic process and these cosmic wobbles. That to me was a mind-blowing idea when I was researching for Origins.”
He also discussed the idea that politics has geological links through voting patterns of those who voted Democrat in counties in the Southern states that were Republican-dominated.
He said: “There is a distinctive pattern to where those voters are found, on the banks of the Mississippi and also in an arch stretching across several states of that region where these 75-80 million year old rocks created a crescent through the Southern states.
“It was realised in the early 1800s that band of rock produces a particularly fertile soil that was very good at growing crops like cotton, and unfortunately in that period of history cotton was very finicky to harvest which meant slave labour.
“One of the consequences that we still see today is that even hundreds of years later, the greatest densities of black African American people live on that band of cretaceous age crops. So of course people didn’t vote Trump or Hillary Clinton because of the rocks beneath their feet but as soon as you start scratching down, you get very quickly into the underlying strata of explanation.”