Chinese Population Growth
Increases in population have usually been accompanied (indeed facilitated) by an increase in trade. In the Western experience, commerce provided the conditions that allowed industrialization to get started, which in turn led to growth in science, technology, industry, transport, communications, social change, and the like that we group under the broad term of “development.” However, the massive increase in population that in Europe was at first attributed to industrialization starting in the eighteenth century occurred also and at the same period in China, even though there was no comparable industrialization.
It is estimated that the Chinese population by 1600 was close to 150 million. The transition between the Ming and Qing dynasties (the seventeenth century) may have seen a decline, but from 1741 to 1851 the annual figures rose steadily and spectacularly, perhaps beginning with 143 million and ending with 432 million. If we accept these totals, we are confronted with a situation in which the Chinese population doubled in the 50 years from 1790 to 1840. If, with greater caution, we assume lower totals in the early eighteenth century and only 400 million in 1850, we still face a startling fact: something like a doubling of the vast Chinese population in the century before Western contact, foreign trade, and industrialization could have had much effect.
To explain this sudden increase we cannot point to factors constant in Chinese society but must find conditions or a combination of factors that were newly effective in this period. Among these is the almost complete internal peace maintained under Manchu rule during the eighteenth century. There was also an increase in foreign trade through Guangzhou (southern China) and some improvement of transportation within the empire. Control of disease, like the checking of smallpox by variolation may have been important. But of most critical importance was the food supply.
Confronted with a multitude of unreliable figures, economists have compared the population records with the aggregate data for cultivated land area and grain production in the six centuries since 1368. Assuming that China’s population in 1400 was about 80 million, the economist Dwight Perkins concludes that its growth to 700 million or more in the 1960s was made possible by a steady increase in the grain supply, which evidently grew five or six times between 1400 and 1800 and rose another 50 percent between 1800 and 1965. This increase of food supply was due perhaps half to the increase of cultivated area, particularly by migration and settlement in the central and western provinces, and half to greater productivity—the farmers’ success in raising more crops per unit of land.
This technological advance took many forms: one was the continual introduction from the south of earlier-ripening varieties of rice, which made possible double-cropping (the production of two harvests per year from one field). New crops such as corn (maize) and sweet potatoes as well as peanuts and tobacco were introduced from the Americas. Corn, for instance, can be grown on the dry soil and marginal hill land of North China, where it is used for food, fuel, and fodder and provides something like one-seventh of the food energy available in the area. The sweet potato, growing in sandy soil and providing more food energy per unit of land than other crops, became the main food of the poor in much of the South China rice area.
Productivity in agriculture was also improved by capital investments, first of all in irrigation. From 1400 to 1900 the total of irrigated land seems to have increased almost three times. There was also a gain in farm tools, draft animals, and fertilizer, to say nothing of the population growth itself, which increased half again as fast as cultivated land area and so increased the ratio of human hands available per unit of land. Thus the rising population was fed by a more intensive agriculture, applying more labor and fertilizer to the land.
Determining Dinosaur Diet
Determining what extinct dinosaurs ate is difficult, but we can infer some aspects of their dietary preferences. Traditionally, this information has been derived from direct evidence, such as stomach contents, and indirect evidence, such as establishing a correlation between particular body characteristics and diets of living animals and then inferring habits for dinosaurs.
Animals such as house cats and dogs have large, stabbing canine teeth at the front of the mouth and smaller, equally sharp teeth farther back in their jaws. Many of these animals are also armed with sharp claws. The advantage of teeth and claws as predatory tools is obvious. Now consider animals like cows, horses, rabbits, and mice. These animals have flat teeth at the back of the jaw that are analogous to and have the same function as grindstones. Unlike the meat-slicing and stabbing teeth of carnivores, the teeth of these animals grind and shred plant material before digestion.
More clues exist in other parts of the skull. The jaw joint of carnivores such as dogs and cats has the mechanical advantage of being at the same level as the tooth row, allowing the jaws to close with tremendous speed and forcing the upper teeth to occlude against the lower teeth with great precision. In herbivorous animals, rapid jaw closure is less important. Because the flat teeth of herbivores work like grindstones, however, the jaws mush move both side to side and front to back. The jaw joints of many advanced herbivores, such as cows, lie at a different level than the tooth row, allowing transverse tearing, shredding, and compression of plant material. If we extend such observations to extinct dinosaurs, we can infer dietary preferences (such as carnivory and herbivory), even though we cannot determine the exact diet. The duck-billed dinosaurs known as hadrosaurs are a good example of a group whose jaw joint is below the level of the tooth row, which probably helped them grind up tough, fibrous vegetation.
Paleontologists would like to be much more specific about a dinosaur’s diet than simply differentiating carnivore from herbivore. This finer level of resolution requires direct fossil evidence of dinosaur meals. Stomach contents are only rarely preserved, but when present, allow us to determine exactly what these animals were eating.
In the stomach contents of specimens of Coelophysis (a small, long-necked dinosaur) are bones from juvenile animals of the same species. At one time, these were thought to represent embryonic animals, suggesting that this small dinosaur gave birth to live young rather than laying eggs. Further research indicated that the small dinosaurs were too large and too well developed to be prehatchling young. In addition, the juveniles inside the body cavity were of different sizes. All the evidence points to the conclusion that these are the remains of prey items and that, as an adult, Coelophysis was at least in part a cannibal.
Fossilized stomach contents are not restricted to carnivorous dinosaurs. In a few rare cases, most of them “mummies” (unusually well preserved specimens), fossilized plant remains have been found inside the body cavity of hadrosaurs. Some paleontologists have argued that these represent stream accumulations rather than final meals. The best known of these cases is the second Edmontosaurus mummy collected by the Sternbergs. In the chest cavity of this specimen, which is housed in the Senckenberg Museum in Germany, are the fossil remains of conifer needles, twigs, seeds, and fruits. Similar finds in Corythosaurus specimens from Alberta, Canada, have also been reported, indicating that at least two kinds of Late Cretaceous hadrosaurs fed on the sorts of tress that are common in today’s boreal woodlands.
A second form of direct evidence comes from coprolites (fossilized bodily waste). Several dinosaur fossil localities preserve coprolites. Coprolites yield unequivocal evidence about the dietary habits of dinosaurs. Many parts of plants and animals are extremely resistant to the digestive systems of animals and pass completely through the body with little or no alteration. Study of coprolites has indicated that the diets of some herbivorous dinosaurs were relatively diverse, while other dinosaurs appear to have been specialists, feeding on particular types of plants. The problem with inferring diets from coprolites is the difficulty in accurately associating a particular coprolite with a specific dinosaur.
Climate and Urban Development
For more than a hundred years, it has been known that cities are generally warmer than surrounding rural areas. This region of city warmth, known as the urban heat island, can influence the concentration of air pollution. However, before we look at its influence, let’s see how the heat island actually forms.
The urban heat island is due to industrial and urban development. In rural areas, a large part of the incoming solar energy is used in evaporating water from vegetation and soil. In cities, where less vegetation and exposed soil exist, the majority of the Sun’s energy is absorbed by urban structures and asphalt. Hence, during warm daylight hours, less evaporative cooling in cities allows surface temperatures to rise higher than in rural areas. The cause of the urban heat island is quite involved. Depending on the location, time of year, and time of day, any or all of the following differences between cities and their surroundings can be important: albedo (reflectivity of the surface), surface roughness, emissions of heat, emissions of moisture, and emissions of particles that affect net radiation and the growth of cloud droplets.
At night, the solar energy (stored as vast quantities of heat in city buildings and roads) is slowly released into the city air. Additional city heat is given off at night (and during the day) by vehicles and factories, as well as by industrial and domestic heating and cooling units. The release of heat energy is retarded by the tall vertical city walls that do not allow infrared radiation to escape as readily as does the relatively level surface of the surrounding countryside. The slow release of heat tends to keep nighttime city temperatures higher than those of the faster-cooling rural areas. Overall, the heat island is strongest (1) at night when compensating sunlight is absent; (2) during the winter, when nights are longer and there is more heat generated in the city; and (3) when the region is dominated by a high-pressure area with light winds, clear skies, and less humid air. Over time, increasing urban heat islands affect climatological temperature records, producing artificial warming in climatic records taken in cities. This warming, therefore, must be accounted for in interpreting climate change over the past century.
The constant outpouring of pollutants into the environment may influence the climate of the city. Certain particles reflect solar radiation, thereby reducing the sunlight that reaches the surface. Some particles serve as nuclei upon which water and ice form. Water vapor condenses onto these particles when the relative humidity is as low as 70 percent, forming haze that greatly reduces visibility. Moreover, the added nuclei increase the frequency of city fog.
Studies suggest that precipitation may be greater in cities than in the surrounding countryside; this phenomenon may be due in part to the increased roughness of city terrain, brought on by large structures that cause surface air to slow and gradually converge. This piling up of air over the city then slowly rises, much like toothpaste does when its tube is squeezed. At the same time, city heat warms the surface air, making it more unstable, which enhances risings air motions, which, in turn, aids in forming clouds and thunderstorms. This process helps explain why both tend to be more frequent over cities.
On clear still nights when the heat island is pronounced, a small thermal low-pressure area forms over the city. Sometimes a light breeze—called a country breeze—blows from the countryside into the city. If there are major industrial areas along the outskirts, pollutants are carried into the heat of town, where they tend to concentrate. Such an event is especially probable if vertical mixing and dispersion of pollutants are inhibited. Pollutants from urban areas may even affect the weather downwind from them.
One of the most important changes in Greece during the period from 800 B.C. to 500 B.C. was the rise of the polis, or city-state, and each polis developed a system of government that was appropriate to its circumstances. The problems that were faced and solved in Athens were the sharing of political power between the established aristocracy and the emerging other classes, and the adjustment of aristocratic ways of life to the ways of life of the new polis. It was the harmonious blending of all of these elements that was to produce the classical culture of Athens.
Entering the polis age, Athens had the traditional institutions of other Greek protodemocratic states: an assembly of adult males, an aristocratic council, and annually elected officials. Within this traditional framework the Athenians, between 600 B.C. and 450 B. C., evolved what Greeks regarded as a fully fledged democratic constitution, though the right to vote was given to fewer groups of people than is seen in modem times.
The first steps toward change were taken by Solon in 594 B. C.，when he broke the aristocracy's stranglehold on elected offices by establishing wealth rather than birth as the basis of office holding, abolishing the economic obligations of ordinary Athenians to the aristocracy, and allowing the assembly (of which all citizens were equal members) to overrule the decisions of local courts in certain cases. The strength of the Athenian aristocracy was further weakened during the rest of the century by the rise of a type of government known as a tyranny, which is a form of interim rule by a popular strongman (not rule by a ruthless dictator as the modern use of the term suggests to us). The Peisistratids, as the succession of tyrants were called (after the founder of the dynasty, Peisistratos), strengthened Athenian central administration at the expense of the aristocracy by appointing judges throughout the region, producing Athens’ first national coinage, and adding and embellishing festivals that tended to focus attention on Athens rather than on local villages of the surrounding region. By the end of the century, the time was ripe for more change: the tyrants were driven out, and in 508 B C a new reformer, Cleisthenes, gave final form to the developments reducing aristocratic control already under way.
Cleisthenes' principal contribution to the creation of democracy at Athens was to complete the long process of weakening family and clan structures, especially among the aristocrats, and to set in their place locality-based corporations called demes, which became the point of entry for all civic and most religious life in Athens. Out of the demes were created 10 artificial tribes of roughly equal population. From the demes, by either election or selection, came 500 members of a new council, 6,000 jurors for the courts, 10 generals, and hundreds of commissioners. The assembly was sovereign in all matters but in practice delegated its power to subordinate bodies such as the council, which prepared the agenda for the meetings of the assembly, and me courts, which took care of most judicial matters. Various committees acted as an executive branch, implementing policies of the assembly and supervising, for instance, the food and water supplies and public buildings. This wide-scale participation by the citizenry in the government distinguished the democratic form of the Athenian polis from other, less liberal forms.
The effect of Cleisthenes’ reforms was to establish the superiority of the Athenian community as a whole over local institutions without destroying them. National politics rather than local or deme politics became the focal point. At the same time, entry into national politics began at the deme level and gave local loyalty a new focus: Athens itself. Over the next two centuries the implications of Cleisthenes’ reforms were fully exploited.
During the fifth century B. C. the council of 500 was extremely influential in shaping policy. In the next century, however, it was the mature assembly that took on decision-making responsibility. By any measure other than that of the aristocrats, who had been upstaged by the supposedly inferior "people," the Athenian democracy was a stunning success. Never before, or since, have so many people been involved in the serious business of self-governance. It was precisely this opportunity to participate in public life that provided a stimulus for the brilliant unfolding of classical Greek culture.