Environmental Changes in Post-Columbus America

This paper discusses the interaction between peoples of the Eastern and Western hemispheres when Columbus discovered the New World and the bi-directional effect on each set of cultures and environmental conditions.

This paper explains that the Spaniards introduced the technical use of the wheel, domestic animals, including the horse, and many new plants, such as grains, fruits, vegetables, and weeds to the New World; in return, the Americas offered Europe many new foods like potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, almost all beans, and tobacco. The author pointed out that the Spaniards intermarried with the Indian aristocracy, which had a genetic influence on the population of the Americas. The paper relates that the cultivation of rice and bananas, both introduced, led to marked deforestation, which has had a large-scale impact on the environment.
“The isolation of western populations prior to Columbus? arrival made the people of the Americas vulnerable to European diseases and oppressive cultural influences, like Christianity and slavery. The initial interest the Spaniards had in the New World was to spread Christianity and loot the resources. Shipping to and from Europe was expensive and so it was necessary to locate resources worth the travel. Thus, one of the most valuable assets proved to be the Indians themselves, and so started the Atlantic slave trade.”

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