European Crosby Point

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In this book, Crosby raised numerous interesting points. One such point was his notion of the Neo-Europes. In the book Crosby begins by pointing out that the populations of the Neo-Europes are primarily composed of European descendents. At first, Europeans as a whole were reluctant to leave the familiarity of their homelands to start a new life abroad. But at the beginning of the 19th century, the Neo-Europes experienced a huge increase of European settlers between 1820 and 1930. Europeans, who were mostly Caucasian, occupied most of the territories in Northern Eurasia for most of history. For thousands of years they lived in this northern block of the European-Asian continent between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Here, they developed distinct cultures, technologies, politics, and agricultures. The reasons that the Europeans left their home countries to live in these Neo-Europes was because of population explosion and a resulting shortage of cultivable land, national rivalries, and the persecution of minorities. But what was so appealing about the Neo-Europes for the Europeans to select them as the primary locations of European expansion?

The answer is mainly biogeographical. Europe and the Neo-Europes all share similar latitudes. The Neo-Europes are mostly in the temperate zones, north and south. They share the same length of day and they often share a similar climate and vegetation. This is significant because the plants and animals Europeans have always relied upon for food tend to require a warm-to-cool climate that receives 50 to 150 centimeters of annual precipitation to flourish. This is one effect of how isolation made is possible for Europeans to succeed in the Neo-Europes. But before this could take place, because the indigenous floras and faunas in the Neo-Europes were different from those located in Europe, the foreign biota brought to the New World by Europeans would have to compete with the local one to survive. This would ultimately result in the complete devastation of the native floras and faunas.

Another effect was that one of the major contributors to European domination was disease, which is a natural byproduct of human interaction with animals. When Europeans shifted from being hunters/gatherers to being farmers who settled in large, immovable communities and domesticated small animals, they exposed themselves to conditions that birthed diseases that would later assist them in conquering the Neo-Europes. Some such carriers of diseases were the mice, rats, roaches, houseflies, and worms that were able to gather in these urban settings. Because Europeans were living in an environment where they were in close contact with domestic animals and the germs that they carry, the same germs that many of the devastating diseases of humans have sprung, they were constantly being subjected to disease. And though millions of lives were lost when diseases ravaged Europe during the Middle Ages, a natural consequence of these frequent epidemics was a population that built up a resistance to these diseases. With each and every epidemic there would be some individuals who were biologically more capable of resisting the virus. After undergoing this process for a number of centuries, the entire population eventually obtained at least some minor immunological defense against diseases such as smallpox.

However, because the vast majority of the native populations to the Neo-Europes were still participating in hunting/gathering and did not interact with animals in the same manner as the Europeans, they were never exposed to such diseases. Because the Europeans arrived in the Neo-Europes with disease that were absolutely new to those locations, they had an enormous advantage over the indigenous peoples and the consequences were overwhelming. For these reasons disease was able to spread like wildfire and undoubtedly must have claimed a large number of lives.

The Europeans did an magnificent job in being able to transform the isolated lands of the Neo-Europes into places where they could maintain a good life. They found ways to out do the Neo-Europes and take over their land. They found out what disadvantages they had against the Neo-Europes and were able to get around them.

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