People began causing substantial environmental damage during the industrial revolution when fossil fuels began to be mined/extracted to be burned to produce energy in factories. The invention of the automobile caused even more environmental damage as fossil fuels began to be consumed in large quantities not only in buildings but on the road by many people.
People have been significantly altering the landscape and natural systems almost as long as there have been civilizations. Archeological evidence suggests that as far back as 6000 years ago, intensive agriculture changed the landscapes of many early civilizations. From Mesopotamia to Egypt, overuse of the land led to famine and fallow that claimed millions of lives, both human and animal, and drastically changed the ecosystems.
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