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ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY: LEARNING FROM THE PAST
WHAT MAJOR CULTURAL CHANGES HAVE TAKEN PLACE? The Agricultural Revolution (began 10, 000 -12, 000 years ago) The Industrial-Medical Revolution (began about 275 years ago) The Information and Globalization Revolution (began about 50 years ago)
THESE CHANGES HAVE GREATLY INCREASED OUR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT IN 3 WAYS: More energy and new technologies. Expansion of the human population. Increased resource use, pollution, and environmental degradation.
HUNTER-GATHERERS Survived by collecting edible wild plants, hunting, fishing, and scavenging meat killed by predators. Lived in small groups, worked together. Moved seasonally to find food. Populations grew slowly due to high infant mortality and short life span. Advanced H-G had greater environmental impactthey used more advanced tools and fire to convert forest into grasslands. May have contributed to the extinction of some animals and altered the distribution of plants.
HUNTER-GATHERERS (cont. ) Their environmental impact was limited and local because of their small population, low resource use person, migration, and lack of technology.
AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION Move from hunting and gathering to settled agricultural communities- domesticated wild animals and plants. Slash-and-burn cultivation. Shifting cultivation. Sustainable cultivation. Small impact on the environment- small plots, population size and density was low.
INDUSTRIAL-MEDICAL REVOLUTION Shift to a dependence on machines running on nonrenewable fossil fuels. Large-scale production of machine-made goods in factories. Factory towns grew into cities as rural people came into factories to work. Fossil-fuel powered farm machinery. Larger and more reliable food supply and longer life spans contributed to the increase in the population. Increase in air and water pollution and waste production.
INDUSTRIAL-MEDICAL REVOLUTION (cont. ) Higher standard of living. Soil depletion and degradation. Groundwater depletion.
INFORMATION-GLOBALIZATION REVOLUTION Using new technologies for gaining rapid access to more information on a global scale. These technologies include the telephone, radio, television, computers, internet, automated databases, and remote-sensing satellites. Ability to respond to environmental problems more effectively and rapidly. Information overload can cause a sense of confusion and hopelessness.
ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY OF THE US: Tribal Frontier Conservation Environmental
TRIBAL ERA N. America was occupied by Native Americans for at least 10, 000 years. Practiced hunting and gathering, burned and cleared fields, and planted crops. Had deep respect for the land its animals. Had little environmental impact.
FRONTIER ERA 1607 -1890 European settlers began settling N. America. Viewed most of the continent as having inexhaustible resources. European settlers conquered Native Americans and spread across the continent. The transfer of public lands to private interests accelerated the settling of the continent.
CONSERVATION ERA 1832 -1960 Some became alarmed at the scope of resource depletion and degradation in the US. Urged that part of the unspoiled wilderness on public lands be protected as a legacy to future generations. Henry David Thoreau and George Perkins Marsh were early conservationists that led the movement. Forest Reserve Act of 1891 - helped to establish the responsibility of the federal govt. for protecting public lands from resource exploitation. 1892 -John Muir established Sierra Club (preservationist movement that called for protecting
CONSERVATION ERA (cont. ) Large areas of wilderness on public lands from human exploitation. 1901 - Theodore Roosevelt, an ardent conservationist, became president. His term became known as the Golden Age of Conservation. T. Roosevelt established wildlife reserves and more than tripled the size of the national forest reserves. 1905 - Congress created the US Forest Service to manage and protect the forest reserves. 1906 - Congress passed the Antiquities Act, which allows the president to protect areas of scientific or historical interests on federal lands.
CONSERVATION ERA (cont. ) 1916 - Congress passed the National Park Service Act, which declared that parks are to be maintained in a manner that leaves them unimpared for future generations. Early 1930’s- President Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded Congress to enact federal govt. programs to provide jobs and restore the country’s degraded environment.
ENVIRONMENTAL ERA 1960 -2004 Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring are credited with beginning the modern environmentalist movement in the US. 1964 - Congress passed the Wilderness Act, authorizing the govt. to protect undeveloped tracts of public land. Land in this system is to be used only for nondestructive forms of recreation such as hiking and camping. During that period, several events increased public awareness of pollution. 1970 - First annual Earth Day
ENVIRONMENTAL ERA (cont. ) 1970 - Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and supported the Endangered Species Act of 1973. 1977 -1981 - Jimmy Carter persuaded Congress to create the Dept. of Energy to develop a long-range strategy to reduce the country’s heavy dependence on imported oil. 1981 - Ronald Reagan became president. Reagan cut federal spending for research on energy conservation and renewable energy resources, lowered automobile gas mileage standards, and relaxed federal air and water quality pollution standards.
ENVIRONMENTAL ERA (cont. ) 1989 - George H. W. Bush received criticism from environmentalists for not providing leadership on key environmental issues and continuing support of exploitation of valuable resources. 1993 - Bill Clinton appointed respected environmentalists to key positions, vetoed most of the antienvironmental bills, and protected more public land as national mouments in the lower 48 states than any other president. 2001 - George W. Bush did not consult environmental groups, weakened protections on public lands, and developed an energy policy that placed great emphasis on use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
ENVIRONMENTAL ERA (cont. ) Aldo Leopold- strong proponent of Land Ethics, a philosophy in which humans as part of nature have an ethical responsibility to preserve wild nature. One of the founders of conservation and environmental movements of the 20 th century.
For much of history, our viewpoint has been that the Earth’s resources are unlimited and that we can exploit them with no fear of them running out. The human population was small. For all practical purposes, that viewpoint served us well. But the Industrial Revolution has changed everything.
Jared Diamond Wrote Guns, Germs and Steel Premise is that because Eurasia is aligned with a long east-west axis in its landmass, Europeans became the dominant civilization. Also asserted that Eurasian animals – cattle and sheep – were easier to domesticate.
Also wrote Collapse Examines why civilizations have declined, and determines that destruction of the environment was key. Asserts 8 factors have contributed to the collapse of past societies: Deforestation and habitat destruction Soil problems Water management problems Overhunting Overfishing Effects of introduced species on native species Human population growth Increased per capita impact of people
Says 4 new factors may contribute to the collapse of present-day societies: Human-caused climate change Build-up of toxic chemicals in the environment Energy shortages Full human utilization of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity
Anthropocentric or Technocentric Worldview Human-centred Nature is there to benefit mankind. Humans are not dependent on nature. Most people in MEDCs (more economically developed countries) hold this view. Includes the cornucopian (technology will always solve our problems) and the environmental management (stewardship) worldviews.
Ecocentric Worldview Life-centred Respects the rights of nature and acknowledges the dependence of humans on nature. Includes the soft technologists (favor small-scale, local action) and the deep ecologists (value nature more than humanity).
Communism and Capitalism Communists claimed it was the antidote to environmental degradation. After the Berlin Wall fell in Germany in 1989, western journalists got to see the results of communism. Communist East Germany was a heavily polluted country. The Buna chemical works was dumping 10 times more mercury into a river in a day than a comparable West German plant did in a year.
Native American Worldview There are many, but broad generalizations may be made. Contrary to popular belief, may or may not be environmentally-friendly, though their population was so low they had minimal long-lasting effects. Tend to hold property in common, have a subsistence economy, barter for goods, and low technology. Hold that animals and plants as well as object have a spirituality.
Buddhist Environmental Worldview Believe all sentient beings share the Earth and are co- dependent. Humans are not more important than other living things.
Modern Western Worldview Vary from we are “masters of the Earth” to we have a responsibility to be “Good Stewards of the Earth. ” Modern environmental views spring from the Western tradition.
Shades of Green Dark Green: Dissenters seeking political change in a radical way as they believe economic development and industrial growth are bad. Light Green: Do not want to work politically for a change but change their own lifestyles to use fewer resources. Bright Green: Believe that technology and wise behavior changes we can have economic growth, a better lifestyle, be happier, and use less resources. Creativity and innovation are the keys to a better future.