Category Archives: Books

The Environment and World History (Book Review)

The Environment and World HistoryEnvironment Changes and Climate Change (Global warming and cooling) have always occurred since the Earth has gone through cycles of changes many times in its approximately 4.5 billion years. Although changes since 10 000 B.C.E are due to anthropogenic activities (e.g. deforestation) that have caused changes in both environment and climate.

I recently finished reading The Environment and World History, edited by Edmund Burke III and Kenneth Pomeranz. For the past eight years, I have read a lot of books on Climate Change, Global Warming and Global Cooling and on general environment focused subjects. However, nothing of what I have read until now did really cover and explain the deep history about man, environment, and technological innovations and advancements—except this book. The irony is that I bought this book back in 2009 by accident; I never really knew that it existed when I went to the local book store.

Edmund Burke III opens the book by stating in the very first sentence: “Environmental history has the potential to transform our understanding of the human past” (p. xi). This is one of the sentences that captures a lot of attention, because, environment history is very different from the traditional history subjects that are taught in school. Unlike, traditional history which we learn in school, environment history focuses on a different subject in itself; it for instance does not focus too much energy on explaining how things went or which political party won and so on.

Environmental history is a very special subject and should be taken seriously and even taught in schools, especially since it explains: how much of what we have around us today has been created and shaped from the past. Environment history also includes key explanations to—resources, food, population growth, clean water, clean environments, economic growth, and innovative and technological advancements. In addition, to explaining our past, Environmental History helps us also understand the future.

The Environment and World History book has around 384 pages and consist mainly of essays, a large part written by Burke and Pomeranz, however, a variety of other essays contributed by other scientists and historians can also be found.

Finally, one interesting lesson I learned from this book is that the mentality: “We exploit and destroy parts of our environment to gain economic growth, and then we invest in clean up solution”—only works for a few countries, mainly those in the West (U.S., Canada, and Western-Europe) while for China and India this remains to be seen.