Sauer, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Fifty years ago this month, at the rd annual meeting of the AAAS held in Washington DC, a fifty-nine-year old historian of medieval science and technology dropped an intellectual bomb, sending jarring reverberations still felt today. On the evening of December 26th,Lynn White Jr. Our current environmental crisis, he argued, is the result, not simply of our technological ability to impact and degrade the environment. Rather, our environmental crisis is first and foremost the product of our Western worldview.
History[ edit ] The discipline has several sites of origins by researchers who shared a common interest in the problem of ecology and history, but with a diversity of approaches.
The papers highlighted the importance of understanding social and political structures, personal identities, perceptions of nature, and the multiplicity of solutions for environmental problems. Crumley's Burgundian Landscape Project —present is carried out by a multidisciplinary research team aimed at identifying the multiple factors which have contributed to the long-term durability of the agricultural economy of Burgundy, France.
McGovern's Inuit-Norse Project —present uses archaeology, environmental reconstruction, and textual analysis to examine the changing ecology of Nordic colonizers and indigenous peoples in GreenlandIcelandFaeroesand Shetland.
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Historical Ecology —present seeks to collect relevant historical data on fishing, whaling, and trade of the furs of aquatic animals in order form a baseline for environmental restorations of the CaliforniaUSA coast.
In Idaho Falls, Idahothese waterfalls replaced naturally occurring ones Historical ecology is interdisciplinary in principle; at the same time, it borrows heavily from the rich intellectual history of environmental anthropology.
Western scholars have known since the time of Plato that the history of environmental changes cannot be separated from human history.
Several ideas have been used to describe human interaction with the environment, the first of which is the concept of the Great Chain of Beingor inherent design in nature. In this, all forms of life are ordered, with Humanity as the highest being, due to its knowledge and ability to modify nature.
This lends to the concept of another nature, a manmade nature, which involves design or modification by humans, as opposed to design inherent in nature.
One of these approaches was environmental determinismdeveloped by geographer Friedrich Ratzel. This view held that it is not social conditions, but environmental conditions, which determine the culture of a population.
Ratzsel also viewed humans as restricted by nature, for their behaviors are limited to and defined by their environment. A later approach was the historical viewpoint of Franz Boas which refuted environmental determinism, claiming that it is not nature, but specifics of history, that shape human cultures.
This approach recognized that although the environment may place limitations on societies, every environment will impact each culture differently.
Julian Steward 's cultural ecology is considered a fusion of environmental determinism and Boas' historical approach. Steward felt it was neither nature nor culture that had the most impact on a population, but instead, the mode of subsistence used in a given environment.
Anthropologist Roy Rappaport introduced the field of ecological anthropology in a deliberate attempt to move away from cultural ecology. Studies in ecological anthropology borrow heavily from the natural sciences, in particular, the concept of the ecosystem from systems ecology. In this approach, also called systems theory, ecosystems are seen as self-regulating, and as returning to a state of equilibrium.
This theory views human populations as static and as acting in harmony with the environment.
These revisions and related critiques of environmental anthropology undertook to take into account the temporal and spatial dimensions of history and cultures, rather than continuing to view populations as static.
These critiques led to the development of historical ecology by revealing the need to consider the historical, cultural, and evolutionary nature of landscapes and societies.
Thus, historical ecology as a research program developed to allow for the examination of all types of societies, simple or complex, and their interactions with the environment over space and time. Landscapes in historical ecology[ edit ] In historical ecology, the landscape is defined as an area of interaction between human culture and the non-human environment.
The landscape is a perpetually changing, physical manifestation of history. While an ecosystem is static and cyclic, a landscape is historical. While the ecosystem concept views the environment as always trying to return to a state of equilibrium, the landscape concept considers "landscape transformation" to be a process of evolution.
Landscapes do not return to a state of equilibrium, but are palimpsests of successive disturbances over time. Sauer Various individuals and schools of thought have informed the idea of the landscape as historical ecologists conceive of it.
The Old English words landskift, landscipe or landscaef refer to environments that have been altered by humans.Mar 08, · After reading White’s “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis”, I do agree with what I think is the gist of the article. With this excerpt, White takes some things that people generally regard as true, and links them to his ideas making what he is saying in the article make a lot of sense.
Source: White, Lynn Townsend, Jr. "The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis." Science (10 March ): White's article "The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis," published in Science magazine in , argued that mass destruction of nature by humankind is an unintended.
I also examine the appearance and interconnectedness of the two main trends (ecological and anthropological) in historical ecological research. In the last part, I attempt to outline the future of historical ecology based on common features in existing research.
Fifty years ago, historian Lynn White Jr. presented and published a highly influential paper, explaining the intellectual and philosophical roots of our environmental crisis.
Current debates in conservation make White’s paper as important now as it was in Our ecologic crisis is the product of an emerging, entirely novel, democratic culture. The issue is whether a democratized world can survive its own implications. Historical ecology is a research program that focuses on the interactions between humans and their environment over long-term periods of time, typically over the course of centuries.
In order to carry out this work, historical ecologists synthesize long-series data collected by practitioners in diverse fields.