environmental history

  • We Can't Leave Climate out of History

    by Peter Frankopan

    Emerging "climate archives" of precise data about weather patterns can illuminate ways that the environment impacted human history. 

  • Phosphorus Giveth (Life) and Phosphorus Taketh Away

    by Elizabeth Kolbert

    The industrial age miracle of phosphorus fertilizer production revolutionized agricultual yields. Today, humanity faces a twin crisis of the mineral's scarcity and the toxicity of the algae that it feeds with farm runoff. 

  • The East Palestine Disaster Echoes 1948's Killer Smog in Donora, PA

    by Cassondra Hanna

    Despite the decline of rust belt industry, the Ohio Valley remains a backbone of the industrial transportation sector, making its residents uniquely vulnerable to acute toxic pollution if profits are allowed to outweigh environmental safety. 

  • Oil and Spills Have Always Gone Hand in Hand

    by Nolan Varee

    Transporting a toxic substances quickly over long distances to market will inevitably produce spills. Though the technology of oil transport has changed, this essential fact remains unchanged, and will as long as regulation treats the risk as an acceptable part of the business.

  • Resisting the Plans for America's "Nuclear Sponge"

    by Taylor Rose

    An unlikely coalition of conservative "sagebrush rebels" and Native tribal activists opposed a plan to locate the US ICBM arsenal in Utah and Nevada, creating a single nuclear sacrifice zone in the event of an attack. 

  • Qatar's World Cup Echoes Brutal American Labor History

    by Jason Steinhauer

    Exposés of the brutal conditions faced by migrant laborers who built Qatar's World Cup facilities echoes the history of American public works, where workers' bodies and lives were subordinated to budgets and timetables. 

  • Is Environmental Damage Really Sabotage by Capital?

    by R.H. Lossin

     The term "capitalist sabotage" describes intentional destructive activity in service of profit, and is a more accurate label than "accident" or "unintended consquence" for the environmental change that will cause a million unnecessary deaths a year over the coming decades. 

  • What Has the Trump Era Done to Wendell Berry?

    "The Need to Be Whole once again considers the question that Berry has spent his entire life contemplating: How can we live among our fellow creatures in a way that is honorable, just, and as sustaining of our souls as of our material needs?" A reviewer doesn't think his latest work succeeds. 

  • Making a Uranium Ghost Town

    Both the Homestake Mining Company and New Mexico state regulators knew almost immediately that a uranium mine opened in 1958 was poisoning local groundwater. They didn't tell local residents, who have been fighting for their lives and for justice. 

  • How Decades of Coal Mining Left West Virginia Vulnerable to Flooding

    For a century, coal mining companies have taken billions of dollars of wealth out of eastern Kentucky, stripped the land of vegetation that can contain flood waters, and contributed to the climate change making severe storms more frequent, while leaving little for the people who live there. 

  • Legal Historians as Authority in West Virginia v. EPA

    This is a note identifying the legal history sources cited in both Elena Kagan's dissent and Neil Gorsuch's concurrence in the court's ruling limiting the power of the EPA to limit emissions. 

  • How the Lead Industry Lied to the Public for Decades

    The lead industry's trade association encouraged the public to think of lead poisoning as a problem affecting the urban poor as a strategy to stop regulation of their hazardous product, argues historian Gerald Markowitz. 

  • Earth Day is a Chance to Win the Messaging War Against Polluters

    by Laura J. Martin

    Climate protectors are at war with the fossil fuels industry in the arena of public opinion, and they're losing. It's time to stop allowing Earth Day statements of corporate concern to substitute for real change.