environmental history

  • Reading Peter Frankopan's Ambitious Planetary History

    by Walter G. Moss

    The Oxford historian's new book is a work of immense scope that succeeds in making human interaction with the environment a central character in history and argues for urgent action against the climate change that could write the final pages of that story.

  • Can Canada Contain Conflagration?

    by Steve Pyne

    Fire is a part of the long natural history of Canada, but this month's wildfires show the insufficiency of the nation's plans to live with fire at the opening of a Pyrocene era. 

  • Coca Cola Can't Go Green While Selling Drinks Cold

    by Bart Elmore

    If the worldwide beverage giant wants to reduce its carbon footprint, it's time for it to reverse its historical commitment to make its drinks available cold—in electric coolers—across the globe.

  • What We Owe Our Trees

    by Jill Lepore

    Human history is in great measure a history of humanity's relationship to trees. Can that history help protect the environmental future? 

  • Climate Policy Needs a Return to Land Reform

    by Jo Guldi

    In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, the United Nations' international development agenda took its cues from struggles for decolonization from Ireland to India, making the redistribution of rural land a top priority. Is this the key to more effective climate change mitigation? 

  • Bipartisanship Once Took Flight—To Protect Birds

    by Will McLean Greeley

    Senator George McLean's successful effort to pass the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, one of the most important conservation laws in American history, reflected two virtues in short supply in Washington today: bipartisan cooperation and humility. 

  • Giving Life to Midwestern Fields and Killing the Great Lakes

    Journalist Dan Egan, a longtime follower of the environmental concerns of the Great Lakes region, has a new book examining the role of phosphorous-containing fertilizers in fueling agricultural prosperity and threatening the largest supply of fresh water. 

  • 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.