This is a history of the human impact upon the natural environment of the Earth. It is a compelling story, the result of many years of original research and scholarship and drawn from work in a wide range of natural and humane disciplines. It covers every kind of culture and society, ranges in time from the earliest social groupings to the present, and considers the short and long-term consequences of current trends.
A key argument of the book, and one that informs its structure, is that access to energy is a crucial influence on the way in which we have used and exploited our natural surroundings. If environmental impacts of the discovery of fire were substantial, and of agriculture dramatic, the effects of industrial and technological change over the last two centuries have been revolutionary.
Exponential growth in the use of fossil fuels and of the human population mean that our own activities now constitute a critical variable in environmental change. The recent history of the interaction between human kind and nature has become different from the past not only in degree but in kind: and there is a mismatch between our ability to affect and to control the natural environment. These issues form the concluding theme of this outstanding and articulate book.
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About the Author
Ian Simmons was Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Bristol before taking up his present position as Professor of Geography and head of department at the University of Durham. He has published many books, including two successful textbooks: The Ecology of Natural Resources and Biogeography: Natural and Cultural.