Amanda Marshall – Nature (1-5)

Chapter 1:

  • When did we start to “dominate” nature? Or have the dominion mindset
    • Aristotle? Socrates?
    • No human society has ever lived completely inside nature or outside of environmental change
  • Environment studies and conservation are complicated because people view the environment differently
    • Utilitarian verses intrinsic
  • LOVE Thinking like a Mountain
  • Historians did not historically focus on the environment
    • First conservationist environmental history was in 1864 by George Parkins Marsh. Emphasized damage and destruction
    • Isn’t that ethnocentric as well? Animals alter their environment too

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Chapter 2:

  • Thoughts on nature were inseperable from scientific, philosophical and religious speculation. They were intertwined
  • Large deforestation in Rome destruction of rivers, over grazed areas,
  • Died of lead poisoning from pipes, in food and wine
  • Not just Christianity, all agrarian and urban societies are anthropocentric
  • Greek deities were nature based
    • The natural world was ordered and sanctified
    • They lived on mount Olympus so shrines were In natural areas
  • But they still clear cutted and killed a lot of non divine animals
  • Aristotle believed that animals had souls, but that these were lesser souls and could still be treated like property
  • Romans flocked to the countryside to cure their “urban ills”
  • Most dramatic affections toward wilderness sprang from hunting
    • Artemis’s grove may be the first nature sanctuary
  • Discusses the coliseum and the violent games
    • Important for social order

Chapter 3:

  • It’s hard to construct how nature was in the distant past
    • Literary accounts can get carried away with their imagery
    • So who knows how things were?
    • Argues that it is still important to study regardless of accuracy
  • Use archeolagy aerial photography, pre-enclosure maps, pollen analysis
  • Britain’s heathlands were previously wooded
  • Danger of overinterpreting records
    • Were the monks scary, and ploughed everything?
  • “In 1086 only 15% of England constituted woodland and woodland pasture” – page 45
  • Bubonic plague led to abandoned fields and towns
  • Landscape = power was a common pattern in this era
    • Lead to most woodlands being owned and privatized land
  • Forests were protected by hunting rights for the upper class
    • Forest Law of king Henry the second
    • Hunting organizations play a big role in conservation today
  • Environmental concern arose in the 1960’s
  • Christianity à Stewardship tradition
  • This bit on St. Francis is interesting. He does not say the word “nature”, but calls animals brother and sister
  • The splendors of nature reflect God’s love and beauty
  • A theme to retreat to the wilderness for spiritual refinement
  • Can the earth’s systems be transformed without loss? – Page 56
  • Peasants believed that the seasons and winter were gods curse
    • Beauty or curse? All about perspective
  • Gardens were potent state symbols

Chapter 4:

  • Has humanity reduced nature to a gas station pump, something to get resources out of?
  • The Renaissance was anthropocentric
  • Some argue that science has caused a divide with nature
    • one could also argue that it has brought us closer through biological and ecological discoveries
  • Has nature taken the back seat as we learn more and more about how the world works?

Chapter 5:

  • Arguing that economics have caused our attitude and abuse of the environment
    • Makes the point that Christianity may have kept this in check a bit
  • La Casas, “going native”, nice to hear about a humanistic conquistador
  • Brings up that ecocide goes along with genocide
  • Native Americans were likely proto-ecologists, and looked at relationships and systems in the environment
    • Not necessarily perfectly living within nature
  • Oh boy, the Pleistocene extinction again. Was it people or climate change?
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