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read mobi ¸ Something New Under the Sun An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World Global Century Series ð ´ [Read] ➪ Something New Under the Sun An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World Global Century Series AuthoF which we are a part Based on exhaustive research McNeill's story a compelling blend of anecdotes data and shrewd analysis never preaches it is our definitive account This is a volume in The Global Century Series general editor Paul Kennedy ContentsList of maps and tablesForeword by Paul KennedyAcknowledgmentsPreface1 Prologue Peculiarities of a Prodigal CenturyPART ONE THE MUSIC OF THE SPHERES2 The Litosphere and Pedospher In Something New Under the Sun JR McNeill analyzes the environmental transformations and degradations that have occurred in the past 100 years Examining vast arrays of data McNeill details the impact of human developments and economic growth on the environment Paradoxically the human race’s uniue abilities to adapt and harness the environment that have allowed it to survive millennia might also cause such environmental problems to ultimately lead to its demise The successes of the book in cataloguing the conseuences of the current Anthropocene era in which human actions are the most important actions in biological evolution leaves important uestions about whether humanity will be able to continue creating technology to outpace environmental decay McNeill systematic breakdown of human impact on the environment begins with the soil and the lithosphere Between natural soil erosion and the effects of human use soil degradation now impacts one third of all land in the world and while improved fertilizing techniues mitigate the decrease in productive land capacity further damage will provide increased constraints that are expensive or impossible to overcome through current technologies McNeill then discusses atmosphere pollutants that occurred due to increases in human population and industrialization The development of industrialized mega cities like New York and Beijing while providing significant benefits to economic growth also served as a boon to atmospheric pollution including the presence of CFCs that lead to global warming Efforts to curb atmospheric pollution despite some success since 1940 have not proven adeuate to reverse the effects of industrialization over the century McNeill’s reliance on the UN’s IPCC report to discuss climate change does not mention the contentious nature of the IPCC report and thus the conclusions he draws may seem illegitimate to someLike atmospheric pollution human development wrought significant damage on the uality of water Organic chemicals and the pressures of overpopulation led to widespread polluted water causing the deaths of millions of people animals and plants in the twentieth century Although water treatment processes lessened constraints of the water system’s natural ability to deal with waste damage to the water system has proved difficult to reverse Further efforts to divert fresh water for human use through dams artificial lakes and the draining of wetlands create as many new water resource problems as they initially solve The Tennessee Valley Authority and the Hoover Dam first seen as man’s conuering of geography are political solutions that created lasting environmental problems The Chinese Three Gorges Dam diverted water to water starved regions of China but its effects have created a water shortage in the north for which the government must build another dam project to address McNeill next examines changes in the biosphere including the rise of contagions due to transport and urbanization and their subseuent fall due to antibiotics He shows the tremendous increase in arable land production due to stronger technologies and the spread of the staple crops that Diamond initially identified and the parallel rise of bio extinctions due to human tampering with the natural environment The final section of the book shows how the rise of technology and mass consumptive culture fundamentally changed the impact of human life on the environment Here McNeill’s distillation of two hundred years of changes in energy usage does not provide the reader with enough historical background and cost benefit analysis to understand arguably the most important development in human technology and its effects on the environment McNeill then discusses the degree to which environmental degradation the increased focus on economic growth fueled by both capitalist and socialist systems and war McNeill’s approach to analyzing the environmental changes of the past one hundred years successfully contends that humans created an eccentric era whose effects cannot be understood until they are witnessed One potential drawback of McNeill’s examination is his accounting of each human life as eually important and a greater number of human lives saved as a better outcome than the alternative While from a modern human rights standard this makes sense this schema might make less sense to others who might value one particular ethnic group’s progress as supreme to others or the euilibrium of nature as paramount to human life Another issue with the book is that by attempting to catalog such a wide variety of environmental changes the book sacrifices depth in any particular aspect of the environment Because this can be alleviated through further reading of some of the sources present in the bibliography this is a minor criticism Finally although he makes no promises to do so the book’s complete lack of predictions for the future and policy recommendations leave the reader feeling gloomy and helpless The author’s case for the impact human life on environmental change is so compelling that it begs asking if it is futile to try to fix the problems caused by our ancestor’s unintended impact on the environment For if the book succeeds in one area it is in showing the “tragedy of the commons” where common goods are destroyed because no one person has an incentive to provide the public good of a healthy environment Under the Sun leaves the reader depressed at the prospects for preventing further environmental damage and scared at the thought of what could happen if something does not drastically changeThe environmental decline that the globe is beginning to experience offers little solace to groups of people that did not have access to Diamond’s package the competition that forced Europe to develop improvements technologically or the peoples that suffered from exploitative colonial rule While global institutions and strategic restraint can attempt to create a regime that slows down the pace of environmental decline the entire biosphere faces the yet unknown conseuences of the human experiment eually

John Robert McNeill Ê Something New Under the Sun An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World Global Century Series text

E The Crust of the Earth3 The Atmosphere Urban History4 The Atmosphere Regional and Global History5 The Hydrosphere The History of Water Use and Water Pollution6 The Hydrosphere Depletions Dams and Diversions7 The Biosphere Eat and Be Eaten8 The Biosphere Forests Fish and InvasionsPART TWO ENGINES OF CHANGE9 More People Bigger Cities10 Fuels Tools and Economics11 Ideas and Politics12 Epilogue So What?BibliographyCreditsIndex This environmental history is based on a fascinating premise That because of all the technological changes that the 20th century engendered its impact on the world we live in was unlike any other era's On the demerit side the book reads like the textbook that it is And because it casts such a wide net examining everything from whaling in Japan to groundwater in the high plains of the United States it takes on a survey like uality in which too many topics are too briefly touched upon

book ó Something New Under the Sun An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World Global Century Series Ê John Robert McNeill

Something New Under the Sun An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World Global Century SeriesThe history of the twentieth century is most often told through its world wars the rise and fall of communism or its economic upheavals In his startling new book J R McNeill gives us our first general account of what may prove to be the most significant dimension of the twentieth century its environmental history To a degree unprecedented in human history we have refashioned the earth's air water and soil and the biosphere o Great book A balanced well researched look at humans' impact on the environment in the 20th century A good book to hand to intellectually inclined enviro skeptics And for that matter to off the wall lefties