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Friday, 6 March 2015
We take electricity for granted and do not think of where it comes from when we switch on a light or use an electrical appliance. But behind the electricity coming out of a wall socket lays an entire energy landscape of poles, wires, electrical substations and power stations. It is imposed on the landscape like a gigantic web, a grid that has become almost part of the natural scenery. Just over a century ago this electricity grid did not exist.
Episode 66 of the Exploring Environmental History podcast explores the history of the UK National Grid with Cambridge based PhD candidate Kayt Button. She discusses how the coming of the electricity grid changed people’s lives, its environmental impacts and how the past informs the future development of the grid.
Wednesday, 11 February 2015
A new episode of the Exploring Environmental History Podcast examines the environmental history of the Derbyshire Soughs with Carry van Lieshout, a historical geographer at the University of Nottingham. She works on a research project that investigates the environmental and cultural history of the Derbyshire soughs in order to inform understandings of this largely forgotten cultural landscape and to develop management and conservation strategies for underground heritage.
Soughs are underground draining channels created to prevent lead mines in the Derbyshire Peak District from flooding with water. The construction of soughs changed the hydrological landscape of the Peak District reducing the flow of watercourses powering the mills of the early Industrial Revolution. This led to legal conflicts between sough builders and others who relied on the availability of water. Petitions were submitted to the courts and many of these court cases rumbled on for decades.
During the 20th century the soughs were largely forgotten but recently the soughs have been rediscovered for their industrial heritage on the one hand, and their detrimental effect on the hydrology of the landscape, pitting heritage values versus ecological restoration, creating a new battle ground of interests.
Saturday, 24 January 2015
Since the Industrial Revolution metals have become global commodities, including tin. The importance if tin increased with the invention of canned food in the 19th century, and during the 20th century with the rise of the electronics industry. Both of these factors made tin a strategic resource not seen since the days that it was used in the production of bronze for weaponry.
A new edition of the Exploring Environmental History podcast explores the evolution of the global tin industry, from mining through the trade networks and the politics surrounding the strategic importance of tin. Interrogating the rhetoric of “strategic” raw materials is important in order to understand the social, political, and environmental effects of displacement of communities, environmental degradation and pollution, and ‘resource conflicts'.
The guests on this episode of the podcast are the editors of a book entitled: Tin and Global Capitalism, 1850-2000: A History of the “Devil’s Metal”,: Andrew Perchard, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University; Mats Ingulstad, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Historical Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU); and Espen Storli, Associate Professor in History at the NTNU.
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