The inter-relationship of human beings and the natural world, and the influence of the physical environment on a community’s social and cultural development, is very well demonstrated in societies that face the persistent threat and reality of disasters. A prime example is the Philippines. Consisting of over seven thousand islands and located in an extremely hazard-prone area, the Philippines as a whole experiences more earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis than any other country on earth. Although western social sciences typically depict “disasters” as abnormal occurrences, communities and individuals in the Philippines have come to accept hazard and disaster as a frequent life experience. Indeed, in a number of respects, Filipino cultures can be regarded as the product of community adaptation to these phenomena. This has consequences for the historical, social and cultural development of societies.
In this episode of the podcast Greg Bankoff, professor of modern non-western history at the University of Hull explores how the persistent threat and reality of disasters shapes the history, social and cultural development of societies.
Website mentioned in this podcast: University profile page of Professor Bankoff.
The theme of this podcast is the history of severe river flooding in the north east of England. With the floods in the town of Morpeth in September 2008 fresh in the minds of people in Northern England it seems appropriate to look back in time to great historic floods and to see whether the rivers of Northumberland have produced even greater floods than those experienced recently. The guest on this podcast is David Archer, a retired hydrologist who worked for Northumbrian Water and the National Rivers Authority, and an expert on the history of floods in the North east of England. He will explore the great floods in the Tyne basin of the past 250 years and even beyond. In addition David will discuss what historical sources are used for the reconstruction of past floods and how such information can be used for current flood risk management.
River systems of northeast England and places mentioned in the podcast.
Extent of the Miramichi fire
Source: WF Ganong, Bull. Nat.
Hist. Soc. NB, 1906.
This edition of the podcast is devoted to two countries of European Settlement: New Zealand and Canada. Both countries received a significant number of settlers from Scotland and Ireland. Did these groups bring a particular set of land management techniques with them that had a particular impact on the landscape and environment? Did a particular conservation ethic develop among Scottish and Irish settlers? Tom Brooking of Otago University discusses these questions in this podcast. In addition he is looking at the unique nature of the environmental history of New Zealand and how the country has become as cultivated as most “old world” countries.
In the second part of the podcast Alan MacEachern, a historian of the University of Western Ontario, explores the confrontation of European settlers with the extensive forests in eastern Canada through the Miramichi fire of 1825. This fire is considered to be one of the largest ever recorded on the east coast of North America since European settlement. The fire took settlers by surprise because it was on a scale unknown to immigrants coming from a largely deforested continent. Alan discusses the causes of the fire, the responses to the fire and how it was reported in the European press.
The Interviews were recorded at a one day conference entitled “Irish and Scottish Migration and Settlement: Environmental Frontiers”, held at the AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen, 21 June 2008.
Websites mentioned in this podcast:
Anne is a Man podcast reviews, anneisaman.blogspot.com
This episode of the podcast returns to Scotland for a look at the environmental history of Flanders Moss, a raised peat bog west of Stirling. John Harrison, a historian from Stirling, reveals why the moss is the product of millennia of human use and exploitation. In addition he will address the questions what the moss looked before human intervention, why large parts of the moss were cleared during the 18th and 19th centuries, and some of the environmental consequences of the clearance. The podcast will also dispel the myth that the moss was once an impassible barrier, with Stirling Bridge the only place where it could be crossed. Finally, the history of Flanders Moss during more recent times, including a proposal to mine the peat to fuel a power station, and its role in the 21st century as the largest raised bog in lowland Scotland will be briefly discussed.
Website mentioned in this podcast: SNH NNR page
This podcast episode highlights two papers presented at a conference entitled “An End to History? Climate Change, the Past and the Future” that that was held at the Birmingham and Midland Institute in Birmingham on 3 April 2008. The papers presented addressed the issue what we can or can not learn from the experiences of past societies which have coped with climate or environmental change. In this episode Gill Chitty, Head of Conservation of The Council for British Archaeology, explores the important contributions that archaeology can make to the national debate about climate change. Jim Galloway of the Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research in London, reviews the evidence of the impact of storm surges on the lands bordering the Thames Estuary during the fourteenth century.
Website mentioned in this podcast:
Urban air pollution is certainly not a new problem. During the Middle Ages the use of coal in cities such as London was beginning to increase. By the the 17th century the problems of urban air pollution are well documented.
The Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries was based on the use of coal. In addition the burning of coal in homes for domestic heat pusehed urban air pollution levels further up with sometime disastrous results. The Great London Smog of 1952 resulted in around 4,000 extra deaths in the city, and led to the introduction of the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968.
The problems realated to air pollution, past and present, are well known but less known is the cultural history attached to air pollution. In this edition of Exploring Environmental History Stephen Mosley of Leeds Beckett University explores how Victorians and Edwardians viewed air pollution and how they dealt with it. He also suggests that there is a continuation of perceptions of air pollution that links us with the Victorians.