Podcast archive 2013

Podcast 57: Events in the collective environmental memory of humanity

Cover GE 11What are the most important events in the collective environmental memory of humanity? In the spring of 2013 a group of environmental historians from around the globe was confronted with this very question. They were asked to nominate one event that, in their opinion, should be part of this collective memory. This was part of a survey for a special issue of the journal Global Environment on environment and memory. The twenty-two entries that were returned provide an interesting window in what professional environmental historians regard as world changing environmental events that should be remembered by all of us. The events suggested are a colorful mix including animals and bombs, dust and climate, organic and mineral resources, the old conservation movement and the new post-1970 environmental movement. In spatial terms, events were scattered over all five continents as well as the entire globe.

The guest on this episode of the podcast is Frank Uekotter, the organiser of the collective environmental memory survey. He discusses what the spatial and temporal distribution of the entries as well as the obvious silences and omissions tells us about our historical imagination and the present direction and focus of the discipline of environmental history.

Article discussed
What Should We Remember? A Global Poll Among Environmental Historians“, Global Environment, 11 (2013), pp 184-214. Compiled and introduced by Frank Uekötter.

Sites mentioned in the podcast & relevant links
Global Environment (old site)
Global Environment (White Horse Press site)
Environment and memory project at the Rachel Carson Centre, Munich
University staff profile Frank Uekotter

Music credits
Where You Are Now” by Zapac, available from ccMixter
1973” by Doxent Zsigmond, available from ccMixter
nervoso con las guitarras” by norelpref, available from ccMixter

 

Podcast 56: The power of the wild

above_the_sea_of_fog

Wanderer above the sea of fog
contemplating the power of
nature. Separate or part of the
wild? Painting by Caspar David
Friedrich (1774–1840).
Source: Wikipedia.

The power of the wild is an idea that has been important in western thought as a place of refuge or separation where we can feel the power of nature. It is a place where humans are not in control and their power is limited.

Using nature as a category of power creates a dichotomy between humans and nature, which is problematic because humans are very much part of eco-systems in which we live. Is it then valid for historians to invoke models of power dynamics to study past interactions between humans and nature?

This was one of the questions considered at a workshop held at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, England in April 2013. The participants of the workshop also examined if a nature reserve like Wicken Fen can be made wild again, a process called re-wilding. In episode 53 of this podcast series Dolly Jørgensen argued that no re-wilding is needed but that the wild is all around us, even in urban settings.

In this episode of the podcast Paul Warde, reader in history at the University of East Anglia, argues that the experience of the wild is hard to find in an urban environment, even an urban park or in a nature reserve in densely populated England. The question is then if rewilding of an heavily dominated human landscape like Wicken Fen is possible and can be returned to a “wild state”. This desire of rewilding Wicken Fen also led to the question whether such a rewilded area would be truly wild.

Links & sites mentioned in the podcast
Dolly Jørgensen, Reflections on rewilding, Return of Native Nordic Fauna, 30 September 2013. Includes the video mentioned in the podcast.

The Places that Speak to us project website

Paul Warde, The Anthropocene: finding ourselves back in the wilderness. Reflections on the workshop on Re-wilding and Wild Desires at Wicken, 18-19 April 2013

Music credits
Truth and Fact (Orchestral)” by Zapac, available from ccMixter
Into The Garden” by Loveshadow, available from ccMixter
Etincelle” by Oursvince, available from Jamendo

 

Podcast 55: The nature of South African environmental history

Riebeeck at Cape of Good Hope

An imaginary scene depicting of the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in Table Bay showing the land, its people and the environment that the Europeans so totally misread. The European settlers were not able to mange the South African environment within its limits because they misinterpreted the nature of African nature and it created a legacy that still endures. (Painting by Charles Bell, 1813-1882). Source: Wikipedia.

On 14 and 15 November 2013, the 44th symposium of the Australian Academy of the Humanities was held at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. This year the meeting focused on the burgeoning field of the environmental humanities and the symposium was entitled The question of nature. The first two sessions of the symposium were devoted to an important component of the environmental humanities: environmental history.

The symposium opened with a keynote address by leading environmental historian Jane Carruthers, Emeritus Professor at the University of South Africa. Her talk, entitled “The question of nature, or the nature of the question?”, explored the nature and purpose of environmental history in South Africa. In this episode of the Exploring Environmental History Podcast professor Carruthers argues that the European settlers were not able to manage South Africa’s environment within its limits because they misinterpreted the nature of African nature and it created a legacy that still endures. She explores why and how environmental history has an urgent role to play in addressing this legacy and should contribute to discussions about issues such as environmental and social resilience and sustainability as well as social justice. Jane Carruthers argues that environmental historians are well equipped to raise questions related to environmental and social issues particular to emerging countries such as South Africa.

 

Links and sites mentioned in the podcast
Jane Carruthers, “Environmental History For An Emerging World”, Conservation and Society (2013), Download from the journal’s website.

Website Jane Carruthers

Programme 44th Symposium of the Australian Academy for the Humanities

 

Music credits
Where You Are Now” by Zapac, available from ccMixter
Lhasa” by Nic Bommarito, available from The Free Music Archive

Podcast 54: The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: a historical perspective

IPCC 2013 report coverOn 27 September 2013 the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its highly anticipated summary for policymakers, in advance of its fifth assessment report that will be published in early 2014. This special episode of the podcast, explores briefly the origins of the organisation that produced this landmark report and, in more detail, the difficult international negotiations that have used the IPCC’s findings since its inception. This historical overview ends with the question whether we can learn anything from previous problems of atmospheric pollution, in this case the Great London Smog and the ozone hole, to tackle global warming.

The podcast concludes with a brief interview of historical climatologist Dagomar Degroot and his response to the summary of the fifth assessment report from the perspective of climate history. Dagomar is a PhD Candidate in environmental history at York University in Toronto, Canada.

Relevant web resources
Dagomar Degroot, Understanding the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, HistoricalClimatology.com

Maggie Koerth Baker, “The value of talking about values. It’s time to be explicit about how our beliefs affect what we think should be done with the science of climate change“, Ensia, 25 September 2013.

Met Office, The Great Smog of 1952

Jan Oosthoek, “The IPCC and the Ozone Hole: a Warning from History“, Globalizations, March 2008, Vol. 5, No. 1, 63-66.

Music credits
Forward” by Northbound, available from Free Music Archive
Alice In the City” by Doxent Zsigmond, available from ccMixter
Improvisation On Friday…” by Alex, available from ccMixter

Podcast 53: Desire for the Wild – Wild Desires? The trouble with rewilding

Konik ponies

A foal in the Konik pony herd at Wicken Fen.
Photo: Dolly Jørgensen.

It is undeniable that human influence is now felt in almost every ecosystem, region and ocean of the world. As a result wilderness or wild nature is becoming less abundant. In response to this less wild world, landscape and ecosystem restorations are undertaken all over the globe. One of these places is the wetland area of Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, England, where the National Trust is attempting a landscape scale restoration. This programme is not just about restoring but also “rewilding” the landscape. A big part of the Wicken Fen restoration involves the introduction of large grazers: Konik ponies and Highland cattle.

In April a workshop was held at Wicken Fen entitled Desire for the Wild – Wild Desires? Re-wilding in a world of social, environmental and climate change. This workshop considered what “wild” and “rewilding” of nature means and what history can contribute to efforts to rewild and restore landscapes and ecosystems.

Map Wicken Fen

Map of Wicken fen and location.
source: Ordnance Survey, One-inch
to the mile maps of England and Wales,
New Popular Edition, 1945-1947, sheet 135.

The guest on this podcast is is Dolly Jørgensen, a historian of Science and the Environment based at Umeå University in Sweden. Dolly presented a paper at the workshop on how rewilding has been an argument meaning different things to different academic sub-groups, all with a different historical notion of ‘when was wild’. Dolly deconstructs the different meanings of rewilding, and also follows the trail to find wildness all around us.

This podcast is the first of two episodes exploring the Desire for the Wild – Wild Desires? workshop.

Literature mentioned & further reading
William Cronon, “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature”, In: William Cronon (ed.), Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995), pp. 69-90.

Josh Donlan, et al., “Re-wilding North America”, Nature, Vol. 436 (18 August 2005), pp. 913-914.

Josh Donlan, et al., “Pleistocene Rewilding: An Optimistic Agenda for Twenty‐First Century Conservation”,The American Naturalist, Vol. 168, No. 5 (November 2006), pp. 660-681.

Caroline Fraser, Rewilding the World. Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2009)

George Monbiot, Feral: Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding (London: Allen Lane, 2013)

Ian D. Rotherham, The Lost Fens: England’s Greatest Ecological Disaster (The History Press, 2013)

Relevant web resources
The Return of Native Nordic Fauna – A Research Blog by Dolly Jørgensen

Dolly Jørgensen, Reflections on rewilding, Return of Native Nordic Fauna, 30 September 2013. Includes the video mentioned in the podcast.

The Places that Speak to us project website

Paul Warde, The Anthropocene: finding ourselves back in the wilderness. Reflections on the workshop on Re-wilding and Wild Desires at Wicken, 18-19 April 2013

Carl Elliot Smith, Rewilding: should we introduce lions and Komodo dragons to Australia?, ABC RN Radio, Wednesday 3 July, 2013. Listen also to Future Tense to find out more about the strand of conservation theory known as rewilding.

George Monbiot, My manifesto for rewilding the world, The Guardian, 28 May, 2013.

Also listen to episodes 38 and 40 of Exploring Environmental History Podcast. Both explore the Wicken Fen Vision and the history of the Fens of Cambridgeshire.

Music credits
Where You Are Now” by Zapac, available from ccMixter
Cm 105 bpm” by Admiral Bob, available from ccMixter

AHRCThe Places that Speak to Us Project and the production of this podcast was funded by the AHRC Landscape & Environment Programme.

This podcast was simultaneously published on the Histories of Environmental Change website.

Podcast 52: Scientific and environmental diplomacy and the Antarctic

Antarctica

A view from space of Antarctica. Source: NASA

Antarctica is a unique continent because is mostly covered in ice and, importantly, it is the only continent that has never been settled by humans until scientific bases were established in the 20th C. This makes it an international space which has implications for the environmental regulatory regimes that have developed over time as well as the way we view the continent. Without a popular tradition of natural history, or amateur ornithology, or locals dependent on wild resources from which a conservation ethic might emerge, it was trained, international biologists who led the development of nature protection and conservation in Antarctica.

The guest on this podcast episode is Alessandro Antonello, a PhD candidate in the School of History at the Australian National University’s Research School of Social Sciences, in Canberra, Australia. In this podcast he explores the scientific, environmental and diplomatic aspects of Antarctic history, in particular from the inception of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959. He also examines changing conceptions of the Antarctic in the second half of the 20th century and places this in a wider historical context.

Further reading
Marcus Haward and Tom Griffiths (eds.), Australia and the Antarctic Treaty system: 50 years of influence, UNSW Press, 2011.

Acronyms used
AMCAFF: Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora
SCAR: Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
CCAMLR: Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
CSIRO: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
CCAS: Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals
IGY: International Geophysical Year (1957)

Music credits
Where You Are Now” by Zapac, available from ccMixter
2012Piano” by snowflake, available from ccMixter

Podcast 51: The Scottish forestry experience and the development of forestry in India

Since at least the 18th century Scotland has been the centre of forestry knowledge in Britain. Many foresters and botanists trained on Scottish estates went into the colonial service in during the 19th century and what they brought with them was a unique set of forestry skills. This paper examines the influence of Scottish foresters on the development of empire forestry in British India. Scottish-trained foresters aided the adaptation of continental forestry models, mainly German and French, to the Indian conditions, drawing on their experience gained in Scotland. Returning from their service in India they went on to advocate the creation of a forestry service in Scotland, which resonated with landowners who believed that forestry would make the Highlands more productive.

This podcast is the registration of a seminar talk given by Jan Oosthoek in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, 22 March 2013.

Music credit
Where You Are Now” by Zapac Available from ccMixter

 

Podcast 50: Conquering the Highlands. History of the afforestation of the Scottish uplands

Forest plantation

Large forest plantation in the Scottish
Highlands. Photo: Jan Oosthoek

By the end of the nineteenth century, Scotland’s woodlands were reduced to about six per cent of land cover. Over the course of the twentieth century, foresters worked to establish timber reserves in the Scottish Highlands, creating forests on marginal lands that were not easily adapted to forestry following millennia of deforestation. Using a variety of techniques and strategies drawn from modern forestry practices, the Scottish uplands were afforested in the twentieth century, tripling the forest cover. The creation of new forests to serve strategic and economic interests, however, altered the ecology of the Scottish uplands and eventually came into conflict with the interests of environmentalists in the late twentieth century.

Conquering the HiglandsThis fascinating history of the afforestation of the Scottish uplands is explored in a new book by environmental historian Jan Oosthoek called, Conquering the Highlands: A History of the Afforestation of the Scottish Uplands. This episode features an interview with the author Jan Oosthoek of this book and he talks about the largest environmental transformation of the Scottish Highlands in the 20th century.

Links & sites mentioned in the podcast
Download Conquering the Highlands as a free e-book from the ANU Press website.
Buy a print copy of Conquering the Highlands from Amazon.
Nature’s Past podcast

Music credits

Lark in the Morning. The Atholl Highlanders” by Sláinte
Available from freemusicarchive.org

Scotland the Brave” by Shake That Little Foot
Available from freemusicarchive.org

Podcast 49: Kielder: the story of a man-made landscape

Kielder houses

Former Forestry Commission workers houses in Kielder Village withforestry plantations in the background. Source: geograph.org.uk/Stephen Richards.

Around the world, rural landscapes have been transformed by human activity as never before. In England, one of the most striking locations of such anthropogenic changes is Kielder Forest and Water in Northumberland. Since the 1920s, this site has seen a massive tree planting effort, creating one of the largest man-made forests in Western Europe. During the 1970s a large dam and reservoir were constructed at Kielder in order to create a secure water supply for the industries at Teeside. As a result Kielder has witnessed significant and dramatic environmental changes over the course of the twentieth century, as it was transformed from a pastoral agricultural landscape, to that of a commercial forest and finally it received the addition of a large man-made lake.

Construction Kielder Reservoir

The construction of Kielder Dam
and Reservoir. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

To tease out how people have experienced and perceived the man-made environment of Kielder, the Kielder Oral History Project was conducted. On this episode of the podcast, the two researchers who carried out the Oral History project, Professor David Moon of the University of York and Dr Leona Skelton of Durham University, will discuss some of their findings.

 

 

Books and articles mentioned

Christine McCulloch, Dam Decisions and Pipe Dreams: The Political Ecology of Reservoir Schemes (Teesdale, Farndale and Kielder Water) in North East England (Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag, 2008)

R. McIntosh,’The history and multi-purpose management of Kielder Forest’, Forest Ecology and Management, 79 (November 1995) 1–2, pp 1–11.

Ruth Tittensor, From Peat Bog to Conifer Forest: An Oral History of Whitelee, its Community and Landscape (Chichester: Packard Publishing, 2009).

Relevant links
Kielder oral History project report
Kielder Village Website
Kielder Water and Forest Park website
Kielder Water Wikipedia page
Kielder Forest Wikipedia page

Music credits

Memories of an Old Dog” by Fireproof_Babies
Available from ccMixter

Where You Are Now” by Zapac
Available from ccMixter


Acknowledgements:
The interviews were conducted by Dr Leona Skelton at Kielder during the week 15-19 October 2012. We would like to acknowledge the support of Northumbrian Water plc, especially Andrew Moore and Tonia Reeve, the Forestry Commission, in particular Graham Gill, Julie and Steve Webb of the Kielder Village Store, Duncan Hutt of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, and the staff of the Calvert Trust Kielder for their assistance in setting up the interviews and, especially, all those who agreed to be interviewed.

AHRCThe Kielder Oral History Project and the production of this podcast was funded by the AHRC Landscape & Environment Programme.

This podcast was simultaneously published on the Histories of Environmental Change website.