At present there are many environmental anxieties related to pollution, species extinction, climate change, acid deposition and many others. However, environmental anxieties are nothing new and were also experienced during the colonial period of the 19th and early 20th century. Colonial authorities and settlers in the British Empire encountered unfamiliar environments and the combination with environmental changes caused by their activities led to widespread environmental anxieties. The most important concern was anxiety over climate change. In 19th century debates surrounding this issue, highly emotive, highly alarmist arguments were made that are very similar to the ones used today. In this episode, James Beattie, Senior Lecturer at the Department of History of the University of Waikato in New Zealand explores these anxieties of settlers, scientist and colonial officials in India, Australia and New Zealand.
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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:
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