1840 Term Review
This course has focused on the question of anthropogenic (human caused) impacts on the environment, and how science and technology have shaped those impacts.
We covered a number of topics over the term:
Large mammal extinction in the Late Quaternary period, Martin’s thesis that this extinction was due to migrating human hunters
The early urbanization of the ancient civilizations, achieved in all cases through the use of large scale irrigation agriculture and resulting in large scale, centralized bureaucracies
The use of hydrological engineering to drain swamplands to create arable land, and the lack of a centralized government to do so
The use of technologies (horses, steel arms and armor, disease, the resources of the state, writing) to expand colonial land holdings, leading to a significant population shift
The growth of “objective knowledge” through familiarity with new objects, and how that knowledge allowed science to grow
The use of animals as natural resources and fiscal tools of the state, one example being the fur trade in Canada.
The emergence of global trade and commerce, and its subsequent increase in population (and therefore environmental impacts)
The maximization of resource production through the use of technology and how this impacts what kind of product is created (e.g. sawmills and wood)
State ownership of natural resources, its tendency to treat nature as a fiscal tool, and the tendency for both the state and industry to use nature for profit
The development of colonial water management technologies to control nature (prevent flooding) and create profit from nature (charging for water use)
The tendency to maximize efficiency, when used on natural resources, can lead to destruction of those resources
The merger of science and industry in the late 19 th
century, and how this led to monopolization, increased patenting, mergers and acquisitions, and the direction of science to economic ends
The automobile, its design, the competition from the electric car, and the role of consumers in shaping technological development.
The use of the automobile tourism to promote conservation of redwood trees, and attitudes towards the automobile and the environment.
The difficulty in making nature legible and thus profitable in certain cases (mineral surveying), and how this is addressed by technology (aerial photography)
The development of artificial products using science, and the role of these in conservation of natural resources
The production of electricity using large scale, centralized, distributed power technologies, and the impact of the conservation movement on the industry
The importance of certain technologies to globalization, specifically diesel engines and gas turbines, that power international shipping of goods.
The tendency to build new technologies based on the experience of old technologies, which can lead to sub-optimal results in particular industries (e.g. nuclear)
Technologies can be used to achieve political ends (technopolitics), which may not be environmentally beneficial.
All technologies have environmental costs, particularly when scaled up to the level necessary for modern production levels (e.g. hydroelectric dams)
Modern chemicals have allowed food production to work on a mass scale, but they have costs for the environment and human populations.
Global warming, and the importance of complex computer models to the debate.
Multiple choice questions for the exam will be taken from several sources:
The lecture summaries
A few clarifications:
You are not responsible for memorizing dates or names
You are not responsible for any materials discussed in the readings but not in the lecture
Look for definitions of words, explanations of concepts and lists of factors.
What is the advantage of arranging forests geometrically and reducing to one species of tre? a) forest is cheaper to clear b) log sizes are standardized c) production forecasts are more accurate d) output is more reliable e) all of the above
In a late 19 th
century city, what was the equivalent of a parking lot? a) a motel b) a ditch c) a stable d) a fire station e) none of the above