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Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (The Global Century Series) Paperback – April 17, 2001
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The environmental changes of the last century, McNeill closes by saying, are on an unprecedented scale, so much so that we can scarcely begin to fathom their implications. We can, however, start to think about them, and McNeill's book is a helpful primer. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Can we link man's history with that of the natural or biological world? Many have tried from both sides of the equation. Great historians and thinkers like Kant, Marx and Pierre Tielhard de Chardin have seen a direction and inevitability about history while Berlin and Popper spoke eloquently against historicism. This book doesn't go there nor does it tackle the attempt by some evolutionary biologists to explain all we see in life as determined at the genetic level. Great scientists from Einstein forward have sought some unifying or final theory and it's still going on. Today sociobiologists, quantum physicists and game theorists say they have the answers.
What McNeill contributes to this is his view that "in recent millennia, cultural evolution has shaped human affairs more than biological evolution has. Societies...Read more ›
Prior to 1800 most civilizations in the world depended on muscle power to produce wealth. Societies were generally similar with small elite's dependent on others to produce their wealth. After 1800 the world started to change as energy was used by man to produce wealth. This has continued to change the globe in ways that could never have been anticipated.
The world has seen enormous increases in population. Places such as Java had in 1800 populations of around 10 million. The current figure is some 127 million. These increases have occurred throughout the world with patterns of agriculture changing and in Western Countries people living in cities.
The book divides the history of the environment into a number of chapters which focus on specific topics. The effect on the water supply of increased irrigation and pollution. There is a chapter on air pollution and how governments have responded to it.
The book is reasonably no polemical in an area which can become highly emotive. The affect of some environmental changes such as those to the ozone layer however can have extremely long lasting effects. The current changes to reduce fluro carbons will probably take about 87 years before the ozone levels will return to normal.
All in all this book is worth a read. It is interesting as it shows how government in richer countries has been responsive to the threat to the environment but non democratic countries especially in poorer areas will continue to contribute to the environmental problems of the world.
Despite these clear dangers, McNeill argues that shark-like development policies were rational given the political, economic and social conditions in the twentieth century. In particular, he demonstrates that this form of development was conducive to innovations and large-scale projects that produced immediate material and environmental benefits as well as unexpected, less immediately visible side effects.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
J.R. McNeill’s Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-century World provides a compelling look at the unprecedented environmental impact humans have... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jake Zirkle
This should be fine for high school kids on up. It is a very objective description of the overuse of various resources which gives a thorough overview of the plight we now find... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Judy Cuff-alvarado
In this very important book McNeill describes how 20th century humans have achieved new levels of uniqueness in environmental history. Read morePublished 19 months ago by P. Mulloy
Had this for a course text in an environmental history class and enjoyed it. It's an easy read even with discussion of statistics, and covers the subject in a way that breaks it... Read morePublished 23 months ago by T. Lee
A verse* in the Old Testament proclaims, “there is no new thing under the sun.” These words come from a low-tech era when nomadic herders diminished their ecosystem so slowly that... Read morePublished on June 7, 2014 by Richard Reese (author of Understanding Sustainability)