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Environmental History

  • By: Leonie Seabrook, Andres Etter & Clive McAlpine
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

There are two immutable facts that underlie human-environment interactions. First, humans are part of the biosphere, and we rely on it to meet our essential needs. Second, through human history, but increasingly over the past 300 yrs. (years), we have become the dominant agent of environmental change. Understanding the relationship between humans and their environment has become increasingly important in recent decades due to human-accelerated environmental change, most pronounced in global climate change, biological extinctions, and soil and water degradation.

Environmental history is the field of study concerned with the systematic understanding of long-term transformations of landscapes, ecosystems, and natural resources through the interaction of humans with the environment, and the role of feedbacks of environmental change on human societies (Figure 1). Environmental history aims to ...

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