Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism

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9780199740055: Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism

When most Americans think of environmentalism, they think of the political left, of vegans dressed in organic-hemp fabric, lofting protest signs. In reality, writes Jacob Darwin Hamblin, the movement--and its dire predictions--owe more to the Pentagon than the counterculture.

In Arming Mother Nature, Hamblin argues that military planning for World War III essentially created "catastrophic environmentalism": the idea that human activity might cause global natural disasters. This awareness, Hamblin shows, emerged out of dark ambitions, as governments poured funds into environmental science after World War II, searching for ways to harness natural processes--to kill millions of people. Proposals included the use of nuclear weapons to create artificial tsunamis or melt the ice caps to drown coastal cities; setting fire to vast expanses of vegetation; and changing local climates. Oxford botanists advised British generals on how to destroy enemy crops during the war in Malaya; American scientists attempted to alter the weather in Vietnam. This work raised questions that went beyond the goal of weaponizing nature. By the 1980s, the C.I.A. was studying the likely effects of global warming on Soviet harvests. "Perhaps one of the surprises of this book is not how little was known about environmental change, but rather how much," Hamblin writes. Driven initially by strategic imperatives, Cold War scientists learned to think globally and to grasp humanity's power to alter the environment. "We know how we can modify the ionosphere," nuclear physicist Edward Teller proudly stated. "We have already done it."

Teller never repented. But many of the same individuals and institutions that helped the Pentagon later warned of global warming and other potential disasters. Brilliantly argued and deeply researched, Arming Mother Nature changes our understanding of the history of the Cold War and the birth of modern environmental science.

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About the Author:


Jacob Darwin Hamblin is Professor of History at Oregon State University. His books include Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, Oceanographers and the Cold War, and Science in the Early Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia.

Review:


"With this book Jacob Hamblin makes a major contribution to our understanding of the decisive role of military priorities and military funding in the shaping of a wide range of environmental sciences. As a contribution to the historiography of science as conditioned by its political, ideological, social, and financial contexts, Arming Mother Nature shows how the ideologies and international institutions of the Cold War shaped the rise of fundamental environmental sciences.... A carefully crafted, powerfully articulated study of one of the most important dimensions of today's environmental policy debate.... The book is a weighty example of the importance of environmental history research in relation to the public realm." --Richard P. Tucker, Environmental History


"[A] fascinating and often disturbing history" --American Scientist


"In Arming Mother Nature, Jacob Hamblin offers a far-reaching and provocative account of just how dependent narratives of global climate change are upon the military support, apocalyptic scenarios, and political ideology that shaped the growth of the modern environmental sciences during the Cold War." --Science Magazine


"[T]hought-provoking" --New Scientist


"This book advances the intriguing idea that 'catastrophic environmentalism' is not standard rhetoric warning the public about climate change and extinction of species, but a strategy developed by the Pentagon to fight the Cold War. Recommended." --CHOICE


"A well-written and -documented challenge of some of the assumptions on both sides in the debate about global warming." --Kirkus Reviews


"Jacob Hamblin's new book is a clearly and calmly told tale of the American effort to conscript nature -from the seafloor to the stratosphere -for potential active duty during the Cold War. Well researched in U.S. and European archives, it finds the roots of modern apocalyptic environmentalism in the hair-raising deeds and often hare-brained schemes of an American scientific-military complex under pressure to find ways to prevail against the USSR. It sheds new light on the old adage that is a miracle anyone survived the Cold War."
--J.R. McNeill, Georgetown University


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Descrizione libro Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Famines. Diseases. Natural catastrophes. In 1945, scientists imagined these as the future faces of war. The United States and its allies prepared for a global struggle against the Soviet Union by using science to extend total war ideas to the natural environment. Biological and radiological weapons, crop destruction, massive fires, artificial earthquakes and tsunamis, ocean current manipulation, sea level tinkering, weather control, and even climate change-all these became avenues of research at the height of the Cold War. By the 1960s, a new phrase had emerged: environmental warfare. The same science-in fact, many of the same people-also led the way in understanding the earth s vulnerability during the environmental crisis of the 1970s. The first reports on human-induced climate change came from scientists who had advised NATO about how to protect the western allies from Soviet attack. Leading ecologists at Oxford also had helped Britain wage a war against crops in Malaya-and the Americans followed suit in Vietnam.The first predictions of environmental doomsday in the early 1970s came from the intellectual pioneers of global conflict resolution, and some had designed America s missile defense systems. President Nixon s advisors on environmental quality had learned how to think globally by imagining Mother Nature as an armed combatant. Knowledge of environmental threats followed from military preparations throughout the Cold War, from nuclear winter to the AIDS epidemic. How much of our catastrophic thinking about today s environmental crises do we owe to the plans for World War Three?. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780199740055

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Descrizione libro Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Famines. Diseases. Natural catastrophes. In 1945, scientists imagined these as the future faces of war. The United States and its allies prepared for a global struggle against the Soviet Union by using science to extend total war ideas to the natural environment. Biological and radiological weapons, crop destruction, massive fires, artificial earthquakes and tsunamis, ocean current manipulation, sea level tinkering, weather control, and even climate change-all these became avenues of research at the height of the Cold War. By the 1960s, a new phrase had emerged: environmental warfare. The same science-in fact, many of the same people-also led the way in understanding the earth s vulnerability during the environmental crisis of the 1970s. The first reports on human-induced climate change came from scientists who had advised NATO about how to protect the western allies from Soviet attack. Leading ecologists at Oxford also had helped Britain wage a war against crops in Malaya-and the Americans followed suit in Vietnam.The first predictions of environmental doomsday in the early 1970s came from the intellectual pioneers of global conflict resolution, and some had designed America s missile defense systems. President Nixon s advisors on environmental quality had learned how to think globally by imagining Mother Nature as an armed combatant. Knowledge of environmental threats followed from military preparations throughout the Cold War, from nuclear winter to the AIDS epidemic. How much of our catastrophic thinking about today s environmental crises do we owe to the plans for World War Three?. Codice libro della libreria AAU9780199740055

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