Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Prehistory 1
This is the story of how people first reached the Americas and what they did when they got here. We’ll discuss the regular climate cycles that produce ice ages and the changes that result. We’ll discover Beringia, where the ancestors of Native Americans lived for thousands of years. And we’ll talk about the first Americans.
Chapter 2: Recontact 24
The cultures of the Americas developed separately from their Eurasian cousins for about 12,000 years. In this chapter we’ll explore what happened when Europeans discovered the Americas.
Chapter 3: Colonial North America 38
Who came to North America? What did they expect? What did they find? What did they do?
Chapter 4: Frontier and Grid 51
In this chapter we explore the lure of the Western Frontier on colonists and early Americans, and how people began expanding westward from the initial European settlements in North America.
Chapter 5: Commons, Mills, Corporations 77
The Industrial Revolution not only changed America’s economy and spurred the growth of cities; it changed the way Americans relate to the natural environment. In this chapter we trace changes in our ideas of what the environment is for, and who it’s for.
Chapter 6: Transportation Revolution 96
The ability to move people and goods from place to place quickly and affordably changed American society radically. The economic and political changes that went along with transportation technology were equally revolutionary.
Chapter 7: Centers and Peripheries 113
In this chapter we examine the complex relationships between Eastern and Western cities, as centers of production and consumption, and the peripheral places they depended on for raw materials and consumers.
Chapter 8: Green Revolution 131
Although we may not be aware of it, the continued existence of the modern world depends on three minerals. In this chapter we’ll explore the history of fertilizer.
Chapter 9: City Life 143
Rapid growth stressed city environments, and growing cities made controversial claims on the environments outside the city limits. Some profited, and others worked to improve city life for everyone.
Chapter 10: Wilderness & Country Life 160
In this chapter we examine both the actions of nineteenth-century Americans with respect to the environment, and the ways their ideas about wilderness and life in rural America influenced those actions.
Chapter 11: Farmers & Agribusiness 176
Farmers have been central to each of the periods we have covered in previous chapters. In this chapter, we focus on the farms themselves and look at how they have changed over time and what those changes might mean.
Chapter 12: Treasures Underground 192
Natural resources have always been an important motivation for nations exploring the Americas. In this chapter we'll explore the treasures Europeans and Americans found in the western hemisphere and the ongoing search for resources.
Chapter 13: Limits to Growth? 206
Are human societies able to continue growing forever, or are there limits to the Earth's carrying capacity? A short explanation of some of the economics concepts that keep coming up in this text.
Chapter 14: Economics & Externalities 218
A short explanation of some of the economics concepts that keep coming up in this text.
Chapter 15: Food and Choice 228
We can take the knowledge we gain studying history and apply it to our present and to the future. Here’s one possibility.
What have I done in the last year? Well, I finished my dissertation in the spring and defended it at UMass during the first week of June. So now I’m a legitimate PhD, which came in very handy in August when a professor at Bemidji State went on sick-leave and I was hired to teach her classes. I taught two sections of World History II (1500 to present) and a section of History of World Religions. A bit out of my wheelhouse, but I’ve done a lot of reading about religion over the years, so I managed it.
The semester just ended last week, and through most of it I was pretty busy writing lectures, quizzes, exams, and discussion notes. And reading the texts I chose, which I was of course unfamiliar with. I tried to insert some Environmental History into the World syllabus, which I thought worked out fairly well. The classes kept me running to stay a couple of steps ahead of the students. I enjoyed working in front of a physical rather than an online class – maybe there will be more opportunities to do it at BSU in the future.
While this was happening, I completed a book proposal and responded to readers reports. The result is, my dissertation Peppermint Kings is under contract for the Yale University Agrarian Studies Series. Yeah, really! So I’ll have something to do this winter, after the holiday guests all go home. I promised to deliver a 100,000-word manuscript by July 1st, but if I’m not working at BSU this spring I hope to turn it in around March 1st so the book will have a chance of being released on the Spring 2019 list, in time for conferences.
And while I was doing all that, I took TopHat up on an offer to convert my American Environmental History textbook into an online text/course for them. I completed that also last week, and it should be hitting TopHat’s marketplace soon. That project gave me an opportunity to revise and complete the print and ebook versions of the text. It’s now a full 15-chapter semester-long book. About 267 pages long, with 196 images and an ample bibliography. Should be hitting Amazon in a week or so – I’ll let you know!