Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (The Global Century Series)

Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (The Global Century Series)

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0393321835

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"Refreshingly unpolemical and at times even witty, McNeill's book brims with carefully sifted statistics and brilliant details."―Washington Post Book World

The history of the twentieth century is most often told through its world wars, the rise and fall of communism, or its economic upheavals. In his startling new book, J. R. McNeill gives us our first general account of what may prove to be the most significant dimension of the twentieth century: its environmental history. To a degree unprecedented in human history, we have refashioned the earth's air, water, and soil, and the biosphere of which we are a part. Based on exhaustive research, McNeill's story―a compelling blend of anecdotes, data, and shrewd analysis―never preaches: it is our definitive account. This is a volume in The Global Century Series (general editor, Paul Kennedy). 40 b/w photographs, 15 maps











now Polish Silesia. His father ran a dyestuff firm, for which Haber worked until he convinced his father to buy large quantities of chloride of lime, a treatment for cholera, hoping for vast profits during an 1892 epidemic in Hamburg. But the epidemic did not spread, Haber the elder was stuck with the chloride of lime, and advised his mistaken son to leave business for academia. By age 30, Haber became a distinguished chemist in Karlsruhe, doing some of the basic work that allowed the “cracking”

Imperialism, 1850–1940 (New York: Oxford University Press). Headrick, Daniel. 1990. “Technological Change.” In: B. L. Turner et al., eds., The Earth as Transformed by Human Action (New York: Cambridge University Press), 55–68. Headrick, Rita. 1994. Colonialism, Health and Illness in French Equatorial Africa, 1885–1935 (Atlanta: African Studies Association Press). Hein, Laura. 1990. Fueling Growth: The Energy Revolution and Economic Policy in Postwar Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

1950–1990; a fine summary of the weaknesses of all such calculations is found in McKellar et al. 1998:120–35. 8China’s extraordinary demographic trends are summarized in Lee and Feng 1999. Population policies since 1978 kept Chinese population 250 million below what it otherwise would have been in 1998. Growth rates in the 1960s approached 3% per annum, but in the 1970s dropped to under 2%. In 1996, China’s annual population growth rate was 1.1%. Smil 1993 considers pollution and population in

combustion—for example tiles, glass, pottery, bricks, and iron—were located near forests, as moving masses of fuel usually proved too expensive. Most industrial pollution fouled air where few people breathed it.11 Port cities constituted partial exceptions, for ships could transport wood or charcoal more cheaply. Hence Venice could maintain a glassmaking industry fueled by distant timber. Chinese cities too may have been exceptionally polluted, because the well-developed water transport system

duties included keeping homes and linens clean,20 but the prosperity that came with the smoke seemed well worth the price to those whose opinions counted. The city fathers and industrial unions of Pittsburgh, the captains of German industry, and the Russian ministers of state generally regarded belching smokestacks as signs of progress, prosperity, and power. As Chicago businessman W. P. Rend put it in 1892: “Smoke is the incense burning on the altars of industry. It is beautiful to me. It shows

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