By Daniel Rothenburg
Alessandro Antonello: The Greening of Antarctica: Assembling an International Environment. New York: Oxford University Press 2019. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-greening-of-antarctica-9780190907174?cc=us&lang=en&.
“In The Greening of Antarctica Alessandro Antonello investigates the development of an international regime of environmental protection and management between the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959 and the signing of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in 1980. In those two decades, the Antarctic Treaty parties and an international community of scientists reimagined what many considered a cold, sterile, and abiotic wilderness as a fragile and extensive regional ecosystem. Antonello investigates this change by analysing the negotiations and developments surrounding four environmental agreements: the Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora in 1964; the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals in 1972; a voluntary restraint resolution on Antarctic mining in 1977; and the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in 1980.”
Alessandro Antonello: The Antarctic Treaty as a Temporal Order; in: Polar Record 2019 (1-3) https://doi.org/10.1017/S0032247419000408.
“Diplomats, officials, scientists and other actors working with the Antarctic Treaty System have not simply negotiated a range of measures for regulating human access to the region in a physical sense. They are also continually negotiating a cultural order, one in which time is central. Antarctic actors are aware that the Treaty did not once exist and may cease to exist sometime in the future. They are conscious of environmental change. Each actor tries to elevate their standing and power in the system by deploying temporal ideas and discourses in their interactions with each other: bringing their histories into negotiations, trying to control the idea of the future. This article will map three temporalities within Treaty history: first, the deployment and potency of histories and futures, their relative rhythms and lengths; second, permanence and expiration, the questions and politics of how long the Treaty should or might last; and third, the periodisation of the Treaty period, both among actors themselves and among scholars studying Antarctica.”
Tim Bonyhady: The Enchantment of the Long-haired Rat: A Rodent History of Australia. Melbourne: Text Publishing 2019. https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/the-enchantment-of-the-long-haired-rat-a-rodent-history-of-australia.
“The long-haired rat breeds and spreads prodigiously after big rains. Its irruptions were plagues to European colonists, who feared and loathed all rats, but times of feasting for Aboriginal people. Tim Bonyhady explores the place of the long-haired rat in Aboriginal culture. He recounts how settler Australians responded to it, learned about it and, occasionally, came to recognise the wonder of it. And he reconstructs its changing, shrinking landscape—once filled with bilbies, letter-winged kites and inland taipans, but now increasingly the domain of feral cats.”
Johanna Conterio, Curative Nature: Medical Foundations of Soviet Nature Protection, 1917-1941; in: Slavic Review78 (1/ 2019) 23-49. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/slr.2019.16.
“In 1922, there were 35 state health resorts in the Soviet Union. This article introduces the historic role of health resorts as sites of nature conservation in the Soviet Union, comparable to national parks and nature reserves (zapovedniki), and highlights the role of physicians and medical ideas in the formulation and promotion of conservation policies in the Soviet Union. It analyses conservation laws and regulations that covered health resorts, which prohibited a range of activities throughout the territories of the resorts to protect natural healing resources such as mineral waters, muds and beaches. Soviet health resorts became influential centres of conservation in the mid-1930s, when, as Douglas Weiner has demonstrated, the science of ecology lost state support and the centres for ecological study in the nature reserves were dismantled. The idea that the natural environment should be protected to serve human health gained influence with official patrons in the Soviet state because physicians explicitly aligned the health resorts with the anthropocentric ideology of the state and its goal of industrialization, demonstratively opening up health resort medicine to the industrial workforce. Curative ideas of nature also formed the foundation for a Stalinist value around nature protection, for health. State patronage of health resort conservation increased in the Stalinist period, culminating in 1940, when the reach of conservation was extended beyond the leading state resorts to local health resorts. The final section of the article examines conservation work in practice in the health resort, Sochi.”
Margaret Cook: A River with a City Problem: A History of Brisbane Floods. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press 2019. https://www.uqp.uq.edu.au/Book.aspx/1514/A%20River%20with%20a%20City%20Problem-%20A%20History%20of%20Brisbane%20Floods.
“When floods devastated South East Queensland in 2011, who was to blame? Despite the inherent risk of living on a floodplain, most residents had pinned their hopes on Wivenhoe Dam to protect them, and when it failed to do so, dam operators were blamed for the scale of the catastrophic events that followed. A River with a City Problem examines the history of floods in the Brisbane River catchment, especially those in 1893, 1974 and 2011. It highlights the force of nature, the vagaries of politics and the power of community. With many river cities facing urban development challenges, the book develops an argument for what must change to prevent further tragedy.”
Margaret Cook: Cotton Dreaming; in: Australian Policy and History. 30 July 2019. http://aph.org.au/cotton-dreaming/.
“Why do we grow cotton in Australia? The country’s vast cotton holdings are the subject of public ire for their profligate water usage, embroiled in national arguments over the devastation of the Murray Darling Basin, water theft and public service/government corruption. But when cotton was first mooted as suitable for Australia’s climate, it was bestowed with the characteristic of water frugality. I argue that Australia produces nine percent of the world’s cotton, the third highest global exporter of cotton behind USA and India. Proponents of cotton and globalisation point to Australia’s high yield, almost three times the world average, implying good value per megalitre. But along with the 90 percent of Australia’s cotton that is exported goes water from the world’s driest inhabited continent at a detrimental environmental cost. Government water allocation policies must be reviewed, assigning a true economic value to the environmental degradation and the diminishing commodity of water.”
Peter Davies and Susan Lawrence: Engineered Landscapes of the Southern Murray-Darling Basin: Anthropocene Archaeology in Australia; in: The Anthropocene Review 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019619872826.
“The past two centuries have been characterised by extensive geo-engineering of the earth’s surface to meet human needs and purposes, creating durable landscape features that will persist long into the future. Mining and construction, for example, have recently been identified as the world’s most significant geomorphological agents, mobilising more sediment and waste material than natural processes combined. Anthropogenic landforms including reconfigured rivers, soil profiles remodelled by erosion and sediment fluxes, mining voids, and earthworks constructed for transport corridors are all archaeological features representing human modifications to the natural world at a range of spatial scales. This planetary ‘archaeosphere’ represents the systematic reconfiguration of natural stratigraphy that has resulted in the creation of a new and enduring geoarchaeology.”
Andrea Gaynor, Margaret Cook, Lionel Frost, Jenny Gregory, Ruth Morgan, Martin Shanahan, Peter Spearritt, Susan Avey, Nathan Etherington, Elizabeth Gralton, and Daniel Martin: Drought, Mud, Filth, and Flood: Water Crises in Australian Cities, 1880s–2010s. Environment & Society Portal. Virtual Exhibitions 2019, no. 3. Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. https://doi.org/10.5282/rcc/8383.
“In this exhibition, we invite visitors to consider the historical relationship of ‘water crises’ of various kinds to the development of urban water systems, through the experience of the driest inhabited continent on earth, Australia. We have chosen a range of different departures from water-related business as usual—from shortage to flood, pollution to drainage—in the five mainland Australian state capitals from the late nineteenth century to the present. The part of this exhibition devoted to each city focuses thematically on just one or two kinds of crisis, while the timeline covers a wider range of events in each place.”
Jarrod Hore: Capturing ‘Terra Incognita’: Alfred Burton, ‘Maoridom’ and Wilderness in the King Country; in: Australian Historical Studies 50 (2/2019) 188-211. https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2019.1592205.
“Across the settler colonies of the late nineteenth century the placemaking projects of newcomers were imbricated with Indigenous dispossession. Settler colonialism was, above all, a spatial project, and while the social and legal innovations of settler invasion have attracted substantial scholarly attention over the past two decades, its environmental dimensions remain insufficiently explored. Settler colonial studies might make more of its spatial turn. Through a close reading of the work of the Dunedin photographer Alfred Burton this article shows that visions of nature were the product of a system that managed continuing Indigenous presence by developing new conventions of representation. These practices divided Indigenous people from the landscapes that they inhabited, embellished settler environmental transformations, and contrived new natures. This article draws environmental history and settler colonial studies together to better understand the shared spatial foundations of Indigenous dispossession and settler placemaking.”
Rebecca Jones and Andrea Gaynor: Wild Harvesting, Self-Sown Crops and the Ambiguous Modernity of Australian Agriculture; in: Agricultural History 93 (2/2019) 212-232. https://doi.org/10.3098/ah.2019.093.2.212.
“The beginning of European-style agriculture in Australia, following colonization by Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, occurred at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Australian agriculture developed a precocious global export orientation along with a broad uptake of scientific methods and new agricultural technologies. We argue that although Australian agriculture was ‘born modern,’ its modernity was ambiguous, as sitting beside its conventionally modern attributes were practices such as the harvesting, by farmers, of wild plants and animals as well as self–sown cereal crops. These practices were widespread and contributed significantly to the operation of the farm and the broader agricultural economy. The ubiquity and importance of these practices challenge conventional understandings of the modernity of Australian agriculture by disrupting ideas of the supremacy of the export economy, the ubiquity of scientific agriculture, and the displacement of human control from its position at the centre of modern agriculture.”
Gael Keig, Robin L. Hide, Susan M. Cuddy, Heinz Buettikofer, Jennifer A. Bellamy, Pieter Bleeker, David Freyne, and John McAlpine: CSIRO and Land Research in Papua New Guinea 1950–2000: Part 1: Pre-Independence; in: Historical Records of Australian Science 30 (2/2019) 83-99. https://doi.org/10.1071/HR18019.
“During the period 1953–69, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) conducted fourteen integrated land resource surveys in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea with the aim of identifying areas suitable for accelerated development. The resulting reconnaissance-level regional survey reports and maps provided extensive baseline information for national development planning. Related disciplinary publications expanded scientific knowledge of land resources and resource use in the wet tropics more generally. Substantial botanical collections carried out during the surveys contributed to building the Papua New Guinea (PNG) national collection at the Lae Herbarium and to the establishment of what is now the Australian National Herbarium.”
Gael Keig, Robin L. Hide, Susan M. Cuddy, Heinz Buettikofer, Jennifer A. Bellamy, Pieter Bleeker, David Freyne, and John McAlpine: CSIRO and Land Research in Papua New Guinea 1950–2000: Part 2: Post-Independence; in: Historical Records of Australian Science 30 (2/2019) 100-111. https://doi.org/10.1071/HR18025.
“Following Papua New Guinea (PNG) Independence in 1975, the new administration approached Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) directly concerning the need to address issues related to food security and village-based agriculture. A subsequent series of collaborative research projects between CSIRO and PNG government departments built upon the existing survey information to provide PNG with one of the earliest national-level, computer-based resource information systems, with widespread applications, particularly in agriculture, forestry, environmental management and planning. Part 1 of this historical review discussed the evolution, conduct and outcomes of the CSIRO integrated surveys over the period 1950–75, while Part 2 describes the subsequent research projects that arose from the surveys and concluded in 2000. In addition, the legacy of CSIRO involvement in land research in PNG is examined in relation to advances made both within individual scientific disciplines and in other relevant technological fields, and to operational challenges and structural change within the organisation.“
Astrid Mignon Kirchhof and John R. McNeill: Nature and the Iron Curtain. Environmental Policy and Social Movements in Communist and Capitalist Countries 1945-1990. Pittsburg: UPitt Press 2019. https://upittpress.org/books/9780822945451/.
„In Nature and the Iron Curtain, the authors contrast communist and capitalist countries with respect to their environmental politics in the context of the Cold War. Its chapters draw from archives across Europe and the U.S. to present new perspectives on the origins and evolution of modern environmentalism on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The book explores similarities and differences among several nations with different economies and political systems, and highlights connections between environmental movements in Eastern and Western Europe.“
Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies: Sludge: Disaster on Victoria’s Goldfields. Melbourne: La Trobe University Press/Black Inc 2019. https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/sludge.
“Everyone knows gold made Victoria rich. But did you know gold mining was disastrous for the land, engulfing it in floods of sand, gravel and silt that gushed out of the mines? Or that this environmental devastation still affects our rivers and floodplains? Victorians had a name for this mining waste: ‘sludge’. Sludge submerged Victoria’s best grapevines near Bendigo, filled Laanecoorie Reservoir on the Loddon River and flowed down from Beechworth over thousands of hectares of rich agricultural land. Children and animals drowned in sludge lakes. Mining effluent contaminated three-quarters of Victoria’s creeks and rivers. Sludge is the story of the forgotten filth that plagued nineteenth-century Victoria. It exposes the big dirty secret of Victoria’s mining history – the way it transformed the state’s water and land, and how the battle against sludge helped lay the ground for the modern environmental movement.”
Joy McCann: Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2019; Sydney: NewSouth Publishing 2018. https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/W/bo39710658.html.
“Wild Sea is an environmental and cultural history of the Southern Ocean. It moves beyond the familiar heroic narratives of maritime discovery and Antarctic exploration to illuminate the nature of the Southern Ocean and its place in Western and Indigenous histories. Drawing from a vast archive of charts and maps, sea captain’s journals, whaler’s log books, missionary correspondence, voyagers’ letters, scientific reports, stories, myths and her own experiences, the author embarks on a journey across the ocean’s surfaces, along its coastlines and into its depths, revealing the distinctive physical and biological processes at work as well as the people, species, events and ideas that have shaped the ocean and our perceptions of it. In one sense this book represents a global story about changing scientific understandings about ocean environments and their vulnerability to human actions. In another sense it is a local story, showing how the Southern Ocean has defined and sustained places and people over time. Ultimately, Wild Sea seeks to raise a broader awareness and appreciation of the natural and cultural histories of this little-known ocean and its importance as a barometer of planetary climate change.”
Russell McGregor: Mateship with Nature: Nationalism and Conservation in the Writings of Alec Chisholm; in: Environment and History. July 2019. https://doi.org/10.3197/096734019X15463432087026.
“Alec Chisholm (1890—1977) inspired Australians to see nature anew. A prolific writer of popular works of natural history, he promoted a conservationist ethos. He also promoted an Australian nationalism that cherished the landscapes, flora and fauna of that country. This article explores the entwining of Chisholm’s love of nature with his commitment to Australian nationalism. In doing so, it teases out some of the complexities and ambiguities that threaded through the evolution of a conservationist ethos in Australia in the middle decades of the twentieth century.”
Russell McGregor: “People the North”: Nation-building in 1960s Australia; in: Australian Journal of Politics and History 65 (2/2019) 215-229. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajph.12565.
“The People the North Committee, founded in Townsville in 1962, was true to its name. It wanted to treble the population of northern Australia in a decade. Putting people before profits, the committee insisted that Australians had a moral obligation to prolifically populate their northern lands. Neither the ambition nor the rationale was new. In fact, the People the North Committee was the last gasp of a grand demographic aspiration that went back more than a hundred years. Thereafter, through to the present day, proposals for northern development have prioritised economic over demographic gains: profits before people. This article examines the ambitions and advocacy of the People the North Committee, setting them in the longer historical trajectory of the aspiration to people the north. In doing so, it offers a window onto a neglected facet of the nation-building project in Australia.”
Julie McIntyre: Mary Penfold: Farmer, Businesswoman — and Founder of Penfolds; in: Inside Story. 8 March 2019. https://insidestory.org.au/farmer-businesswoman-and-founder-of-penfolds/.
“Throughout her life Mary Penfold [1816—95] demonstrated shrewd skills in farm management, in selecting and directing employees, and in commerce. It was her practical approach to wine production, among other agricultural pursuits, that by the 1880s made Messrs Penfold & Co. the source of a third of all wines made in South Australia.“
Julie McIntyre, Mikael Pierre, and John Germov: To Wash Away a British Stain: Class, Trans-Imperialism and the Australian Wine Imaginary; in: Jacqueline Dutton and Peter Howland (eds.): Wine, Terroir and Utopia Making New Worlds. London: Routledge 2019. 42-57. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429492471.
“In the 1860s, Australian medical doctor Henry Lindeman believed that greater social order would flow from policies to encourage the growing and drinking of grape wine. Lindeman envisaged this ‘civilising industry’ would replace the native landscape of ‘dreary eucalyptus’ with European-style vineyards and attract thousands of happy European migrants to labour in neatly cultivated fields. Other versions of this Utopian boosterism also circulated among the nineteenth century Australian professional and political classes seeking to purify the colonies of drunken, disorderly behaviour of labourers drawn from the offspring of convicts and the Britain working classes – and the social chaos of the gold rushes. This chapter traces the key proponents of this ideology, the nuances of their convictions and their acquisition of people, plant stock and patterns of production from France, Spain and Germany. Amid this pastiche of European influences – as the British drank wine but did not produce it – some visionaries advocated that wine growers develop local specialisations in grape varieties to make wine a stratified or classed expression of place. These hopes faltered however against the stronger forces of working-class beer drinking habits, continued ampelographic confusion and British wine trade treatment of Australia’s export wines.“
Julie McIntyre: Local Knowledge and Global Science; in: SL Magazine 12 (Spring 2019) 20-23. https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/5403_sl_magazine_spring_2019_12awk-complete-web-revisednew3.pdf.
“Grazier, horticulturalist and amateur botanist William Macarthur was one of few early settlers to take Aboriginal knowledge of plants seriously. […] In 1809 John Macarthur and his younger sons James and William are laid over in Rio de Janeiro on their way from New South Wales to England. […] Forty years later, in the early 1850s, William is in bushland in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, a place familiar to him from field trips observing and collecting native plant specimens. He has sent many such plants to the herbarium at London’s Kew Gardens — the locus of nineteenth-century English-language botanical science. He has a small notebook and pencil, and is in the company of Tharawal (Dharawal) man Doctor Ellis and probably another Aboriginal man known as Johnny. […] How did the urchin in the rigging at Rio in 1809 grow into one of the few early settler Australians to pay respectful attention to Aboriginal knowledge, and broadcast it to the wider world of science?“
Gretchen Miller: The Rescue Project. https://landcareaustralia.org.au/rescue/; https://gopod.me/1476032416.
“Rescue is a partnership between Landcare Australia and UNSW and forms part of a research project into the power of citizen storytelling in environmental communication. […] Have you ever rescued a riverbank? A tract of bush, an eroded beach, a waterway, some farmland, a garden or a native tree? A native animal or bird? What do you feel as you tend to tired earth, or engage with the intrinsic value of an old-growth giant, or look into that creature’s eyes? In some way, do these things rescue you? In the act of environmental rescue we nurture a tree through drought, we restore a place, or we restore a native animal, to health. But this is not a one-way encounter. In rescuing we too receive something in return. In the act of giving back, there is a quiet emotion we might feel that nourishes ourselves, and sometimes whole communities.”
Timothy Neale, Thao Phan, and Courtney Addison: An Anthropogenic Table of Elements. Theorizing the Contemporary; in: Fieldsights. 27 June 2019. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/series/an-anthropogenic-table-of-elements-1.
“In the 150 years since its construction by the Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev, the periodic table of chemical elements has become both a ubiquitous and iconic expression of scientific thought. In its tidy arrangement of substances, identities, atomic weights, and other properties, it illustrates the chemical sciences’ ontological argument about the elemental and universal structure of nature. As Michelle Murphy has argued, this same ‘functionalist bent‘ leads to the problematic governance of chemicals as discrete entities, obscuring the complexity and inequity of our respective entanglements with toxicity and its infrastructures. The essays in this series take an ironic stance towards the functionalism and naturalism of the chemical sciences, nominating materials, beings, forces, and other entities that are elemental to our present anthropogenic predicaments. From sodium fluoroacetate, a common pesticide used to “control” rodent populations in countries such as Aotearoa New Zealand, to malhar, an Indian raga that is believed to inspire the clouds to rain, these critical and creative essays respond to a dire need to question universalist classificatory systems and to theorize the elemental in situated ways.“
Stephen J. Pyne: Fire. A Brief History. Second Edition. Harrogate: University of Washington Press 2019. http://www.combinedacademic.co.uk/fire-0.
“Over vast expanses of time, fire and humanity have interacted to expand the domain of each, transforming the earth and what it means to be human. In this concise yet wide-ranging book, Stephen J. Pyne—named by Science magazine as “the world’s leading authority on the history of fire”—explores the surprising dynamics of fire before humans, fire and human origins, aboriginal economies of hunting and foraging, agricultural and pastoral uses of fire, fire ceremonies, fire as an idea and a technology, and industrial fire. In this revised and expanded edition, Pyne looks to the future of fire as a constant, defining presence on Earth. A new chapter explores the importance of fire in the twenty-first century, with special attention to its role in the Anthropocene, or what he posits might equally be called the Pyrocene.”
Elizabeth Summerfield: Like Father, like Son: Modelling Masculinity for the Ethical Leadership of President Theodore Roosevelt; in: The Journal of Values-Based Leadership 12 (2/2019). https://scholar.valpo.edu/jvbl/vol12/iss2/16/.
“President Theodore Roosevelt is frequently portrayed as a rugged, hypermasculine cowboy. But this depiction ignores the powerful modelling for masculine leadership provided by his father, Theodore Roosevelt senior. A closer examination of the private and public spheres that framed the latter’s life offers another route into understanding the ethical and rational motivations that characterised his progressive Presidency, not least in the area of natural resource management, where his policy innovations were both unprecedented and sustained over time. What emerges is a more complex portrait than the above stereotype, a leader who used his heart, head and experience to think and act in and on the world in wholes, rather than in self-contained parts. As the systems thinking becomes increasingly recognised by governments as an essential tool for effective leadership, including in environmental problems, the mentoring of Roosevelt junior by Roosevelt senior offers a case study of first principles for learning and leading ethically.”