White - The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis...

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The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis Author(s): Lynn White, Jr. Source: Science, New Series, Vol. 155, No. 3767 (Mar. 10, 1967), pp. 1203-1207 Published by: American Association for the Advancement of Science Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1720120 . Accessed: 21/09/2011 18:52 . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. American Association for the Advancement of Science is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Science. http://www.jstor.org
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10 March 1967, Volume 155, Number 3767 OI The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis Lynn White, Jr. A conversation with Aldous Huxley not infrequently put one at the receiv- ing end of an unforgettable monologue. About a year before his lamented death he was discoursing on a favorite topic: Man's unnatural treatment of na- ture and its sad results. To illustrate his point he told how, during the pre- vious summer, he had returned to a little valley in England where he had spent many happy months as a child. Once it had been composed of delight- ful grassy 'glades; now it was becomm- ing overgrown with unsightly brush because the rabbits that formerly kept such growth under control had largely succumbed to a disease, myxomatosis, that was deliberately introduced by the local farmers to reduce the rabbits' destruction of crops. Being something of a Philistine, I could be silent no longer, even in the interests of great rhetoric. I interrupted to point out that the rabbit itself had been brought as a domestic animal to England in 1176, presumably to improve the protein diet of the peasantry. All forms of life modify their con- texts. The most spectacular and benign instance is doubtless the coral polyp. By serving its own ends, it has created a vast undersea world favorable to thousands of other kinds of animals and plants. Ever since man became a numerous species he has affected his environment notably. The hypothesis that his fire-drive method of hunting created the world's great grasslands and The author is professor of history at the Uni. versity of California, Los Angeles. This is the text of a lecture delivered 26 December 1966 at the Washington meeting of the AAAS. 10 MARCH 1967 helped to exterminate; the monster mammals of the Pleistocene from much of the globe is plausible, if not proved., For 6 millennia at least, the banks of the lower Nile have been a human artifact rather than the swampy African jungle which nature, apart from man, would have made it. The
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White - The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis...

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