Nature isn't racist. Nature doesn't target the poor. So if you see disparate impacts with Harvey, ask what human choices caused them.
— Andy Horowitz (@andydhorowitz) August 27, 2017
Referring to this tweet by historian, Andy Horowitz, Jacob Remes, author of Disaster Citizenship: Survivors, Solidarity, and Power, lends his voice to the flurry of reaction pieces seeking to understand the antecedents to and implications of Hurricane Harvey. Remes argues that a hurricane is not a disaster until it interacts and upsets society’s infrastructure, both built and social. Remes states that disasters “often replicate and deepen social inequalities.” The poorer members of society often also live in the most flood-prone areas. Remes ends with a hopeful message, stating that disasters often lessen social divides by pulling people together.
Rachel Carson Center’s summer blog series, “Danube Excursions,” on Seeing the Woods has explored the length of the Danube River. In this instalment, Christoph Netz describes an outing near on the Danube near Vienna. Netz starts at a lock and weir where flow dynamics research on different river beds is conducted. The flow of the Danube has been greatly altered by hydroelectric dams, which trap sediment, and other developments. The research is supposed to inform the government as to how to better manage the Danube’s sediment regime. Netz also discusses other ecological projects connected to the river’s environmental history, including the invasive plant, the Japanese knotweed, and the restocking of sterlets.
In this post on Discard Studies, John Clark discusses the way in which the Smarden pesticide incident led to the birth of the modern British environmental movement. Clark opens by stating that “today we take for granted an awareness of environmental matters, but this was not always the case. It could be said that in Britain there was a moment when that environmental consciousness arrived.” In 1963, some farm animals died in Smarden due to a pesticide spill at a local chemical plant. This was the first recorded mass-poisoning of livestock in Britain. Clark discusses why the timing of this incident paired with the release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to create the perfect atmosphere for international consequences.
In this post, William Thomas Okie, discusses the way in which the “story of the Georgia Peach” was developed. This year has been one of the worst for Georgia’s peach industry; there has been almost 80% crop loss. However, this is not necessarily disastrous to Georgia’s agricultural economy because the peach is less important economically than it is cultural and historically. The peach tree was introduced to the Americas by Spanish monks in the 1550s, but it took much longer for the peach growing industry to be perfected. Okie argues that “producing large, unblemished fruit that can be shipped thousands of miles away, and doing so reliably, year after year, demands an intimate environmental knowledge that has developed slowly over the last century and a half of commercial peach production.” Okie discusses various facets of this slow development including peach blossom festivals and peach farm labour’s connection to the Civil Rights Movement.
In this fascinating piece, Hanne E.F. Nielsen and Elizabeth Leane, demonstrate the way in which three cows got mixed up in the geopolitics of Antarctica during the during the mid-1930s. In 1933, US Admiral Richard E. Byrd took three Guernsey cows – charmingly named Klondike Gay Nira, Deerfoot Guernsey Maid, and Foremost Southern Girl – with him on his Second Antarctic Expedition. Nielsen and Leane point out that it was a lot of work to keep these cows alive and ask the question as to why it was worth it. They then connect these cows to conceptions of fresh milk as representative of purity and US national identity and to geopolitics as colonial agents.
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