#EnvHist Worth Reading: March 2021

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Every month I carefully track the most popular and significant environmental history articles, videos, audio, and other items making their way through the online environmental history (#envhist) community. You can read all of our past #EnvHist Worth Reading lists right here. Here are my choices for items most worth reading from March 2021:

1. Intersectional Environmentalism w/Leah Thomas

This episode of The Coolest Show features an interview with Leah Thomas, founder of Intersectional Environmentalism and Green Girls Co. Thomas discusses her experience as a rising environmentalist social media influencer and the intersection of capitalist realities with this work. Thomas also discusses way in which the environmental movement and environmental education has traditionally been dominated by white voices. Thomas is on a mission to make sure that children and adults learn about key Black figures in the history of environmentalism.

2. ‘One-in-100-years’ flood talk disastrously misleading and should change, risk experts say

In March, Premier Gladys Berejiklian described floods in Australia as one-in-50-year and one-in-100-year floods. Responding to the backlash to this language, this article by Ben Deacon explores the importance of semantics when it comes to discussing ‘natural’ disasters. Looking at the history of floods and speaking to experts on the subject, Deacon explores why this language is used and how it misleads the public and provides a false sense of security. Deacon also looks at the ways in which climate change has potentially affected the rate of flooding in Australia by increasing the frequency of extreme weather events.

3. Audubon at Sea

In this Hakai Magazine article, Richard J. King writes about John James Audubon’s lesser known time at sea. He writes that Audubon and his work was shaped considerably by the coasts and oceans that he traversed twelve times in his life. “Audubon’s art and observations about marine life and human life at sea remain rare and compelling accounts from the 19th century, useful for today’s environmental historians, ornithologists, literary scholars, and environmentalists,” King states. The only primary source that has survived from Audubon’s oceanic travels is his journal from his time on the Delos in 1826. King examines Audubon’s natural history observations on this ship, which go far beyond just birds, and critically assesses Audubon’s legacy, including his racism.

4. A Crocodile’s Gaze

In this short piece for AHA’s Perspectives, Danielle Alesi examines two writers, Val Plumwood (1985) and Jean de Léry (1578), treatment of the ‘crocodile gaze.’ Though writing centuries apart, “both writers fixate on the animal’s gaze and the barriers of culture and civilization it dismantles,” Alesi writes. Alesi adeptly demonstrates how human fear or wariness of crocodiles and our ecological relationship to these powerful predators effectively dismantles our sense of anthropocentric superiority. “How humbling it is to remember that, in the eyes of a crocodile, we are just another animal in their river,” Alesi concludes.

5. Missing Divers, Charles Manson, & the Rarest Fish in the World

Caitlin Doughty continues to periodically release especially entertaining and informative videos on environmental history topics. In this video, she examines the history of the Devils Hole pupfish, or ‘the rarest fish in the world,’ the cultural history of its habitat, and the (questionable?) lengths that we have gone to conserve this especially unique and fragile species.

Remember to follow the #envhist hashtag and NiCHE (@NiCHE_Canada) on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to keep up with the latest environmental history content.

Feature Image: “The Devil’s Hole Pupfish” by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
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is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States, editor, and digital communications strategist. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. She is an executive member, editor-in-chief, and social media editor for the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE). She is also a working board member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and Girls Rock Saskatoon. A passionate social justice advocate, she focuses on developing digital techniques and communications that bridge the divide between academia and the general public in order to democratize knowledge access. You can find out more about her and her freelance services at jessicamdewitt.com.

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