Tag Archives: Environmental History

UW Press News, Reviews, and Events

NEWS

Weyerhaeuser-BookThe Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books catalog celebrates the first sixty titles published in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series under founding editor William Cronon’s direction. Authors published into the series express their gratitude for Cronon’s visionary editorial guidance and for the generosity of Jack and Jan Creighton, who have supported the series since its inception over twenty years ago. Browse the catalog and you’ll begin to get a sense of how the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series has shaped the discipline as well as popular understandings of environmental history. For more on William Cronon’s recent retirement as series editor, see our post Editorial Changes to Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books Series.

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Bedbugs: The Social and Environmental History of an Urban Pest

In today’s post, Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats author Dawn Day Biehler examines the historical roots of bedbug outbreaks and how social inequality continues to exacerbate the problem for many city dwellers. Biehler also explains how American domestic practices have altered the genetic makeup of bedbugs, making them even more tenacious pests than the ones previous generations had to deal with. Finally, she argues for the need to view domestic spaces as both natural and social in order to get to the root of the bedbug problem.

In May of 1999, the New York Times column, “For Your Information,” included a letter from a reader who recalled visits from bedbugs—in spite of his mother’s bedtime blessings—during his Depression-era childhood. Having gone decades without suffering a bite, the reader inquired, “Has this lowly bug been completely chased from the city?”[1]

The reader’s timing was eerie. That year, Louis Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History noted that his office had “received more bedbug specimens for identification in the past three years than in the previous 20.” Soon, discreet transactions with entomologists and pest management professionals could no longer contain the growing, tenacious multitude of bugs. Within months, tenants and landlords, hoteliers and cab drivers, retailers and office managers across the United States confessed to their struggles with this tiny bloodsucker.

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Science, Whaling, and International Conservation

In his new book, Whales and Nations: Environmental Diplomacy on the High Seas, Kurkpatrick Dorsey details international efforts to create a regulatory framework that would support a sustainable whaling industry. Although those efforts ultimately failed, Dorsey illuminates the implications and lessons learned from that failure for current international conservation and sustainability efforts. In this guest post, Dorsey draws parallels between the lack of scientific consensus in debates about climate change and the international whaling industry.

I suppose that if I were a newspaper editor, I would be thankful for climate change, whether or not I owned beachfront property. For the last few weeks, a lively debate on the subject has been running in my local paper, Foster’s Daily Democrat in Dover, New Hampshire. Climate change has been the subject of syndicated columns, letters to the editor, and even editorial cartoons. Most interesting was a debate between two area men with claims to expertise, which has been evolving through community commentary to letters to the editor to a head-to-head pairing of articles, followed by more letters. The most fascinating debating point was whether or not a consensus actually exists among climate scientists that people are contributing to changing the earth’s climate. In other words, is the scientific community really that certain about climate change?

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