Sunday, November 30, 2008

Natural Disasters - Environmental History podcast review

As much as Jan Oosthoek's Environmental History Podcast is first of all a history podcast, the focus on environment invites other disciplines, or, the lessons the history teaches, affects other disciplines. This is not always ecology or geology, as we found out in the last two issues of the podcast.

The question what exactly is environmental history, will be treated in the podcast however has been postponed until the next show, but we can at least take the last two shows and take their common denominator (natural disasters) and see what was done with that. The twentieth show about floods in Northumbria (mp3) takes this ecology and geology route. The history of floods in the Tyne basin, show us that the recent floods are of a bigger magnitude than the floods that were had in the past centuries. In addition to issues of climate change, this teaches us how human activity has affected the geological features of the area.

The twenty-first show about cultures coping with natural disasters (mp3) regularly, on the other hand, takes us into economics and anthropology. The country of the Philippines, for example, is naturally disaster prone on account of both meteoric and seismic conditions. The country doesn't have the economic capacity to put into place the kind of disaster coping systems rich countries have and so there is a reality that disasters happen, all the time. Consequently there is a different culture of coping with disasters. A wisdom is to be found in the approach that rather tries to live with hazards rather than avoid them at all costs.

We are looking forward to the next shows, when the definition of Environmental History is going to be tackled.

Image credit: public domain, United States Geological Survey

More Environmental History:
Canada and New Zealand
Environmental history,
Climate Change in recent history,
Urban Air Pollution,
Apartheid and Environmental History.

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