In the Environmental History Podcast a second interview was produced that addressed the question of how to define the field of environmental history. Host Jan Oosthoek spoke with Paul Warde (mp3) about this.
Warde opposes environmental history to main stream history in such that regular history is more busy with culture and society, that is the humanly constructed world. Environmental history on the other hand is engaged with the physical world. That this implies influence from a wide variety of other disciplines, could be a strength in his eyes. As long is the broad field is not going to bland itself down by sticking to some common denominator.
In his eyes, the variety of methods, data and scientific perspectives have a moral task and this sort of suggests there IS a common denominator. This would be the environmentalist concern. In this sense Warde holds a view different from previous guest, Donald Worster, who wishes to see the field detached from the political agenda, even if the practitioners subscribe to that. I wonder whether the blanding effect Warde sees in a common denominator, may also be at work in a field of environmental history that would represent a branch of social activism.
NB: In the mean time I have found out that Donald Worster was also interviewed on New Books In History. I am listening to that podcast right now and will embody my thoughts in the upcoming combined review of NBIH episodes.
More Environmental History:
Defining Environmental History - Donald Worster,
Canada and New Zealand,
Climate Change in recent history.