Changing the Face of the Earth
Culture, Environment, History
This is a history of the human impact upon the natural environment of the Earth. It is a compelling story, the result of many years of original research and scholarship and drawn from work in a wide range of natural and humane disciplines. It covers every kind of culture and society, ranges in time from the earliest social groupings to the present, and considers the short and long-term consequences of current trends. A key argument of the book, and one that informs its structure, is that access to energy is a crucial influence on the way in which we have used and exploited our natural surroundings. If environmental impacts of the discovery of fire were substantial, and of agriculture dramatic, the effects of industrial and technological change over the last two centuries have been revolutionary. Exponential growth in the use of fossil fuels and of the human population mean that our own activities now constitute a critical variable in environmental change. The recent history of the interaction between human kind and nature has become different from the past not only in degree but in kind: and there is a mismatch between our ability to affect and to control the natural environment.
These issues form the concluding theme of this book. `Changing the Face of the Earth' is appropriately illustrated with photographs, maps and diagrams, and contains a full annotated bibliography and an index.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"This is a veritable tour-de-force; it covers an astonishing range of material, is superbly referenced [and] . . . It traces the human impact through time in a way that has never previously been achieved." Andrew Goudie, University of Oxford. "This is scholarship of a high order. The book should become the classic text for geographers and interested members of the public who want to know more about the tortuous relationship between human tenure, economy and the natural world." Timothy O'Riordan, Times Higher Education Supplement "This is an excellent book that I have very much enjoyed reading and found very stimulating. It is a wonderful piece of geography in the best sense. It is the sort of stuff that ought to fire up young minds and get people really interested in the changes in the environment around them and the human response to those changes. I shall certainly recommend the students taking my second year course, "Environment, Resources and Sutainable Development," to use the book and will also find it very helpful for third year students who are preparing for the general paper for their Final Examinations." Ian Douglas, Head of Geography Dept., University of Manchester. "It deserves to be very widely read and I hope will, Heineken-like, reach audiences that other books by geographers on this theme have yet to reach." Peter Haggett, Professor of Urban and Regional Geography, University of Bristol. "There is no shortage of books that cry out about the problems of our age, but they vary considerably in their approach. Easily top of the pile is Ian Simmon's Changing Face of the Earth." New Scientist "The reviewer has no criticism of theis excellent and stimlating book which ought to be of use as a source book for teaching, a text book or simply an inspiring read, for those not only in Geography but in a range of related disciplines." Geography "This is a fascinating, very readable and superb book, which should be required reading for all students who have the slightest interest in the environment and biogeography. Professor Simmons is to be congratulated on his efforts." Martin Kent, Applied Geography "Throughout the volume there is extensive use of clear, if often complex, diagrams of energy flows and ecosystem linkages, supported by tables of relative data sets which provide the supportive evidence for the clear flow of the text. The volume is a worthy single-author successor to the earlier multiple-author study which inspired it. To chart the human impacts over the globe for so long a period with such care and insight required a navigational skill of which the first professor of geography at University College London, Captain Alexander Maconochie, would have been proud." Australian Geographer