World Environmental History

David Christian

in The Oxford Handbook of World History

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199235810
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

World Environmental History


How can one best manage the unpredictable and rapidly evolving relationship between human beings and the biosphere? This question provides one of the great research agendas for the early twenty-first century. It is no longer enough to track human environmental impacts at the local or national level, a task taken up within the flourishing field of environmental history. This article explores how each thread in this complex story is woven throughout human history and how it covers the entire world. At its most ambitious, the new scholarly field of world environmental history aims at a comprehensive historical understanding of the complex and unstable patchwork of relations between humans and the biosphere. The discussion argues that current environmental issues have their roots in the very nature of the human species and history. The article also describes the Paleolithic era, the agrarian era, and the modern era.

Keywords: environmental history; biosphere; Paleolithic era; world history; historical understanding; agrarian era

Article.  8269 words. 

Subjects: History ; Environmental History

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