Land and Sea: The Environment

T. C. Smout

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199563692
Published online November 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191750687 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Land and Sea: The Environment

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Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century topographers spoke of the Scottish environment as though it were a given, a gift from a good, but often incomprehensible, God. The food of all life on earth rests ultimately on photosynthesis, the process by which vegetable growth is able to capture solar energy. Compared to other parts of the British Isles, Scotland suffered from two interlinked disadvantages in garnering photosynthetic energy. The first was altitude and slope, and the second was climate. The most critical developments in the environmental history of Scotland after 1750 related to energy supply. Two forces were at work: a change in the availability of food energy and a revolution in the application of thermal energy. Since 1950, there have been changes in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries; advances in pollution control; and the rise of an environmental movement. What happens on land is always better studied than what happens invisibly below the surface of the sea. Marine fisheries provide the example of the most profligate of all resource exploitations, not only in Scotland but throughout the globe.

Keywords: Scotland; land; sea; environment; pollution; climate; solar energy; energy supply; food energy; fisheries

Article.  10850 words. 

Subjects: Environmental History

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