Book ID: CBB001212052

Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism (2013)

unapi

Hamblin, Jacob Darwin (Author)


Oxford University Press


Publication Date: 2013
Physical Details: x + 298 pp.
Language: English

When most Americans think of environmentalism, they think of the political left, of vegans dressed in organic-hemp fabric, lofting protest signs. In reality, writes Jacob Darwin Hamblin, the movement--and its dire predictions--owe more to the Pentagon than the counterculture. In Arming Mother Nature, Hamblin argues that military planning for World War III essentially created "catastrophic environmentalism": the idea that human activity might cause global natural disasters. This awareness, Hamblin shows, emerged out of dark ambitions, as governments poured funds into environmental science after World War II, searching for ways to harness natural processes--to kill millions of people. Proposals included the use of nuclear weapons to create artificial tsunamis or melt the ice caps to drown coastal cities; setting fire to vast expanses of vegetation; and changing local climates. Oxford botanists advised British generals on how to destroy enemy crops during the war in Malaya; American scientists attempted to alter the weather in Vietnam. This work raised questions that went beyond the goal of weaponizing nature. By the 1980s, the C.I.A. was studying the likely effects of global warming on Soviet harvests. "Perhaps one of the surprises of this book is not how little was known about environmental change, but rather how much," Hamblin writes. Driven initially by strategic imperatives, Cold War scientists learned to think globally and to grasp humanity's power to alter the environment. "We know how we can modify the ionosphere," nuclear physicist Edward Teller proudly stated. "We have already done it." Teller never repented. But many of the same individuals and institutions that helped the Pentagon later warned of global warming and other potential disasters. Brilliantly argued and deeply researched, Arming Mother Nature changes our understanding of the history of the Cold War and the birth of modern environmental science. Contents: Introduction: Total War and Catastrophic Environmentalism -- Part One. Pathways of Nature. The Natural Vulnerability of Civilizations -- Bacteria, Radiation, and Crop Destruction in War Planning -- Ecological Invasions and Convulsions -- Part Two. Forces of Nature. Earth Under Surveillance -- Acts of God and Acts of Man -- Wildcat Ideas for Environmental Warfare -- Part Three. Gatekeepers of Nature. The Doomsday Men -- Vietnam and the Seeds of Destruction -- The Terroristic Science of Environmental Modification -- Adjustment or Extinction -- Conclusion: The Miracle of Survival.

...More

Description On the military study of global catastrophic environmental change during the Cold War.


Reviewed By

Review Tucker, Richard P. (2015) Review of "Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism". Environmental History (pp. 152-154). unapi

Essay Review Brain, Stephen (2015) The Gloomy Side of Environmentalism [Review Essay Number 1552120]. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (pp. 340-347). unapi

Review Aronova, Elena (2015) Review of "Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 738-739). unapi

Citation URI
https://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB001212052/

Similar Citations

Book Finis Dunaway; (2015)
Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images (/isis/citation/CBB313032212/)

Article Bonnheim, Noah Byron; (2010)
History of Climate Engineering (/isis/citation/CBB001221293/)

Article Candis Callison; (2020)
The Twelve-Year Warning (/isis/citation/CBB783611694/)

Book Richard S. Newman; (2016)
Love Canal: A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present (/isis/citation/CBB272782783/)

Article Cabin, Robert J.; (2013)
Nature Is Dead. Long Live Nature! (/isis/citation/CBB001320839/)

Book Hempel, Leon; Bartels, Marie; Markwart, Thomas; (2013)
Aufbruch ins Unversicherbare: zum Katastrophendiskurs der Gegenwart (/isis/citation/CBB001212733/)

Book Laurel Sefton MacDowell; (2017)
Nuclear Portraits: Communities, the Environment, and Public Policy (/isis/citation/CBB174282852/)

Book Jeroen Oomen; (2021)
Imagining Climate Engineering: Dreaming of the Designer Climate (/isis/citation/CBB894445522/)

Article Rob Bellamy; (March 2015)
A Sociotechnical Framework for Governing Climate Engineering (/isis/citation/CBB453591963/)

Article Russell, Lynn M.; (Winter 2012)
Offsetting Climate Change by Engineering Air Pollution to Brighten Clouds (/isis/citation/CBB075664319/)

Article Marion Hourdequin; (2019)
Geoengineering Justice: The Role of Recognition (/isis/citation/CBB958061777/)

Article Thilo Wiertz; (May 2016)
Visions of Climate Control: Solar Radiation Management in Climate Simulations (/isis/citation/CBB285814777/)

Article Kintisch, Eli; (December 2012)
Overview of Climate Engineering (/isis/citation/CBB159642691/)

Article Meredith McKittrick; (2017)
Theories of “Reprecipitation” and Climate Change in the Settler Colonial World (/isis/citation/CBB459811663/)

Article White, Robert M; (Spring 2001)
Climate Systems Engineering (/isis/citation/CBB820034762/)

Book Yuriko Furuhata; (2022)
Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control (/isis/citation/CBB365768068/)

Article Timothy Cooper; Anna Green; (January 2017)
The "Torrey Canyon" Disaster, Everyday Life, and the “Greening” of Britain (/isis/citation/CBB626698990/)

Authors & Contributors
Bartels, Marie
Bonnheim, Noah Byron
Cabin, Robert J.
Cooper, Timothy
Dunaway, Finis
Hempel, Leon
Journals
The Bridge: Journal of the National Academy of Engineering
Science, Technology, and Human Values
American Scientist
Environmental History
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
History of Meteorology
Publishers
Duke University Press
Oxford University Press
Routledge
Transcript
University of Chicago Press
Emory University
Concepts
Climate change
Geoengineering; climate engineering
Disasters; catastrophes
Environmentalism
Climate and climatology
Earth sciences
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
19th century
20th century
17th century
20th century, early
Places
United States
Great Britain
Soviet Union
New York (U.S.)
Finland
Japan
Comments

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment