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What is Environmental History?

At times environmental history may seem to be little more than the history of environmentalism. Whilst this is an important part of the subject, it is not the whole story. An extension of this approach is the history of environmental problems, such as water pollution,  both in terms of the physical conditions and the policies that were adopted.

Equally it can be the use of historical data to address what are currently defined as environmental problems. The history of climate change, the effects of air pollution and land contamination are clear examples.

It also embraces the history of past environments which can include climate history, and also elements that can be seen as ecological history, or as landscape history.

Above all however, it is the over arching history of the interaction of humanity and the rest of the natural world. This includes the exploitation of resources, the physical constraints placed on that process and the assumptions and attitudes that people have held towards the rest of the world while exploiting it.