British historian Clive Ponting did a fantastic amount of research, and . Ponting, Clive, A New Green History of the World: The Environment. Like Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, Clive Ponting’s book studies the relationship between the environment and human history. A Green History of the World. The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations. by Clive Ponting. pages, paperback, Penguin, A Green History.

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A Green History addresses the influence of the environment on human history over the past 10, years, starting with the expansion of hunting and gathering groups, and the transition to settled agriculture.

Ponting describes how exhaustion of the resources to which they had access doomed many human societies. Ponting begins with the history of human settlement on Easter Island.

A New Green History Of The World : Clive Ponting :

This history serves as a cautionary example of the inability of a human society to stop destroying its natural resources even when it is obvious that continued resource destruction will doom future generations to hietory on a barren island with no possibility of escape. Our global society is now embarked on an incomparably massive resource extraction.

Will we transcend the barriers that previous societies did not? Ponting does not propose solutions. He provides a wealth of illuminating and extremely sobering historical detail. After all it was small enough for them to walk round the entire island in a day or so and see for themselves what was happening to the forests. Yet they were unable to devise a system that allowed them to find the right balance with their environment.

Instead vital resources were steadily consumed until finally none were left. Indeed, at the very time when the limitations of the island must have become starkly apparent, the competition between the clans for the available timber seems to have intensified as more and more statues were carved and moved across the island in an attempt to secure prestige and status.

The fact that so many were left unfinished or stranded near the quarry suggests that no account was taken of how few trees were left on the island. About BC roughly equal amounts of pontingg and barley were grown in southern Mesopotamia.


But wheat can only tolerate a salt level of half a pontong cent in the soil whereas barley can still grow in twice this amount.

What Is Sustainable: A New Green History of the World

The increasing salinisation of the soil can be deduced from the declining amount of wheat cultivated and its replacement by the more salt tolerant barley. By BC wheat had fallen to only 15 per cent of the crop; by Ur had abandoned wheat production and overall it had declined to just 2 percent of the crops grown in the Sumerian region.

By the cities of Isin and Larsa no longer hitsory wheat and by BC salt levels in the soil throughout the whole of southern Mesopotamia were so high that no wheat at all was grown.

The independent city states survived until BC when the first external conqueror of the region– Sargon of Agade–established the Akkadian empire. That conquest is contemporary with the first serious decline in crop yields following widespread salinisation.

A New Green History of the World : The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations

For the next six hundred years the region saw the Akkadian empire conquered by the Guti nomads from the Zagros mountains, a brief revival of the region under the Third Dynasty of Ur between BC, its collapse under pressure from the Elamites in the west and Amorites in the east, and about BC the conquest of the area by the Babylonian kingdom centered on northern Mesopotamia. Throughout this period, from the end of the once flourishing and powerful city states clice the Babylonian conquest, crop yields continued to fall making it very difficult to sustain a visible state.

By BC, when yields were only about a or of the level obtained during the Early Dynastic period, the agricultural base of Sumer had effectively collapsed and the focus of Mesopotamian society shifted permanently to the north, where a succession of imperial states controlled the region, and Sumer declined into insignificance as an underpopulated, impoverished backwater of empire.


This was extended in so that churchwardens were authorized to pay for the corpses of foxes, polecats, weasels, stoats, otters, hedgehogs, rats, mice, moles, hawks, buzzards, ospreys, jays, ravens and kingfishers. In every area of England large hunts were carried out to try to exterminate various animals. In at Prestbury in Cheshire 5, moles were destroyed, at Northill in Bedfordshire between and14, sparrows were killed and 3, eggs destroyed and at Deeping St.

James in Lincolnshire in4, sparrows were killed. On one estate in the Scottish county of Sutherland in the early nineteenth century, kingfishers were killed in just three years. In the same county on just two estates adult and sixty young golden eagles plus an unknown number of eggs were destroyed between in an attempt to preserve fish and game for sport.

The deliberate slaughter continued into the twentieth century–during the First World War the British government ordered the destruction of sparrows in order to try and increase crop yields and special clubs were set up to carry out the task. Their success can be judged from the fact that the one at Tring in Herfordshire killed 39, in three years. A Green History of the World The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations by Clive Ponting pages, paperback, Penguin, A Green History addresses the influence of the environment on human history over the past 10, years, starting with the expansion of hunting and gathering groups, and the transition to settled agriculture.

Ponting substantially revised the book in We prefer the original book. Quotes from A Green History of the World Edition “The Easter Islanders, aware that they were almost completely isolated from the rest of the world, must surely have realised that their very existence depended on the limited resources of a small island.