Many branches of science have addressed themselves to the study of different aspects of the earth’s physical and organic environments, and the relationships between these branches have changed through time. Geologists have studied the earth’s structure and the forces that have shaped it; oceanographers and meteorologists have explored other elements of the physical environment. Naturalists have classified the vast number of living species and have tried to understand the relationships between them. New conceptual perspectives, including the theory of evolution, have transformed our understanding of the natural world, often provoking intense controversy. Latterly, new scientific disciplines such as ecology have been.created as the study of the natural world became more specialized. While some scientists saw themselves as conquering nature, others hoped to uncover a harmonious pattern of creation.
The Fontana History of the Environmental Sciences is the first comprehensive survey of all these developments. It outlines the emergence of the whole range of modern environmental sciences, and weighs and measures the social and cultural forces which have shaped our attitude towards the environment. In the modern world, most people are aware of the threat to that environment. Some see science and technology as part of that threat; others hope to use science to define and overcome the dangers. An informed debate requires a knowledge of the historica) background to the current state of the environmental sciences, and that is precisely what this book seeks to provide.
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