Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism

Hardcover | June 12, 2013

byJacob Darwin Hamblin

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Famines. Diseases. Natural catastrophes. In 1945, scientists imagined these as the future faces of war. The United States and its allies prepared for a global struggle against the Soviet Union by using science to extend "total war" ideas to the natural environment. Biological andradiological weapons, crop destruction, massive fires, artificial earthquakes and tsunamis, ocean current manipulation, sea level tinkering, weather control, and even climate change - all these became avenues of research at the height of the Cold War. By the 1960s, a new phrase had emerged:environmental warfare. The same science - in fact, many of the same people - also led the way in understanding the earth's vulnerability during the environmental crisis of the 1970s. The first reports on human-induced climate change came from scientists who had advised NATO about how to protect the western allies fromSoviet attack. Leading ecologists at Oxford also had helped Britain wage a war against crops in Malaya - and the Americans followed suit in Vietnam. The first predictions of environmental doomsday in the early 1970s came from the intellectual pioneers of global conflict resolution, and some haddesigned America's missile defense systems. President Nixon's advisors on environmental quality had learned how to think globally by imagining Mother Nature as an armed combatant. Knowledge of environmental threats followed from military preparations throughout the Cold War, from nuclear winter to the AIDS epidemic. How much of our catastrophic thinking about today's environmental crises do we owe to the plans for World War Three?

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Famines. Diseases. Natural catastrophes. In 1945, scientists imagined these as the future faces of war. The United States and its allies prepared for a global struggle against the Soviet Union by using science to extend "total war" ideas to the natural environment. Biological andradiological weapons, crop destruction, massive fires,...

Jacob Darwin Hamblin is Associate Professor of History at Oregon State University. He is author of Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age (Rutgers University Press, 2008), Oceanographers and the Cold War: Disciples of Marine Science (University of Washington Press, 2005), and Science in the E...

other books by Jacob Darwin Hamblin

Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:June 12, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199740054

ISBN - 13:9780199740055

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Total War and Catastrophic EnvironmentalismPart I Pathways of Nature1. War as a Clash of Civilizations2. Bacteria, Radiation, and Crop Destruction in War Plans3. Ecological Invasions and ConvulsionsPart II Forces of Nature4. Earth Under Surveillance5. Acts of God and Acts of Man6. Wildcat Ideas for Environmental WarfarePart III Gatekeepers of Nature7. The Doomsday Men8. Vietnam and the Seeds of Destruction9. The Terroristic Science of Environmental Modification10. Adjustment or ExtinctionConclusion The Miracle of SurvivalNotesIndex