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Environmental Lessons From History.

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ENVIRONMENTAL LESSONS FROM HISTORY. This report was compiled by: * Peter Chandler. * Chris Nisbet. * Alex Raffan. Environmental Protection and Management, Year 1. Table of contents. Page no. 1. Introduction. 3 2. Literature Reviews. 2-1. Rapa Nui. 4-9 2-3. Scotland. 10-20 2-2. The Mayan civilisation. 21-29 3. Survey. 3-1 Methodology. 31 3-2 Results. 31-33 4. Discussion on survey. 33-34 5. Conclusion. 34-35 6. References. 36-37 7. Reflection. a) C.Nisbet. 38 Introduction. The environment in which we live today has been subject to mans influences ever since he evolved. The question is have any lessons been learned during this journey through the ages. The examples discussed here show how populations from different areas have been affected detrimentally both with and without outside influence. All have been subjected to varying degrees of human tragedy and shows clearly how man has been unable to alter the roller coaster ride of progress so as to benefit him. Hopefully in this modern world people will start to understand the ethos of some of the more environmentally aware nations and follow their lead. If not, one day the point of no return will be reached and history will record that the people of the 21st century failed to prepare its populations for future sustainability. The choice of the topic 'Environmental lessons from history' was an attempt to study as broad banded a subject as possible with the hope of finding a general link between the facts uncovered. I t was further decided that the selection of individual topics to research should be as unfamiliar as possible to us to avoid preconceived conclusions. This took each author on a voyage of discovery to seemingly unconnected geographical areas and their historical backgrounds. Intermediate communication between the group members led to a network of ideas and general conclusions being formed. It was soon apparent that the particular subjects that we had chosen to study had strong links with each other and moreover parallels with current day affairs of the world. ...read more.


As MacDonald (1990) writes the threat of 'Cuiridh mi as an fhearann thu', 'I shall evict you' was constantly with the Gaels throughout this period. Sutherland was not the only area subjected to 'aggressive' Clearances. Stories emanate from all over the Highlands many of them still held in folklore today. Even the Isles did not escape. MacDonald (1990) gives an example of what the conditions were like on the Isle of Lewis in a letter by a Mr Craig writing to a Mr Stewart MacKenzie in 1828: 'Until I saw the actual conditions of the new lottars in the Aird of Tong, I had no idea of the great hardship and privation that the poor people endure that are forced into new allotments, without matters previously being arranged for their moving. Their conditions are worse than anything that I saw in Donegal, where I always considered that human wretchedness to have reached its very acme'. Why the Highland people didn't rise up is probably due to a number of reasons. They are as described by Johnstone (1998) firstly that the Highlanders were forbidden to own weapons and they also remembered the cruelty of the soldiers after the '45. Secondly for a deeply religious people the Church failed to support them. Most of the ministers were appointed by the landowners so they did and said as the landowners wanted. A result of this was the appearance of the 'Free Church of Scotland'. Thirdly many of the men and chiefs from the clans had either been killed or were fighting with the regiments in France. Major-General James Wolfe wrote of the Highlander as a fighting man: 'They are a hardy, intrepid, accustomed to rough country and no great mischief if they fall. How can you better employ a secret enemy than by making his end more conducive to the common good'? From Wolfe's letter to his friend, William Rickson' in Johnstone (1998). Eventually cheap wool imports in the 1850's caused landowners to set up sporting estates. ...read more.


In the Scottish Highlands the indigenous crofters raison d'�tre had been altered dramatically to serve a purpose in no way conducive to their own well being. Their long-term future had been taken out of their hands and the will to carry on as before seemed meaningless. There is no doubt that the clearances would have taken place at some stage in history, as the same process was happening in mainland Europe at the time. But the speed at which they occurred was a testament to man's need to accumulate profit by whatever means. Progress, money and profit unfortunately still remain foremost in human society to this day. The St.Kildans were eventually removed from the Islands by man's need to help others less fortunate than themselves and the strong organising principle called development. Religion also played an important part in what can only be described as a plot of true tragedy. Similarly the Mayans had followed a course which appeared detrimental to the benefit of their society for further generations. Slash and burn techniques without planning for regeneration of the land had taken its toll. People had come to the realisation that the bloodletting indoctrination by their priests and leaders was not working and again a general apathy had set in. In the case of the Easter Islanders the isolation of their location had given them an unrealistic sense of what to do for the best. When at last they discovered their mistakes it was too late, but without any alternatives they descended into a state of complete lethargy. In fact theirs was possibly the most complete environmental disaster in the history of mans activities so far. All the populations followed directions, which didn't work. Once a general malaise had set in, an ever-downward spiralling corkscrew effect ensued. What were unquestioned traits and customs before suddenly became doomed ways of life. A parallel between these ancient practices and how many members of society regard the advancement of the industrial revolution, nowadays, appears clearer. It will always remain important to draw on the lessons learnt from history and realise the implications for the modern world. ...read more.

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