The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis


The article by Lynn White goes to great depth to speak on the historical roots of the crisis that has befallen the ecological construct of man. This article has been an eye opener, and it is fair to state that humankind is at the center of it all. Humankind is an essential aspect of matters to do with the environment and its elements such as environmental crisis, conservation, conflict, preservation, and others. This article has been able to act as a focal point and an eye-opener for many ecologists due to the facts that have been stated by White and how elements of our ecology have continued to deteriorate since the beginning of time. It is tough to separate man from the destruction of the environment and the various imbalances that have occurred in recent centuries.

However, this will seem to continue even more since the level of technology has been seen to increase and there appears to be something new being invented. In spite of all this, the current crop of human beings are beginning to be more environmentally conscious, and they are aware of what is happening to the ecology of the earth than in recent years. It has become a global crisis.

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Historical Background

In this article White has been able to state vital points on the historical background of ecological crisis. The harsh reality of these environmental issues has become more significant to the world population and the environmental change that has continued to affect the community (Curry, 2011). However, some points need to be addressed in this article such as the early inventions of man that seemed to disturb the ecology of the earth. The evolution of agriculture and industry could not have been avoided, and this is due to the demand for food and commodities by the ever-growing population (Clowney, 2009, p5). It is true that most of these problems that have been ecological-based are purely human-made and any attempt to reverse these issues is becoming more complicated. 

The introduction of green energy and other alternative sources of energy are now being integrated into the solutions for environmental effects (Clowney, 2009, p5). According to White, even the use of wind energy affects the ecology of the earth, and this is true (White, 1978). However, at this point, there is no other alternative because the damage has already been done and therefore a cure has to be sought after by humankind. The only issue is that most of these alternative sources are also expensive and people would rather stick to the conventional sources of energy such as coal, oil, and firewood (Curry, 2011).

The imbalance in the earth’s ecology has mostly been felt in the coastal regions where some species are in danger of being extinct. Since the industrial revolution, there have been some environmental issues that have seem to come up (Mathis, 1996). These issues were not thought of before the uprising began to take place.

There seems to have been a gap between the effects of some of these actions and the people who wanted to benefit from the activities. It is now left to the future generations to pay for the sins of their forefathers (Mathis, 1996). It is Also true to say that when these developments were occurring, no adequate education would have been laid out to some of these civilizations such as the Romans who were busy with their wars of conquests (White, 1978). These studies and research were borne out of the fact that things were beginning to change and there needed to be specific explanations. 

The urgency of addressing these ecological issues was dire to the human population, and in getting scientific facts and proof to explain the changes, the information was disseminated to the society. Creating awareness has become an integral part of ensuring that humankind can address environmental issues (Clowney, 2009, p14). From White’s article there has been significant groundwork that has been laid down to enable the respective experts to try and expound further on the issues that have been continuing to occur (Clowney, 2009, p17). Unlike in the past, experts and scholars can predict more accurately on the events that are likely to happen.

Due to the time this article was written there have been specific issues that have been left out by White. The effect of knowledge about the environment was not something that was held in high esteem during the early days (Mathis, 1996). The worth of individual animals and species in the ecology was not sought after, and this is due to the abundance of these species. Therefore some of these species were being eliminated most cheaply that the farmers and those affected possibly could afford such as the Rabbits that fed on the crops (Curry, 2011).

This is where the conflict lies, the rabbits were domesticated and brought to the country to give something to the ecological construct which was to add more protein into the peasantry (White, 1978). This was necessary at the time, but this soon changed. Once the ecological system was able to rectify this problem the rabbit became less critical and with the abundance of food the population inevitably grew. It is also such fact to state that the farmers that were previously there brought in the rabbits to modify the ecology (White, 1978). After these farmers were gone and a new crop of farmers came up there were no records or information that was handed down to the new generation to enable them to protect these animals.

The new wave of farmers would have decided to domesticate the rabbits and probably use them as an alternative source of food (Clowney, 2009, p21). Despite the various highlights that have been laid out in this article, there continues to be a debate on whether these issues could have been dealt with more elaborately. However, the problems to deal with the historic nature of the crisis can only be stated because that time has already past (Clowney, 2009, p21). The only thing that can be done is to try and gain information from the past that can be able to inform future research.


White has created a platform upon which researchers, scholars, and ecologists can be able to gain knowledge and come up with solutions to these issues. The most important thing is to give the population insight into some of these issues which could be vital for their existence and the existence of their future generations. 

Works Cited

Clowney, D. and Mosto, P. Earthcare: An Anthology in Environmental Ethics. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Incorporated. 2009 

Curry, Patrick. Ecological ethics: An introduction. Cambridge, UK: Polity. 2011

Wackernagel, Mathis. Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth. Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers, 1996.

White, Lynn T. Medieval Religion and Technology: Collected Essays. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

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