Press Release: Ritvo, The Dawn of Green

October 21, 2009
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Green jobs. Green technology. Green agriculture. Green energy. In the twenty-first century, green—and the environmental consciousness that’s associated with it—is good. But where did the green revolution, and the modern environmental movement, get started? Historian Harriet Ritvo has traced it origins to an unlikely place—a bucolic reservoir in the English Lake District. To look at it today, with its placid sheen, surrounding evergreens, and apparent lack of pollution or development, Thirlmere hardly looks like the site of a revolution. But under its calm surface lurks the enduring legacy of a nineteenth-century conflict that pitted industrial progress against natural conservation—and helped launch the environmental movement as we know it.
Purchased by the city of Manchester in the 1870s, Thirlmere was dammed and converted into a reservoir, its water piped a hundred miles south to the burgeoning industrial city and its workforce. This feat of civil engineering—and of natural resource diversion—inspired one of the first environmental struggles of modern times. The Dawn of Green re-creates the battle for Thirlmere and the clashes between conservationists who wished to preserve the lake and developers eager to supply the needs of industry and a growing urban population. Bringing to vivid life the colorful and strong-minded characters who populated both sides of the debate, Ritvo shows how lessons learned in the Lake District can inform and guide modern environmental and conservation campaigns.
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