History and Philosophy of Science, Reviews

Science magazine on The Dawn of Green

jacket imageEnvironmental conservation and sustainable development are hallmarks of the modern green movement. But few people realize these concepts have been around for centuries. In fact, according to historian Harriet Ritvo, the environmental movement as we know it can be traced back to an unlikely place at an unlikely time: a bucolic reservoir in Victorian Britian.
This week’s Science magazine reviews The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism, which “chronicles water-starved, late-19th-century Manchester’s determination to convert tiny Thirlmere … into the world’s largest reservoir.” Ritvo’s history brings to vivid life the colorful and strong-minded characters who populated both sides of the debate, revisiting notions of the natural promulgated by Romantic poets, recreationists, resource managers, and industrial developers to establish Thirlmere as the template for subsequent—and continuing—environmental struggles.
Deemed “a penetrating microstudy that mixes environmental, scientific, urban, and political history” by Science, The Dawn of Green investigates Victorian ideas about industry, development, and technology to shows how the lessons learned in the Lake District can inform and guide modern environmental and conservation campaigns.