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The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World
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Becky Norman | 805 comments Mod
Please add your comments about The Invention of Nature here.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Wow, he ran around with Goethe who was a bit of an over the top play boy. Ive gotten about 10% in and have read about his growing up. He had a much different childhood than day Gerald Durrell.


Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Hi Sarah:
I hope to begin in the next day or so. I will be listening. I am curious what compelled you to vote for this book, and do you have any interest in Goethe?

Anyone else reading this book or who knows they will definitely join the discussion ?

Thanks, Sher


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments I have an interest in classics and want to read Goethe’s Faust. I became interested in the book when it talked about his changing the way people saw nature. He redefined it and made the realization that cutting down trees destroyed eco systems and made a noticeable difference. Here is an example of man made climate change that was discovered way before I imagined it would by 100+ years. I makes me wonder why people/companies don’t replant where they have deforested so that they could have more trees to use in the future. It’s fascinating stuff. The man had an incredibly adventurous life that I am amazed at from what I’ve read so far and I’m a bit jealous!


Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Sounds great! I actually am interested in Goethe because of his influence on the American Transcendentalists: Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bronson Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. :)

Back soon.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments I know little about Goethe but want to know more! Faust is one of the most famous stories going and I want to read it. Shame I cannot do so in the original German as my language skills are terrible. I have a negligible smattering if French and that is diminishing daily.
I have just started reading the transcendentalists, and become addicted to Thoreau. What little I read of Emerson was a tad difficult with ADD, but I will try another work of his and see how it goes.


message 7: by Story (new)

Story (storyheart) I've also just downloaded it and hope to start in a week or so.


Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Wonderful. It looks like we will have a nice group to discuss this book. I am downloading it now-- Sher


Navi (nvsahota) I have my copy and will be reading this within the next week or so!


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Yea! So many people are going to be reading this! I’m quite excited! I shall do more reading today and I’m really looking forward to what everyone finds interesting about it. I have certainly enjoyed talking about it with Sher so far!


Louise Garnier | 2 comments I really love this book! I’m excited to discuss this book.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments I downloaded it from Audible.com but I think I want a print copy so that I can underline it. Plus somethings are good for reading and others for listening to and I think this might be the former category in order to really absorb the information. Maybe it’s just the way I process info, anyone else feel that way?


message 13: by Sher (last edited Jun 06, 2018 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Sarah-- I am listening and enjoying the book. I'm able to listen to some pretty heady intellectual reads and do okay, but I've been doing this for years. But sometimes a book will strongly strike me as something that needs to be read instead of listened to. Especially when I want to pull out quotes.. But, for me reading the hard copy takes substantially longer, so...

It's fitting or perhaps symbolic that the book opens with an ascent up a 21, 000 foot mountain. I'm already getting the sense from the first chapter how incredibly driven and passionate Humboldt was. So different from his mother. She is depicted as quite the cold fish.

Do you know of E. O. Wilson - the ant specialist? He's written books and articles about biodiversity, and I thought of Wilson when reading about Humboldt's contribution to our understanding of the natural world.

But, I must say -- or I should ask you - what do you think about the fact Humboldt was predicting global warming/climate change in the early 19th C, and indeed it has happened, and warnings have not been heeded. I'm also reading this massive biography Alexander Hamilton, and I'm seeing humans don't seem to change much. For example the divisive politics we might think it particular to this time was actually happening with just as much vigor in President Washington's cabinet! Sigh.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Sher,

All I can think is that man will let greed keep him from repeatedly learning his lessons because he doesn’t prioritize anything long term.
I was fascinated by the concept in Humbolt’s time (and continues to this day) of Man thinking that Nature needed/needs to be ordered. That’s quite a lot of cheek on our part! In doing so, he shortsightedly robs himself of a healthier future. He doesn’t allow nutrients to be re-fed back into the soil by not letting leaves decay for example, and I think about the weed killer that is put on lawns that leeches into our ground water and it’s enough to keep a body up at night. There is little more hearty than a weed and something that kills it can’t be good for the rest of us. No matter what they say on the bottle.
Mankind often strikes me as a child with a box of non-safety matches. I hope we survive our learning curve.

I guess that is why Humbolt strikes me as such an interesting character. He was able to see the big picture and had foresight about what actions we take in nature. He started with mining and made realizations and improvements there. We need more Humbolts! Sadly as long as we have share holders we will chose profit gain over long term benefits. I am not agains capitalism at all, but I am against making short sighted decisions solely for short term profit.

My I sound a bit grim!


message 15: by Amy (last edited Jun 07, 2018 12:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 1 comments While the first section on Humbolt's life was interesting, I think I took more from the latter section, the one on the people who built thier careers, economic philosophies, and social movements on the foundation that Humbolt provided. Learning about how he helped other famous figures (like Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, and John Muir) to their own heights was fascinating and I very much appreciated not only being able to learn about someone new, but also more about individuals who were known to me. This was a wonderful book and a great pick for Book of the Month.


message 16: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Nice to see so many of you participating!

I am so enjoying reading about Humboldt's time with Goethe, because I have long wanted to read a bio on Goethe as he's had a tremendous influence on 19th C American intellectuals i.e. Transcendentalism. By the time we see Goethe here - he has become physically the hedonist he morally was. The huge stomach and double chin -- I mean.

Humboldt --"Behind Variety is Unity." This quote strikes me as being very Eastern in stye. Was Goethe influenced by Eastern thinking? I don't know. Was Humboldt? The idea that the One is present in the many -- the wave is the ocean = Hinduism.

Anyway- just came to mind.

Also of interest was Goethe 's idea that the plant was all leaf - that leaf is what became the rest of the plant, and so the leaf philosophically was the plant. This reminds me a fractals. That instead of things being distinct unique and separate things - like a plant are really repeated patterns. This will lead to Humboldt's theory of life as a web.

Humboldt -- "Comparison became his fundamental means of studying nature " versus looking at nature through mathematics and theory. This is very interesting, because today - we are so hard science leaning in our study of nature. I can't help but remark on the wonderful creative and innovative ideas that came from Humboldt and Goethe, and others of their time. It was an age of discovery through creative thought. I wonder who are our ultra creative scientific thinkers today? We have so much structure now that scientists , seemingly, must begin with. Maybe some of you can comment? I don't read a lot of science, so I am just expressing what I feel is so.

And, finally -- the section on electro magnetism. What a kick-- Humboldt was really fascinated with this field, as were others --think Mary Shelley and Frankenstein


message 17: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "Sher,

All I can think is that man will let greed keep him from repeatedly learning his lessons because he doesn’t prioritize anything long term.
I was fascinated by the concept in Humbolt’s time..."


Sarah:
Thanks for tackling my hard question. I am familiar in the Western Christian tradition ideas that have helped humankind to believe the earth is for us to do what we like with it - to dominate and manage, to use, so we can survive and flourish . Later, progressive thinkers might call it stewardship, but we know stewardship is not widespread enough.

I read a book this past year called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind that was provocative as H and unsettling, but it addresses much of what we are talking about here as far as why we keep seeing repetition in history.

It's hard for mainstream Christians to consider humankind COULD go extinct. After all God would not allow this. I was at lunch with a colleague last month, and this is his view. Because of his God centered view extinction or the loss of this planet is impossible. With that position, there may not be much motivation to seriously consider the plight of our environment. I was struck by how absolutely certain he was.


message 18: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Rach wrote: "I just finished the prologue, and I must say I'm feeling rather ignorant, as I had no idea who Humboldt was, despite him being such an influential figure and quite famous in his day. Seems like thi..."

Rach-- I wonder if we will find out why non of us know about him today though we easily recognize the figures he influenced.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Glad that people are reading this and discussing. I must admit that my copy is still en route, so haven't yet started.

I have the same wondering about why I hadn't heard of this man! I live one county south of Humboldt County in Northern California. Have heard the name for so many years and never associated with anything or anybody previous to this.

Looking forward to learning about this adventurer.

Thank you ~


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Seriously the guy should have all these adventure movies or documentaries about him!


message 21: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
shira wrote: "Glad that people are reading this and discussing. I must admit that my copy is still en route, so haven't yet started.

I have the same wondering about why I hadn't heard of this man! I live one co..."


Hi Shira: I am glad you are joining on this one. :)


message 22: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Question:
For those of you who have read it or who are reading -- do you resonate with Humboldt's view and approach to nature? Is it important to experience nature to know it? Why?

How do you respond to this:

"Nature must be experienced through feeling."


message 23: by Sarah (last edited Jun 12, 2018 10:32AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments This guy was a real Indian Jones--meets Darwin, meets Tesla. His personality is probably a lot more like Tesla. Seriously, he kept messing with electricity whether by wire or by eel! Quite fascinating his devotion to empirical study! His unique way of seeing creatures changed a lot of points of view. Many people had been following René DeCartes’ belief that animals feel no pain and we’re merely fleshy automatons. The concept is so ignorant in my view by the common sense notion that if animals live and breathe and have a central nervous system, and can feel things touching them; then how is it they anyone thought animals couldn’t feel pain, yet we can since we too are animals?! Aristotle and other philosophers and scientists had ways of classifying and observing nature, but I suppose it had yet to have a kind of protocol to it.


message 24: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: ".
This guy is a real Indian Jones meets Darwin meets Tesla. His personality is probably a lot more like Tesla. Seriously, he kept messing with electricity whether by wire or by eel! His unique way ..."


Maybe... one thing to recall is that this was pre-Darwin, so the connection between humans and animals wasn't as widely known and agreed upon as it will become in the late 19th C. The mid 18th C and 19th C is such a time of discovery and experimentation of thought. Humboldt leads this.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Fair point. They still had scientific classifications but I guess René Descartes was too strong an influencer. Some days I’d like to poke him with a pin and see if he feels pain. Okay... maybe he wouldn’t because he’s been dead for a really long time but go back in a time machine...
Okay, maybe that’s a lot of work; maybe we’ll stick with your point.


message 26: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 669 comments I purchased the book but have been slow to start it. I have a lot going on, including organizing the publicity for a major event, https://www.rayzimmermanauthor.com/th...
HI can read a few chapters this week.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Wow! That is a major project there, Ray! Good luck with it, it looks fascinating!!


message 28: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Wonderful Ray! Good work; looks like a great event. I hope it is a success. :)


message 29: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Oh I meant to ask -- would you please share any quotes in the book that really stand out for you? I've found in other discussions this is really fun, and often generates other thoughts and reflections.
Thanks.


message 30: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
So! I would like to jump back to the beginning of the book- before the S American trip.

I have been fascinated by the references to Kant and how is it possible to know something. How do we know? Subjective and Objective.

Humboldt began as an empiricist --but he evolved from just collecting data to emotionally responding to nature. He began to think about our relationship with nature as being closely related to the way we see things. I want to give you an example of an epiphany I had two days ago.

I am driving to the farmer's market.
Something lying in the road
A squirrel
a Western Gray Squirrel
This squirrel is better than the California Ground Squirrel, more noble, more worthy of life!
Imagining the squirrel's lively sporadic capering --envisioning it alive.
Sadness. Judging how bad it is that this squirrel was killed --knowing I would not have felt particularly sorry had it been a ground squirrel.

So--- what is real here?
Basically something is dead in the road.

But the human adds all this other meaning onto the objective reality.

And, had I been you or someone else the above narrative might have been quite different.

Something dead in the road
a squirrel
neutral- start thinking about getting to my son's baseball game

Something dead in the road
a squirrel
a Western Gray Squirrel
great! One less squirrel to drive Danny Hainer's dog crazy. I wish I could figure out a way to keep those squirrels out of my yard. They make my dogs crazy......


I guess my point is --what is real? How do we know something - is it through objective facts or through experience?

Your reflections and comments please?


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments What is real is that there is a dead squirrel in the road. The rest is influenced by the observer and opinion. The observer happens to know what kind of squirrel it is because of having experienced squirrels before and been educated as to type. Had the observer never seen a squirrel before or not familiar with the type of squirrel it is, it would just be a dead rodent in the road. The observer brings qualifications to the experience. The squirrel, brings another point of view or did up until the time that it was hit by the car and then thought, "great... this was not a good idea after all..." Erwin Schrodinger believed that observation effected the experiment. I say that observation is effected by the observer effecting what is reality especially when conveyed to another. It's an excellent and interesting point; what is observed is effected by the observer!


Sadly, since I am listening to this book, I am unable to copy/paste quotes and given this difficulty, I think this will be the last time I listen to a book that is for the book discussion. It's better to tangibly read it so that it can referred back to and quoted properly.


message 32: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Hi Sarah-- don't worry at all about the quotes. It's just a fun thing to do IF you wish! And really no one else mentions it here, so in other discussions that I am not in here it generally doesn't happen. But, I noticed it was fun in two other non Nat Lit discussions I have been in lately, so I suggested it. :)

And, I love how you bring in the squirrel's point of view- which I had not thought about.

Finally, their S America journey is one I am happy to do in the arm chair. What a tortuous saga. Rough. I've done a lot in the outdoors-- but those mosquitoes on that level was beyond what i could have endured.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Come on folks feel free to join on in! It’s a safe space! What are you finding interesting? Funny? Weird? Confusing? Good, bad or indifferent?

I would have loved that South American journey when I was younger and healthier. Sadly, I could not do it now, but I love reading about it! Granted we have industrial strength bug repellent now, but even being miserably drank by mosquitoes I would have been amazed at all the new things I’d be seeing. It would be like going to Mars now, or seeing what is at the bottom of the Mariana Trench! Wow! That thill of being the first (as white men they didn’t count the natives sadly, and I shall bypass going into the ignorance of some of our European ancestor here) to discover something that wasn’t common knowledge already, to go where no European man had gone before and record things they had never recorded before, must have been extremely thrilling! Come to think of it, I wonder if there were Asian or other groups who traveled as explorers like the Europeans did. If so did any write books about it? Is it just that they’ve never been translated into English, French, Spanish, or German for example? That would be an interesting book as to what made the European culture so obsessed with exploring. Does anyone know about other non-European explorers? That would be an interesting book for next time since we’ve been taking about perspective of the viewer. How would a Japanese exploitation see the world differently from the German for example. Point of view, no matter how unbiased we try to be, is influenced by our upbringings, what we have been previously exposed to and our philosophies. If 5 people who have never seen anything before all see it, they would all describe it a bit differently. It’s like what Sher was talking about with the squirrel.


message 34: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "Come on folks feel free to join on in! It’s a safe space! What are you finding interesting? Funny? Weird? Confusing? Good, bad or indifferent?

I would have loved that South American journey when ..."


Great Post Sarah--- you are a multiperpsective thinker after my own heart.

What chapter are you on? I am in C 8.


message 35: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 669 comments I have only completed Chapter 3 at this point. The references to Schiller intrigued me. I had heard of him, but knew little about him.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedri...


message 36: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 669 comments Humboldt’s influence on Darwin and on Climate Change thinking would receive a mixed welcome in my part of the world. I live in the South where evolution is controversial and climate change is suspect. Dayton, Tennessee, home of the Scopes Monkey Trial, is about an hour’s drive from my home in Chattanooga. The trial is reenacted at the Rhea County Courthouse each year. It is a tourist attraction, and some residents claim that the original trial was meant to be a show trial to promote their city. The film Inherit the Wind portrays a carnival like atmosphere while ridiculing the prosecutors, including a character William jennings Bryant, who once sought the presidency, while extolling the defending attorney, based on the real life attorney Clarence Darrow. Modern day Dayton is still sometimes called, “Monkey City.”

The Scopes Monkey Trial festival https://scopesfestival.com/

Although a fictional work, the film Inherit the Wind is loosely based on the trial. The background portion of this article connects the fictional characters to their real life counterparts.

Interestingly, the real life John T. Scopes also went to Venezuela after his conviction for teaching evolution in the public schools was overturned and after completing graduate studies at the University of Chicago. He discovered one of the world's richest oil fields.


message 37: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 669 comments Sorry, tha tone sentence should have said, a character based on William Jennings Bryant. The article on the film is located here.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherit...

To this day, Bryant College in Dayton, Tennessee requires faculty to sign a statement affirming belief in Young Earth Creationism.


message 38: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Ray wrote: "I have only completed Chapter 3 at this point. The references to Schiller intrigued me. I had heard of him, but knew little about him.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedri..."


I was also interested in Schiller and his response to Goethe's involvement with Humboldt. He expressed tension- almost jealousy over Goethe focusing on the natural sciences away from poetry.


message 39: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Ray wrote: "Humboldt’s influence on Darwin and on Climate Change thinking would receive a mixed welcome in my part of the world. I live in the South where evolution is controversial and climate change is suspe..."

Hi Ray:
I did not know that end tidbit about Scopes. That is interesting.

Have you heard of this book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion I read it this year--terrific with lots of details about Scopes and Rhea County, Evolution, and the tension surrounding these issues.


message 40: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Ray wrote: "Sorry, tha tone sentence should have said, a character based on William Jennings Bryant. The article on the film is located here.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherit...

To th..."



To me -- that is incredible-- about having to sign a form stating I believe in Intelligent Design. What an eye opener.


message 41: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 669 comments Not even Intelligent Design - Young Earth Creationism, which holds that the earth is about 5,000 years old - based on the Old Testament genealogies.


message 42: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Ray wrote: "Not even Intelligent Design - Young Earth Creationism, which holds that the earth is about 5,000 years old - based on the Old Testament genealogies."

Ok. And I guess this infers the literal interpretation of the Bible. So, signing this form would inform their whole approach and philosophy to teaching. So science would only be a problem if it dealt with fossils or something arguing the world was older than 5,000 years.

What is the problem with climate change as far as the folks in your area is concerned? Is it that they disregard science or ...?


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Yikes! Next perhaps you shall be forced to sign a document that the Earth is flat. It’s amazing that we are entering a period where we are going backward again. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back the way of science again soon... but I won’t hold my breath.


message 44: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
Here's a quote I liked! Written down while driving -- safely -- I wrote without looking on a pad....I was not texting! :)

Humboldt was reflecting on new ways to describe and think about nature.

"This deep imagination soothed the deep wounds that pure reason sometimes created."


message 45: by Sher (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sher (sheranne) | 1106 comments Mod
I've been trying to understand why Humboldt's contribution was so significant. After all isn't it easy to see that nature is a web of connectivity?

Apparently not -- the author explains that in the late 18th early 19th C nature -- definitely botany was also about lists and classifications.
Think Linnaeus--
Carolus Linnaeus is the father of taxonomy, which is the system of classifying and naming organisms. One of his contributions was the development of a hierarchical system of classification of nature. Today, this system includes eight taxa: domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. (Study.com)


message 46: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 669 comments Sher wrote: "Ray wrote: "Humboldt’s influence on Darwin and on Climate Change thinking would receive a mixed welcome in my part of the world. I live in the South where evolution is controversial and climate cha..."

I had not heard of that book. I will look into it.


message 47: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 669 comments Sher wrote: "Ray wrote: "Not even Intelligent Design - Young Earth Creationism, which holds that the earth is about 5,000 years old - based on the Old Testament genealogies."

Ok. And I guess this infers the li..."


The issue of climate change in this part of the world is that it implies an end of things other than the biblical Armageddon. Not a problem to me, but it is to many of my neighbors.

Also, religion, politics and business interests are very intertwined here. Prosperity gospel etc. The political will to protect corporate interests is intertwined with the political agenda to promote specific religious beliefs On the Pope's recent visit to America, Senator Cruz - not from Tennessee, but popular here said, Capitalism is our Salvation."


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Yikes Sher! The whole idea that you don’t have to be accountable Earth because of the apocalypse or that God will fix it is irresponsible. The worship of greed and materialism that seems to have taken such purchase of late is like dandelion seeds in freshly tilled soil! These folks who follow this belief do not spend enough time outdoors! If they did they would see their religion made real in the stunning grandeur of nature. How can you see the Grand Canyon or a sequoia or the California Redwood forest and not be awed by Nature?! It works whatever your belief system as it fills you with its majesty! You say, “damn! We can’t let this be lost! This is magnificent other need to see it! Suddenly having so many things isn’t as important as spending time here as a part of Nature!” Okay maybe I am wishful thinking, but time in nature will make you want to preserve it. The Nature Fix: Why Nature Matters by Florence Williams talks about the physical and mental health benefits that come from time in nature. Improved health means lower healthcare expenses! The fact that these things are studied, predominantly by the Japanese I believe, means that some have seen the patterns and wish to protect the environment so everyone has a chance to experience it.

I know Aristotle defined categories for organization of species etc. but I don’t know much of the history of scientific sorting and processing. It seems Humbolt has some effect on this though I am only on chapter 8. He was certainly surrounded by powerful people like Thomas Jefferson who sent our the explorers Lewis and Clark who Jefferson told to collect botanical species in addition to their assignments to get to know the Native Americans which they did a questionable job of depending on your point of view.
Humbolt influenced so many people that it is impossible to really quantify his influence!


message 49: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Zimmerman | 669 comments Sarah wrote: "Yikes Sher! The whole idea that you don’t have to be accountable Earth because of the apocalypse or that God will fix it is irresponsible. The worship of greed and materialism that seems to have ta..."

Humboldt indeed appears to have had great influence. His opponents have also had great influence. I just finished chapter four, with the description of Lake Valencia, drying up and the land left dry being cultivated, which accelerated the drying process. It was a feedback loop much like the melting of polar ice which causes less light to be reflected and more to be converted into heat which melts more ice.

The quotations from early Americans who thought that cutting the forests would would dry up coastal swamps and create arable land, as presented in the final pages of chapter four demonstrate an attitude still prevalent today in some parts of the world. Contrast this with Ben Franklin inventing the Franklin stove which heated homes more efficiently and burned less wood.

Interestingly, I once conversed with a retired minister who said that climate change would be a good thing because we could begin cultivating Arctic and Antarctic regions and convert "wastelands" into farms.

Other than that, Chapter 4 is interesting for other reasons. I got a delightful picture of Humboldt quaking internally as he got his instruments out and took careful measurements of the earthquake.


Sarah Booth (boothacus) | 112 comments Exactly! I had a friend say, “maybe it will be a good thing!” I wanted to find a small tree and beat him with it.


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