|The conference program for our annual meeting in Boise in March 2008 is now available. Click here for the program and the registration form. Members will also receive a paper copy in the mail.
This is the second issue of ASEH's electronic newsletter.
See the Table of Contents below ("In This Issue") and click on the article that you wish to read. When you finish an article, scroll back up to the Table of Contents and click on the next article that you wish to read.
|From the President's Desk: Carbon Footprints and Keeping ASEH Conferences Green|
Michael Smith's article in this newsletter asks us to reflect on the environmental "contradictions inherent in our particular organization's annual conference" and "reconsider the idea of annual conferences altogether." Smith is certainly right that flying generates substantial greenhouse gas emissions. When I fly from Madison to Boise in March, I will add about 1 ton of CO2 to my already substantial footprint (that's assuming I can persuade orbitz to route me in a fairly straight line, instead of via Atlanta or Los Angeles). My flights to Boise alone will have led to more emissions than an average Bangladeshi will have caused all year, and as Michael reminds us, Bangladeshis are going to have to deal with the consequences of climate change longer before Wisconsinites have to worry. At any professional society conference, we might seriously consider stocking up on those bumper stickers you see slapped onto SUVS: "I'm changing the climate! Ask me how!" After plastering them on our electronic ticket receipts, we could stick them onto our disposable nametags, or maybe adorn our paper coffee cups with them.
So how do we reduce our travel emissions? The simplest way is to stay home. Michael Smith suggests that we consider alternatives to annual conferences, joining our colleagues via the internet. For some kinds of meetings, this may be a valid strategy. Who needs to meet face-to-face to discuss inequities in the annual departmental allocation of copy paper? I'd much rather telecommute to (or just skip) that particular meeting.
The American Society for Environmental History conferences are different, however. Like many of our members, I value the intimacy and good cheer of the annual meeting. Reading each other's essays and books fosters certain kinds of communication, and emerging electronic technologies can substitute for many interactions. Yet being in the actual presence of people and places is still how we sustain community. Technology can do some of the work, but it cannot do it all. We need the warmth, stimulation, and engagement we only get in the presence of another person.
Getting to know new places is also an important part of ASEH's conferences. Instead of holding meetings in the same several cities year after year, we try to move across the country to new sites. This does entail travel, but it also helps us learn about places in ways that words alone cannot replace. The influence of Boise's Basque community on the city's culture is something that you understand better when you walk down Grove Street. The sharp smell of the sagebrush-steppe, the extraordinary concentrations of birds of prey gliding on the thermals above the rimrock cliffs along the Snake River-you can read about these online. But the experience of walking, smelling, listening, and tasting the particularities of a place is a key part of learning environmental history.
Bill McKibben came to Madison this fall, interrupting his Step It Up 2007 tour (dedicated to concrete action on global warming) to talk with the Madison community. During his visit, several of my students brought up the irony of flying around the country to protest global warming. Shouldn't we all stay at home and engage in digital conversations instead, avoiding face-to-face meetings that only contribute to resource consumption? "But how can I eat Thanksgiving turkey with my family online?" worried one student. We had a lively discussion about how we can best balance the need for face-to-face contact with the need to limit air travel. All the students were inspired by Bill's visit, and they agreed that reading his words couldn't substitute for actually spending time with him. Bill McKibben is considering joining us for the Tallahassee meeting, so all of us may have a chance to talk with him in person about this dilemma.
ASEH will continue holding annual meetings, for our members have repeatedly told us how much they value them. We are taking steps toward reducing the environmental impact of the society, and particularly of the annual meeting. The executive committee now conducts some meetings online. Our executive director, Lisa Mighetto, has been negotiating with conference hotels to reduce our environmental impact with recyclable nametags, washable coffee cups, and choosing green venues such as Portland, Oregon.
As individuals, we can all reduce the impact of meeting travel. Taking the train, the bus, or carpooling is a far better choice than flying, if you can afford the time. If you do need to fly, you can purchase carbon offsets. You will still be emitting CO2, but at least you will be paying someone else to reduce their emissions in your stead. Many companies now have websites that allow you to calculate your CO2 from a particular trip, and buy off-sets online. These companies use the funds to invest in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including building windmills, retrofitting buildings, and installing solar panels. The Tufts Climate Initiative has evaluated a number of these companies, and I have used my-climate.com, one of Tufts' recommended sites. We have added links to several carbon offset sites in the editor's note at the end of Smith's article in this newsletter. We encourage everyone who is traveling to Boise (or anywhere else, for that matter), to consider these possibilities.
The winter issue of ASEH's newsletter, which traditionally lists all committees and their members, would not be complete without a note of thanks to our volunteers. ASEH would not exist without the generosity and dedication of many volunteers. I am extremely grateful to all our members who have served on the executive, nominating, prize, program, local arrangements, conference site selection, ASEH website, H-Environment listserve, education, and diversity committees, and to the many other members who offered assistance, suggestions, and support. Our members have been generous also with donations, which make possible our travel grants as well as other activities. Our entire Society is deeply indebted to all of you.
|The Profession: Reflections of an Environmental Reporter|
Environmental Reporter Rocky Barker covered the Yellowstone fires in 1988 (photo courtsey Robert Bower).
"I don't apologize for caring," he explains in the article below. "When you care about education, you're not accused of being pro-education or pro-children. But when you care about the environment, you become a lightning rod."
By Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman
At the environmental history conference several years ago in Durham, Donald Worster told his audience of historians that they were inherently a part of the environmental movement.
My immediate reaction was similar to several other people in the room, who as historians viewed themselves as outsiders looking in, observers of the environmental movement but certainly not participants. It forced me to think more about my own role as an environmental journalist.
My craft, environmental journalism, is relatively new. It began in the 1960's in the days after Rachael Carson wrote her landmark book Silent Spring and before Earth Day in 1970. The craft was pioneered by people like Dick Kienitz at the Milwaukee Journal writing about pesticides, Michael Frome writing about wilderness for Field and Stream and Paul McClennon in Buffalo revealing the horrors of Love Canal.
It remains a controversial segment of the journalism family because we care passionately about the subjects we write about. We have had to fight for credibility with our editors and had to protect it for our readers and ourselves.
We must continually ask ourselves when caring gets in the way of credibility. In many ways we share the challenge community journalists have for decades. As a journalist, by professional standards, I'm not supposed to be a player. Tony Hillerman, the former newspaperman turned Western mystery writer, described our recognized proper role as a fly on the wall to the events we cover, listening, reporting and even interpreting, but not getting involved.
For many of my colleagues the way to deal with objectivity is to keep their opinions to themselves. I lost the luxury of hiding my views in 1989, when I became the Idaho Falls Post Register's editorial page editor and again as author and columnist. My readers got proof of what they already knew. I loved wilderness, wildlife, clean air and water.
I address my biases with fairness and a balanced approach to seeking the truth. The balance I use is the knowledge that no matter how comprehensively I have researched a subject, I may not understand the real truth.
I may be wrong, so I have a responsibility to show my readers plausible alternative realities to those I present.
Being a part of community doesn't mean we don't compete in the marketplace of ideas, resources and politics. But as a journalist who seeks truth, and knows he doesn't know it, I limit that involvement to bringing the voices of all sides to each other and to the rest of my readers.
Yet I don't apologize for caring. When you care about education, you're not accused of being pro-education or pro-children. But when you care about the environment, you become a lightning rod.
So I too, like all of my colleagues in environmental journalism, am a part of the environmental movement, something larger and more powerful than I can understand today. We will have to await our understanding for future environmental historians to sort out.
Rocky Barker will be one of the speakers in the fire history workshop in Boise, March 12, 2008. For more information, click here.
|Article: Facing Some Inconvenient Truth Ourselves|
|By Michael Smith, Department of History and Environmental Studies Program, Ithaca College
In a recent issue of Orion magazine, Janisse Ray makes a compelling case that many of us who are part of the environmentalist choir-perhaps especially those of us who work at institutions of higher education-are not yet saved. Ray recounts the conversations she has had with environmental scientists, activists, ethicists, writers, and probably even a historian or two at gatherings around the North America. Invariably, she writes, these conversations and the venues at which they often take place highlight some painful ecological and ethical contradictions. Here we are, she thinks, jetting around the country (or even the world) to gather for a few days (occasionally only for a few hours!), often staying in characterless hotels scattered across urban landscapes like so many interchangeable parts, talking about the environmental challenges we face, and then flying home again. We may even be advancing knowledge, but at what cost? It is time the members of the ASEH consider carefully Ray's "alter call for true believers."
I am assuming here that most members consider themselves to be environmentalists, at least occasionally reflect on their carbon and ecological footprints, and have publicly and privately expressed their commitment to creating a more sustainable culture. The work we do as historians either implicitly or explicitly embodies these values. Many members of our sub-discipline are called upon by the media to render historical judgments on present environmental crises. The field trips at the annual conference usually appeal to our activist or naturalist side. My assumption, I think, is safe.
But as much fun as I have had at the two annual conferences I have attended, like Ray I am always troubled by the costs of these events-not the registration fees, airfare, and hotel bills (these are usually paid for by my institutional travel budget), but the ecological costs (which we all pay for but which mostly go unaccounted for). How many tons of carbon is a single gathering of environmental historians responsible for, just in terms of air travel alone? How many of us who belong to CSA's, take alternative forms of transportation to work, or do all we can to reduce daily waste production, deviate from our normal patterns of consumption while on the road? Often we do this of necessity, since it is nearly impossible to eat locally grown food unless it is specially catered and the modern hotel generates an enormous amount of waste, those feel good cards asking patrons to reuse towels notwithstanding.
In this space a few years ago I reflected on the 2001 conference in Durham and urged the society to "take more seriously the 'environmental' in environmental history." This would mean taking into consideration the commitment to Aldo Leopold's land ethic of both the host city (or locale) and the venue for the conference events themselves. At the very least it would involve doing a careful cost/benefit analysis of whether the scholarly and community-building activities that mean so much to us (myself included) merit the heavy imprint their footprint makes on the earth. As far as I can tell, these considerations still carry very little weight in the site selection process. Though I am heartened to see Portland, Oregon, one of the most progressive cities in the country in environmental matters will be the host in 2010, in 2009 many of us will be flying off to both Florida (surely one of the most environmentally stressed states in the union) and Denmark (itself a good model for sustainability but a long carbon plume away).
Like Janisse Ray, I do not intend to scold or cast judgments. "There is an ancient enmity between deed and creed," she writes. We can all recognize this. I am all too aware of how poorly some of my own consumer choices and behavior are align with my desire to be part of a cultural transformation that dramatically reduces our ecological footprint without diminishing our quality of life (something altogether different from standard of living). The stakes are high: the success or failure of this project of transformation may well determine whether my two small sons and all of their peers live in a world even more ecologically and socially unstable than this one. What is even harder to come to terms with is the fact that it is not my sons but the children of Bangladesh or Tuvalu who will pay the highest price for our flying thousands of miles a year to hear papers, have drinks with old friends, and go on field trips that may engage us more deeply with the place we are visiting than the places we actually live.
Surely I am not the only ASEH member who has reflected on the contradictions inherent in our particular organization's annual conference (not to mention air travel to speaking engagements or other conferences). Yet in order to discuss climate change and what environmental historians might contribute to the conversation about it, Nancy Langston asks us to "Come to Boise!" in the fall newsletter. Isn't there something ironic-if not perverse-about flying to Idaho from all over North America and many other parts of the world in order to discuss winners and losers in climate change and "who has the power to define the terms of the debates over global warming"?
I still feel more connected to the ASEH than any other professional organization I belong to, which is why I think it is time to confront our own "inconvenient truths" head on. While I continue to advocate for a footprint assessment as a criteria for choosing conference sites, I believe it is time to reconsider the idea of annual conferences altogether. In this age of electronic communication is the conference-or at least one held on an annual basis-really necessary? Certainly the professional and personal relationships could be sustained in other ways. In the early years of the ASEH the biennial conference was supplemented by regional conferences in the off-years, events many more attendees drove to, often in carpools. A return to this format would be a good step in the right direction. It would certainly be a powerful, principled statement.
If you are interested in participating in a dialogue on this topic, please contact Michael Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's Note: ASEH members might not realize the extent to which our organization works to reduce our "ecological footprint" at conferences. We negotiate with hotels to serve locally grown food, for instance, which was served in St. Paul and Baton Rouge and is planned for Boise. We also work to reduce waste, especially of paper, as this electronic newsletter and electronic announcements about the conference demonstrate. Our conference program for Boise includes info. on public transportation, and our conference hotel in Portland (for 2010) has a Green Seal certification. Information on carbon offsets is provided below.
If members have additional suggestions, please send them to email@example.com
Carbon offsets are financial contributions targeted at projects that take CO2 out of the atmosphere or prevent more from being added. You can purchase offsets to balance travel-generated CO2, typically one offset per ton of gas emitted. The number of tons is based on how many miles you travel, whether by car or plane, and the amount of fuel used. Carbon offsets fund projects that create renewable energy sources, as well as "carbon sequestration" efforts like planting trees.
The Climate Protection Partnership is a non-profit company based in Switzerland.
Atmosfair is a German non-profit company focusing on offsetting air travel.
Climate friendly is an Australian-based for-profit company.
NativeEnergy is a US-based for-profit company.
|ASEH Education Committee Receives Grant
ASEH received a grant from the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies to bring a local K-12 teacher to our conference in Boise. The teacher, who will be selected by our Education Committee, will develop a curriculum unit on environmental history in the intermountain west that will be posted on our website after the conference. If you would like to meet and welcome the teacher, or if you have questions, please contact Education Committee chair Aaron Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org
World Congress of Environmental History, Copenhagen, Denmark
ASEH will join the World Congress of Environmental History, hosted by the International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations, August 4-8, 2009. For more information, click on this link, which includes the Call for Papers (proposals due March 30, 2008):
ASEH Tallahassee 2009 Conference Call for Papers
The Call for Papers for ASEH's 2009 conference in Tallahassee, Florida, will be posted on our website (www.aseh.net - see "Conferences and Workshops") in January 2008, and will be available at the ASEH booth in the exhibit area in Boise in March 2008.
Call for Nominations for ASEH's Distinguished Scholar Award
ASEH's Executive Committee is considering nominations for our Distinguished Scholar Award. Previous recipients of this award have included Donald Worster, Samuel Hays, and Alfred Crosby. Recipients of the award need not be members of ASEH, but ASEH members can suggest candidates. Current members of ASEH's Executive Committee are not eligible for consideration as candidates this year. If you are interested, please send your suggestions to email@example.com by January 18, 2008.
Call for Proposals to Host ASEH Conference
ASEH's Site Selection Committee is now soliciting proposals from individuals or groups who are interested in hosting the annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History in 2011 and 2012. Those interested should contact the Chair of the Site Selection Committee, Sarah S. Elkind
Department of History, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-6050 for a copy of the ASEH's Conference Guidelines and other information. The Deadline for submission of proposals for the 2011 meeting is January 15, 2008. Please keep in mind that hosting a conference requires substantial effort and time as well as significant institutional support, and that the proposed local arrangement chair must reside in the city proposed.
Matthew Klingle's book, Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle, is now available from Yale University Press.
George S. Pabis's book, Daily Life Along the Mississippi River, is available from Greenwood Press. He has also signed a book contract with the University Press of Florida to write a multidisciplinary study titled
The Mississippi River: An Ecological History.
|Annual List of New Members|
ASEH welcomed the following new members in 2007:
|Alexander I. Olson|
|Alexander Joseph Hardy|
|Andrew G. Krause|
|April R. Summitt|
|Bradley Matthys Moore|
|Brandon C. Davis|
|Brian Frederick Hamilton|
|Charles C. Chester|
|Christian Sierra Harrison|
|Christopher L. Hill|
|Drew Addison Swanson|
|F. Scott Arthur Murray|
|Gian Carlo Carrada|
|James D. Rice|
|James R. Hesen|
|James S. Clifford|
|Jason P. Theriot|
|Jessica Johanna van Horssen|
|Jim F. Chamberlain|
|John Howard Wesson|
|Linda Sargent Wood|
|Marisa Anne Benson|
|Mark Howard Long|
|Megan Katherine Prins|
|Michael G. Turner|
|Michael R. Lehman|
|Molly Frances MacGregor|
|UWisc. Nelson Institute
|Randall S. Dills|
|Richard Samuel Deese|
|S. Max Edelson|
|Sally Hammond Clarke|
|Sam R. Stalcup|
|Shawn Patrick Bailey|
|Shawn W. Miller|
|Susan Brydon Golz|
|Barbara J. Coupe|
|Christopher Leonard Pastore|
|Donald H. Shedd|
|Eileen M Oviatt|
|Evelyn Krache Morris|
|Francis J. Priznar|
|Francis O. Zumbrun|
|Jason Brice Kauffman|
|Jennifer Leigh Bonnell|
|Joe R. McBride|
|Joseph William McCall|
|Kevin John Dwyer|
|Kevin Noble Powers|
|Logan Quinn Derderian|
|Michael P. Hanagan|
|Richard D. Taber|
|Sarah Ellen Camacho|
|Annual Thanks to Donors|
We are very grateful for the generosity of ASEH members, and wish to thank the following individuals, who donated to the organization in 2007:
Richard Samuel Deese
Finn Arne Jorgensen
Laurel Sefton MacDowell
Petra van Dam
The ASEH could not function without the volunteers who devote many hours to supporting the organization's mission. During 2007, our committees have assisted with the following activities and accomplishments:
- Annual conference (Local Arrangements, Program, and Site Selection Committees)
- Providing online access to back issues of Environmental History on JSTOR, and organizing sessions at our annual conference on publishing in env. history (Publications Committee)
- Designing online Directory of Experts, and promoting env. history to other professionals and organizations, including a workshop for scientists, historians, and community activists at our meeting in Baton Rouge (Outreach Committee)
- Involving K-12 educators in env. history, including obtaining a grant to bring a teacher to our 2008 Boise meeting (Education Committee)
- Selecting and presenting awards for best book, article, and dissertation in env. history (Awards Committees)
We are grateful for all their work and dedication. We would also like to thank Liza Piper, our webmaster, for ongoing maintenance and updating of our website, and the H-Environment editors for maintaining the discussion list and other resources. We are deeply indebted as well to the editors of Environmental History. And we look forward to the participation of the Diversity Committee, formed in late 2007, in coming years.
For a list of all committees, including elected committees (Executive Committee and Nominating Committee), click here. If you are interested in serving on a committee, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
ASEH News is a publication of the American Society for Environmental History.
- Nancy Langston, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison, President
- Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Vice President/President Elect
- Mark Madison, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Treasurer
- Ellen Stroud, Bryn Mawr College, Secretary
- Kathleen Bronson, University of Houston
- Peter Coates, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
- Paul Hirt, Arizona State University
- Nancy Jacobs, Brown University
- Katherine Morrissey, University of Arizona
- Mark Stoll, Texas Tech University
- Verena Winiwarter, University of Klagenfurt
Ex Officio, Past Presidents:
- Carolyn Merchant, University of California-Berkeley
- Stephen Pyne, Arizona State University
- Douglas Weiner, University of Arizona
Ex Officio, Executive Director and Editor, ASEH News:
- Lisa Mighetto, University of Washington-Tacoma
Ex Officio, H-Environment Representative:
Ex Officio, Editor, Environmental History:
- Mark Cioc, University of California-Santa Cruz
Climate Science and Env. History Featured at Boise Conference in March 2008
The role of the humanities in climate change will be examined at the plenary session in Boise. Stephen Schneider, world renowned climatologist from Stanford University, and Patricia Romero-Lankao of the Institute for the Study of Society and the Env., National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado, will speak. ASEH President Nancy Langston will serve as moderator, March 13, 2008.
Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
, will deliver the keynote address, "The Last Fish Tale," on Saturday evening, March 15, 2008. For more information on speakers for special events in Boise, click here
This quarterly newsletter is a publication of the American Society for Environmental History. For more information, or to submit an article, contact email@example.com
Attention ASEH Members
Click here to add your info. to our Directory of Members and Experts.
Attention Authors and Presses
Our conference in Boise will include a large exhibit area. For online and printable exhibit forms, click here. For authors and presses that would like to display books but do not plan to reserve a table, Scholar's Choice is an option.
Fundraising at Boise Conference to Support Travel Grants and Minority Travel Grant
This year's fundraiser will include a dinner, with Basque musicians and food, at the Basque Cultural Center in Boise, following the plenary session, March 13, 2008. Proceeds will benefit the ASEH Travel Grants that help students and low-income scholars present at our meetings. To sign up, see registration forms for our Boise conference. In addition, we will hold a raffle for a drawing by local artist Martin Wilke and other prizes, to benefit the Minority Travel Grant. The raffle drawing will take place at the reception before the Sat. evening banquet, March 15, 2008. To puchase raffle tickets, see registration forms.