Chronology of Americans and the Environment

Chronology of Americans and the Environment

Chronology of Americans and the Environment

Chronology of Americans and the Environment


Covering the 17th century to the contemporary era, this chronological overview of the role of the environment provides many insights into one of the most important aspects of American history.

• Primary source accounts give a fascinating window into the ideas and experiences of those who have been instrumental in or witness to key events in U.S. environmental history

• Provides a chronology of events, key figures, ideas, and political developments that define Americans' relationship with the environment

• Includes various photographs and illustrations to accompany topics in the text

• A bibliography containing general titles, monographs, and websites provides sources for further research


ca. 2 million-60,000 BCE

POP. Modern homo sapiens (humans) evolve from archaic humans in east Africa and expand outward to southern Africa and southwest Asia and eventually to Europe. By 60,000 BCE world population stands at around 600,000.

ca. 15,000–13,000 BCE

NATI. Following their migration into northeastern Siberia, human big-game hunters move into North America by way of the Bering Plain, a narrow land bridge that emerged as sea levels dropped near the end of the last major ice age (75,000 BCE— 60,000 BCE). These first Paleoamericans further migrated throughout the Americas and culturally evolved into hundreds of distinct peoples. The Bering Plain migration contrasts sharply with the oral traditions of the peoples descended from the Paleoamericans—the indigenous peoples of the Americas, whose tribal creation myths each hold that their people emerged from their particular place in the natural world. Creation mythologies shared fundamental tenets that linked people to place, spiritually, and materially. Animistic beliefs held no distinction between the human and the natural world, and every part of the cosmos is sacred and alive and to be respected. These precepts, together with an understanding of the limits of nature acquired through experience over time, prove fundamental to maintaining generally stable populations.

ca. 13,000–10,000 BCE

BIOD. Large North American mammals become extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. Scientists remain divided over a definitive reason for the extinction but generally point to some combination of three factors: climate change at the end of the Pleistocene, excessive hunting by humans, and disease brought by migrating humans from Asia. Whatever the cause, North American Pleistocene megafauna that . . .

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