Natural Environmental Change: The Last 3 Million Years

By A. M. Mannion | Go to book overview

Author’s preface

Whilst interest in environmental change remains prevalent at all levels of education and in the popular media, there is a tendency for a concentration on human impact and the environmental issues it creates. In contrast, this book presents a survey of environmental change which has been driven by natural rather than anthropogenic factors over the last three million years.

The book comprises ten chapters. After an introductory chapter, which gives a brief history of the subject, there is a chapter on the geological history of the Earth to provide a perspective which is an essential prerequisite to any examination of environmental change during the last three million years. Chapters 3 to 6 examine the various archives of information on natural environmental change: i.e., ocean sediments, ice cores, continental archives, (for example, glacial and lacustrine sediments, peats, palaeosols, loess, carbonate deposits and packrat middens), tree rings, meteorological data and written historical records. The following three chapters examine environmental change over the last three million years on a spatial basis: high, middle and low latitudes. The conclusion emphasises the significance of patterns and periodicities in the record of natural environmental change and sets the scene for an assessment of human impact on the environment.

In accordance with the objectives of the ‘Introductions to Environment’ series, this text is designed with modular courses in mind, and is intended for first- and second-year students on tertiary education courses in geography, earth and environmental sciences. It provides an introduction to the causes and consequences of natural environmental change by drawing on a wide variety of methods of investigation and abundant case studies. It should also appeal to ‘A’-level teachers and tertiary-level lecturers in subjects related to the earth and environmental sciences.

This field of investigation is as dynamic as environmental change itself. I hope I have captured some of the urgency and excitement associated with such studies and communicated this in a fashion that will inspire readers to pursue further studies and possibly to participate in the research itself.

A. M. Mannion

Reading, 1998

-xvi-

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