Beyond the City Limits: Rural History in British Columbia

By R. W. Sandwell | Go to book overview

8 The Worm in the Apple:Contesting the Codling Moth in British Columbia

David Dendy1

Old joke:

Q. What is worse than finding a worm in the apple you are eating?

A. Finding half a worm.

Humans prefer to believe that they are in control of their world, and historians are human. In Western cultures, in particular, such attitudes have been reinforced by religious beliefs:

God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 2

Therefore the history of humanity has generally been presented as a picture of the triumph of people over environment, to the point where, in much of historical writing, environment is left out entirely as irrelevant or not needing mention. Even the recent concerns over 'environmentalism' largely reflect that same old attitude, in a slightly changed guise. The alarmed warnings that 'we are destroying the ecosystem with our pollution' or that 'atomic weapons could destroy the world' are still based on the assumption that humans are in control of the world; the question now is whether that control is used wisely.

Historians who see human societies as part of the environment, rather than masters of it, offer a broader framework for analysis and interpretation. The interaction between humans and other species may be discussed, including questions about the effect of these species on human societies, and their adaptations to human activities. Thus, the relationship between

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