New And Precise Environmental History Essay

New And Precise Environmental History Essay

William Cronon on the Importance of Audience Consideration in Environmental History

William Cronon acknowledges how studying environmental history course impact learners and the general public’s perception of the present and future state of the environment. Many people at the end of such courses seemingly feel hopeless about the future environmental conditions. The author tries to find a means of rectifying such impacts by trying to establish the main course of the problem. He, thus, recognizes that the main reason why the environmental history course seems to arouse such a pessimistic attitude on future environmental status is the close relation the course has with the political movement that established it. A large percentage of the environmental historians consider themselves environmentalists and, therefore, in their works they tend to emphasize the present day environmental concerns through contemporary politically oriented interventions rather than the environmental history. The author is very persuasive on this idea, stressing the fact that the environmental historians seek to contribute to the contemporary environmental politics thereby not only helping people understand the past but proposing ways on how to change the future.

To solve the challenges brought up by the environmental historians’ advances, the author proposes the essence and need to consider the audiences to whom the environmental historians address their works. William Cronon notes that it is important for the teacher or writer to ask himself, “to whom the work is useful? Who are perceived as the chief audience? How do they define usefulness?” One such important audience is fellow historians. The colleagues are often much interested in the works of their fellows. The exploration of the human past provides an essential opportunity for a more comprehensive and widened point of view for the historical profession.

Other audiences are from other disciplines such as those from the humanities, natural, and social sciences. Cronon (4) notes that “if the case is strong that environmental history offers the unique opportunity for synthesis across the historical subfields, then it is even stronger for many other disciplines that analyze environmental change”. In an attempt to a more fully integrated synthesis, the environmental history borrows insights from several other disciplines such as anthropology, economics, ecology, geography among others. It demands a lot to speak to the audience from the other disciplines. For instance, the scientists find it difficult to comprehend the more literary narrative style of environmental history and are often more than suspicious of its advances. The author emphasizes that to convince and gain the attention of such an audience, it is very necessary to learn their vocabularies.

The policy makers and activists are usually a common audience to environmental historians. The discipline generally informs the public comprehension of contemporary environmental issues by addressing them in a broader historical context. This enables effective understanding through the linkage of the past to the present. It would, thus, be essential to consider the needs of this audience by establishing the appropriate ways to address modern environmental concerns in relation to the past events.

Lastly, Cronon identifies the final audience as the earth itself. He acknowledges the fact that this audience seems absurd as it can neither speak the human language nor read books. This audience, however, is essential as many environmental historians assess the usefulness of their works based on their contributions to the health and integrity of the natural systems. In emphasis of this point, Cronon notes that “one of the richest and most exciting challenges of our field is the chance to enlist historical scholarship in the service of improving human relationship with nature” (Cronon 8).

In conclusion, environmental history is an essential course that establishes a comprehensive explanation of present and future environmental concerns by placing them into a historical context. However, in most cases this tends to arouse a pessimistic attitude in most learners and stakeholders on the future environmental conditions. William Cronon emphasizes the need for environmental historians to consider their intended audiences for their work to avoid such pessimistic impact in the society


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