Environmental History — The Environmental Evidence

  • F. Oldfield
  • R. L. Clark


Historians and palaeoecologists alike study the past, but usually rely on quite different kinds of evidence. Most palaeoecologists who study past environmental change are concerned with long time scales stretching beyond the reach of history proper. They also overwhelmingly use the present as the key to the past, in the classic Huttonian sense (Hutton 1788), rather than the record of the past to inform our understanding of the present and future. Historians may thus be forgiven for seeing few links between their approach to environmental history and that of palaeoecologists. Yet there is a significant and growing minority of the latter who have focused their expertise on the recent, “historical” past and tackled problems with direct bearing on present day issues (Oldfield 1983, 1987; Wasson and Clark 1985; Clark 1989). Our contention is that these studies have much in common with document-based historical research. There is a continuum of concern across the wide range of studies embracing “scientific” and “documentary” approaches to environmental history, and there are parallels between the two methodologies which often complement and reinforce each other in important and interesting ways.


Lake Sediment Sediment Yield Sediment Record Environmental History Documentary Evidence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Oldfield
    • 1
  • R. L. Clark
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolGreat Britain
  2. 2.Division of Water ResourcesCSIROCanberraAustralia

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