Reply To: Mon 17 March: Greece and Revisionist Environmental History

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nickhirschstein@live.nl # Posted on March 17, 2014 at 13:39

Seminar 17.3.2014 – Oliver Rackham
By Nick Hirschstein

Question 3: how has pseudo-ecology been a problem besides ancient Greece?

Overall the existence of pseudo-ecology could mean a problem for any kind of historical ecology. It jeopardizes the integrity of historical documents and essays and could mean that every source, document, book needs to be checked whether it is basing opinions or statements on the so-called factoids. With that in mind we have to regard that everything that is written about ecology can be based on false information, since the oldest sources were not meant to be a source in the field of ecology, now that becomes a realization it means that there are a lot problems underneath the surface.

With Rackham’s reading in mind, I was remembering that in one of the earlier courses last semester there was an extensive discussion of environmental degradation not only in Greece, but in the entire Mediterrean region, which kind of follows the same line of argumentation. The argumentation was that there was one coherent theory on why this region was experiencing soil-degradation. However even though we see it as one region, I would argue that it’s hard to see the region as one ecosystem. This theory has some of the characteristics that Rackham mentions, with gross generalizations and maybe the lack of original data. I would highly doubt that this one scholar has visited the entire region and made observations as well experimented to support all his arguments, since the region is too large and would need a very detailed knowledge of the landscape. So it seems more likely that this scholar has assembled a lot of research done by others to create one coherent theory. Even though Rackham is talking a lot about older sources as well, this particular theory was quite new, so this is still a current problem.

There are probably another quite some other examples that experience the same problem where the researchers are not actually been to the field where they research, and probably if they have been, only once.