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John F. Richards identifies four broadly shared historical processes that speeded environmental change from roughly 1500 to 1800 c.e.: intensified human land use along settlement frontiers
commercial hunting of wildlife
and problems of energy scarcity. The Unending Frontier considers each of these trends in a series of case studies, sometimes of a particular place, such as Tokugawa Japan and early modern England and China, sometimes of a particular activity, such as the fur trade in North America and Russia, cod fishing in the North Atlantic, and whaling in the Arctic. Throughout, Richards shows how humans--whether clearing forests or draining wetlands, transporting bacteria, insects, and livestock
hunting species to extinction, or reshaping landscapes--altered the material well-being of the natural world along with their own.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Human ecology History, Nature Effect of human beings on History