This is the first book to document the origins and early history of environmentalism, concentrating especially on its hitherto unexplained colonial and global aspects. It highlights the significance of Utopian, physiocratic and medical thinking in the history of environmental ideas. Green Imperialism shows how the new critique of the colonial impact on the environment depended on the emergence of a coterie of professional scientists, especially in the Dutch, French and English maritime empires. The prime importance of the oceanic island 'Eden' as a vehicle for new conceptions of nature is emphasised, and the significance of colonial island environments in stimulating conservationist notions is underlined, revealing how, for the first time, the limitability of local and global resources could be recognised.
List of illustrations
1. Edens, islands and early empires
2. Indigenous knowledge and the significance of South-West India for Portuguese and Dutch constructions of tropical nature
3. The English and Dutch East India companies and the seventeenth-century environmental crisis in the colonies
4. Stephen Hales and some Newtonian antecedents of climatic environmentalism, 1700–1763
5. Protecting the climate of paradise: Pierre Poivre and the conservation of Mauritius under the ancien regime
6. Climate, conservation and Carib resistance: the British and the forests of the Eastern Caribbean, 1760–1800
7. The beginnings of global environmentalism: professional science, oceanic islands and the East India Company, 1768–1838
8. Diagnosing crisis: the East India Company medical services and the emergence of state conservationism in India, 1760–1857
Conclusion: the colonial state and the origins of western environmentalism
"Green Imperialism is a succinct yet richly nuanced study of the genealogy of European environmentalism [...]"
- Economic History Review