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Chapter Twenty-six. The Global Ecological Reach of the United States: Exporting Capital and Importing Commodities

Richard P. Tucker

Subject History » Environmental History
Study of History » Historiography

Place World

Period 1000 - 1999

Key-Topics consumerism , nature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405156653.2010.00028.x


Environmental historians often face the task of mastering familiar subjects in political, social, economic and geographical history, and then extending them to their ecological consequences. The study of the global ecological impacts of American history is no exception, but it is only beginning. Many of the elements of that imperial story have been studied intensively, including diplomatic and military history, multinational corporations, and international investment and trade. Moreover, American domestic environmental history is a rapidly maturing field, as this volume attests. But the export of American capital, industrial technology, and corporate management to economic (plus a few political) dependencies in the tropical and subtropical world has caused transformations (often but not always degradations) of ecosystems very different from those that hosted Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans. American emigrants to the tropics packed their own cash, culture, and machines in their baggage. They looked for soil, sunshine, and rainfall to grow profitable crops for American markets, and they prospected for strategic resources – minerals and oil – to assure the growth and continuity of American power in the twentieth century. As for minerals and petroleum, the global competition between Europe and the United States for control of these non-renewable resources has been if anything ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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