Steinburg Does It All

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Ted Steinburg’s all-encompassing book Down to Earth: Nature’s Roll in American History is a sweeping environmental history of America. This is worth pointing out as a merit because this is the first we’ve read with so broad a scope, seeking to include pretty much all of the themes we have examined in American environmental history thus far. I like how he begins the book with a geological history of the land spanning back to the formation of North America out of Pangaea, which shows how our landscape is made up of the same stuff as the other continents. This is also cool because Steinburg takes us from there to the BP oil spill.

I would agree with Manish that space is an important theme in both Steinburg’s work and in this course. We saw in Nature’s Metropolis how capitalism spawned the first skyscrapers in Chicago and annihilated space and time to increase efficiency. In Steinburg this has also come to include waste management, which is still an issue of space today (168).

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