Segments in this Video

Shifting Baselines (06:22)


Silver Donald Cameron introduces John Cumbler. Cumbler explains his transition from studying social and labor movements to environmental history; he recalls growing up in Cape Cod. Cameron and Cumbler discuss perceptions of a place in juxtaposition to its history.

Anthropocene Age (03:09)

Cameron and Cumbler discuss the shifting baseline for human impact on the planet; industrial activity has placed us in a new geological period. There are negative side effects to humanity's triumph over nature.

Environmental History of Cape Cod (05:01)

Cape Cod is a glacially deposited sand spit. Humans did not always significantly impact the ecosystem, but colonial land use practices depleted resources and collapsed industries. In the 20th century, economy turned to tourism, creating pollution and water use issues.

Growth and Sustainability (09:15)

Cameron and Cumbler discuss gentrification and depleted resources as consequences of a continually increasing population. Regulating growth and land use is problematic.

Influence of Wealth (03:47)

Cameron considers the rich class' tendency to waste land and resources. Cumbler describes the shift from inheriting competence to increasing riches.

Handling Crisis (05:01)

During the early 20th century, Cape Cod saw tourism as a solution to environmental destruction and depleted resources. Cumbler explains how the industry impacts the environment, specifically water quality.

Water Quality (03:34)

There is a single aquifer serving Cape Cod; tourism, military and land dump pollutants have created algae plumes. Labor is expensive on Cape Cod; chemicals are widely used instead.

Cape Cod Activism (08:01)

There has been an increase of environmental groups and commissions in Cape Cod. The organizations are involved in affordable housing, public spaces, and pollution and land use regulations. Cumbler and Cameron discuss protecting the Common Good over individual interests, and the need for increased education.

Marine Animal Rescue (03:03)

Beaching risks are high for whales and dolphins on Massachusetts' coast. Cumbler describes methods of saving the social creatures.

Creating Social Movements (07:52)

Cumbler describes the formation of various environmental and civil rights activist groups. He asserts that an activist's sense of justice carries over to other civil issues.

People and the Environment (04:05)

Cameron and Cumbler discuss human dependence on the ecosystem, and protecting life over profit. Cumbler explains the importance of understanding our history to protect ourselves in the future.

Epilogue and Credits (00:56)

Cameron reflects on his conversation with Cumbler and his attendance at an environmental law conference. He cites upcoming interviews.

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John Cumbler: Through the Lens of Environmental History

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
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3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This episode of The Green Interview features John Cumbler, an author and environmental historian whose studies explore the human impact on the natural world over long periods of time. Formerly a professor at the University of Louisville, Cumbler now lives on Cape Cod, where he serves as a trained rescuer of whales, dolphins and sea turtles. The most recent of his seven books is a 400-year environmental history of Cape Cod. He’s also an historian of social movements starting with the Abolitionists, who created the very first large altruistic social movement and tracing the way that the Abolitionist’s victory over slavery ultimately produced movements dedicated to women’s rights, worker’s rights, the right to a decent living, decent housing, and a healthy environment. These are stories about how we have done things wrong and also about how we’ve done things right. This is a history that we really need to know.

Length: 61 minutes

Item#: BVL154376

ISBN: 978-1-64481-090-3

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA.