Environment and Empire
European imperialism was extraordinarily far-reaching: a key global historical process of the last 500 years. It locked disparate human societies together over a wider area than any previous imperial expansion; it underpinned the repopulation of the Americas and Australasia; it was the precursor of globalization as we now understand it. Imperialism was inseparable from the history of global environmental change. Metropolitan countries sought raw materials of all kinds, from timber and furs to rubber and oil. They established sugar plantations that transformed island ecologies. Settlers introduced new methods of farming and displaced indigenous peoples. Colonial cities, many of which became great conurbations, fundamentally changed relationships between people and nature. Consumer cultures, the internal combustion engine, and pollution are now ubiquitous.