Technological Change in a Coastal New England Village, 1790-1990 -- The Duck Creek Harbor Site, Wellfleet, Massachusetts
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Environmental science is defined as the study of “how we and other species interact with one another and with the nonliving environment[,] . . . a physical and social science that integrates knowledge from a wide variety of disciplines . . . [to understand] how the parts of nature and human societies operate and interact” (Miller, Jr. 1998.) An important component of environmental science is the examination of technology, that applied science which employs process or invention or engineering to provide a society with the material objects of its civilization. The specific technologies which I consider in this unit include energy use (lighting devices), food handling and preservation (kitchen items), waste disposal (trash piles, chamber pots, and a “throw it in the creek” mentality), methods of transportation (carriage, railroad, sailing ship, steam ship, automobile), and those technologies more broadly encompassed in trade or commerce. The larger environmental problems which I anticipate will be introduced by this study and be given more indepth treatment as a spinoff of the unit include: (1) the nearextinction of the baleen whales of the North Atlantic (fin whales, humpback whales, and northern right whales); (2) the decimation of the Atlantic fishery; (3) the changing economic base of Cape Cod (its principal economies have been farming/agriculture, nearshore whaling, fishing and shellfishing, tourism, and the presentday development of a thriving art colony); (4) the changing size of Cape Cod’s population over time and the present period of significant increase in the building of retirement or second homes, and; (5) the human impact on marine, estuarine, and freshwater wetlands and upland communities since colonial times, including a progressive degradation of groundwater supplies.