Guano Happens: An Illustrated History Of Fertilizer In America

Guano Happens:  An Illustrated History Of Fertilizer In America

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Late summer 2014 some 400,000 residents of Toledo, Ohio lost access to tap water because of a massive bloom of toxic cyanobacteria in Lake Erie. Every summer, similar events occur in watersheds that drain regions where soils are saturated with chemical fertilizers on farms and lawns. If humans are responsible for this annual toxic tide, why has it been so hard to stop it? In this talk, Timothy Johnson will discuss the environmental history of chemical fertilizers in the United States, exploring topics as diverse as guano islands, explosives production, and comic books to show how fertilizers became an indispensable tool for farmers, in spite of the considerable costs they have incurred. Timothy Johnson is the Allington Dissertation Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation for 2014-15 and a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Georgia. His research focuses on environmental and political history. Johnson’s dissertation is titled “Growth Industry: Unearthing the Origins of Fertilizer-Fueled Agriculture in America, 1865–1950.” The project investigates the chemicalization of American agriculture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This month Science on Tap event is hosted by Chemical Heritage Foundation Library, Museum, and Center for Scholars

By: Science on Tap - Philadelphia