Charles Lyell

The second volume of Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology (1832) is surprisingly modern in its consideration of biogeography, ecology, and the effect of humans on the natural world. The following is an assignment in which I used a surprising passage from the book.

Note: The volume contents shifted position in subsequent editions of Principles.

Write an essay that demonstrates how Charles Lyell's statement about human responsibility is borne out in the report on reducing salmonella in chickens. Due Tuesday, Marych 31, 1998

Please follow the customary format of an introductory paragraph, followed by a body drawn specifically from the readings, and finally a conclusion that refreshes my memory on your point. Then add a bibliography (only 2 items).

Burrow, Marian. 1998. "A new spray for chickens helps control Salmonella." New York Times, March 20, 1998. P. L A 12.

A new technique significantly reduces salmonella in chickens by providing protection that, before factory farming, was naturally transferred from a mother hen to her chicks, scientists announced yesterday. Etc.

Lyell, Charles. 1991. Principles of Geology, Volume II. [facsimile of first edition, 1832, John Murray, London] Univ. Chicago Pr., Chicago. 330 pp. P. 84 (Lyell's vocabulary is quite a challenge for students today):

Although we are but slightly acquainted, as yet, with the extent of our instrumentality in naturalizing species, yet the facts ascertained afford no small reason to suspect that the number which we introduce unintentionally, exceeds all those transported by design. Nor is it unnatural to suppose that the functions, which the inferior beings extirpated by man once discharged in the economy of nature, should devolve upon the human race. If we drive many birds of passage from different countries, we are probably required to fulfil their office of carrying seeds, eggs of fish, insects, molluscs, and other creatures, to distant regions; if we destroy quadrupeds, we must replace them, not merely as consumers of the animal and vegetable substances which they devoured, but as disseminators of plants, and of the inferior classes of the animal kingdom. We do not mean to insinuate that the same changes which man brings about, would have taken place by means of the agency of other species, but merely that he supersedes a certain number of agents, and so far as he disperses plants unintentionally, or against his will, his intervention is strictly analogous to that of the species so extirpated.

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Last updated 6 June 1998 (JHW)