Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe Essay

846 Words4 Pages
Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900, by ecological historian Alfred W. Crosby explores how “portmanteau biota”, helped Europeans to eradicate whole societies in the Neo-Europes (xv, 89). Crosby believes that temperate zones, climates similar to that of Europe, allowed European biota to thrive, which allowed for European expansion. Crosby discusses the Norse invasions and the Crusades as examples of how Europeans were not able to expand. Crosby claims that climate was crucial to European expansion because it allowed portmanteau biota to thrive. The strength in Crosby’s argument is that he introduces ecology as a crucial factor in European expansion. However, he forgets that without technology, ecological…show more content…
His argument makes sense but does not show that true power comes from technology. Without technology, Europeans could not have decimated millions of indigenous people because they would not have been able to travel to these new lands because without technology, biology only has a limited impact. It is seemingly possible that without technology the human race would succumb to disease. Crosby has cleverly pointed out that diseases, within the Neo-Europes, were left unchallenged. In the Middle East European diseases were not spread because as Crosby states, “[w]esterners often have died soon after arrival, and more often have failed to have children who have lived to maturity” (64). In the case of the crusades, Europeans were unable to thrive due to a host of problems with disease. The diseases they encountered in the Middle East were different from those found elsewhere. New diseases devastated European expansion efforts. Europeans discovered the secrets to immunity, through technology. However, disease also triumphed in the case of the Neo-Europes; European pathogens were foreign to the indigenous people of the Neo-Europes. The human race survived these pathogens, devised ways to cultivate crops, built ships, built weapons, and overcame ecological and biological barriers. Crosby, although mentions ships, agriculture, and technology at several points throughout the book, takes little regard to the effects they have

More about Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe Essay

Open Document