Berrett Koehler Publishers (22)
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6 Online Technology and Life

Wadhwa, Vivek; Salkever, Alex Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Are the many discouraging indicators, such as increasing depression and suicide and skyrocketing obesity, actually arising from our use of screen technologies? Clearly, these technologies cannot be the only factor, but in this chapter we look at how our omnipresent screens may be impairing our sleep and undermining other basic pillars of health and entailing a cascade of major compromises of our physical and mental states.

As we were writing this book, many of the tech industry’s most prominent members, troubled by the addictive and destructive behaviors that they perceive social media, mobile phones, and other technologies to intentionally foster, began offering serious criticism of the industry. They include former senior executives at Facebook, Google, and other prominent companies. Among the loudest and most insistent was Roger McNamee (whom we later asked to write the foreword to this book). Roger has been investing in technology companies, such as Facebook, for three decades, and introduced Sheryl Sandberg, its present chief operating officer, to its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. From his seat at the table, McNamee has one of the longest perspectives on how the industry is affecting us and our world. In a Guardian interview in October 2017, he pointed out the underlying conundrum: “The people who run Facebook and Google are good people, whose well-intentioned strategies have led to horrific unintended consequences. The problem is that there is nothing the companies can do to address the harm unless they abandon their current advertising models.”1

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9 A Personal Epilogue

Wadhwa, Vivek; Salkever, Alex Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Almost immediately after we pitched this book to our publishers, criticism broke out about the business practices, ethics, and values of the big technology companies. In August 2017, sociologist Jean Twenge published her book iGen, which examines how teenagers are growing up with technology dominating their lives while being completely unprepared for adulthood.1 Her September 2017 article in The Atlantic, discussed in chapter 6, sparked a firestorm of commentary and criticism. Former New Republic editor Franklin Foer published World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech in September 2017, a polemic that criticizes Google, Facebook, and other tech giants for what he regards as soulless monopolism that seeks to understand every facet of our identities and influence every decision of our lives for profit.2 In a blog post titled “Hard questions: Is spending time on social media bad for us?” Facebook’s director of research, David Ginsberg, finally acknowledged that perhaps the social network was not so good for its users.3 (The eye-popping irony of the post was that the prescription to solve the problem was even more in-depth Facebook participation!)

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7 How Can We Make Technology Healthier for Humans?

Wadhwa, Vivek; Salkever, Alex Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In a well-known parable, a group of blind men encounters an elephant. Each man touches a different part of the elephant and receives very different tactile feedback. Their later descriptions of the elephant to each other disagree, though each individual’s description is accurate and captures one portion of the elephant: a tusk, a leg, an ear. Humans often have only partial information and struggle to understand the feelings and observations of others about the same problem or situation, even though those feelings and observations may be absolutely accurate and valid in that person’s context.

Though more multifaceted than our perceptions of an elephant, our relationships with technology are similar: Each of us experiences it differently. Each of us relates to technology in a unique, highly personal way. We lose or cede control, stability, and fulfillment in a million different ways. As Leo Tolstoy wrote in the novel Anna Karenina, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

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3 Online Technology and Love

Wadhwa, Vivek; Salkever, Alex Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We are living in the Tinder era, when a swipe is a terminal judgment taken in an instant upon scant information—at a rate of hundreds per hour. This is entirely new to humans—the appearance of an apparently endless choice of potential partners. Were it that simple! This chapter looks at how the Internet has changed our views of love, of romance, and even of ourselves.

Since the first civilizations, and across all cultures, humans have told stories about love. From Paris and Helen, to Romeo and Juliet, to Bonnie and Clyde, to Brangelina, lovers have captivated our imaginations, and love stories have become part of our cultural fabric. Very few of us can live happily without the love of others. The love of children and partner, of parents, and of friends: all contribute mightily to the richness of our existence.

In many ways, past technological revolutions have affected how we love. Universal schooling and the popularization of letter-writing made love letters a common vehicle of expression. Later, the camera allowed soldiers to exchange pictures with their wives and families and girlfriends. The telephone connected distant lovers and friends over twisted strands of copper wire.

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8 A Vision for a More Humane Tech

Wadhwa, Vivek; Salkever, Alex Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Imagine that your smartphone had a pause button that would stop all buzzing and notifications for multiples of fifteen minutes and clear your home screen to leave nothing on it except for a clock—and that you could block all incoming messages by pushing a single button on the phone. You might say that your phone already does that with its Do Not Disturb (DND) mode, but DND requires quite a bit of management in its present state, and when the DND period ends, you get a rush of notifications, followed by newly arriving notifications. What if you could program the phone to send you notifications only on the hour, in regular batches?

In fact, someone has already invented a phone like that. It’s named “Siempo,” and it was designed by a team from the ground up to encourage more conscious, thoughtful use of applications and technology, and to return to users control over their lives. Siempo calls the device the “phone for humans.”1 Siempo was launched on Kickstarter in March 2017, and it raised only a fraction of its goal of $500,000. Sadly, the market did not fully validate what Siempo was offering.

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Cab International (154)
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SECTION III: NATURAL ENEMIES OF NEMATODES

Stirling, G.R. CAB International PDF

5

Nematophagous Fungi and Oomycetes

Of all the natural enemies of nematodes, the nematophagous fungi are the most diverse. They are found in many different taxonomic groups within the fungal kingdom, and use a variety of mechanisms to capture and kill nematodes. Hundreds of species have been described, and this chapter makes no attempt to cover them all. Instead, it focuses on the most widely studied groups, discusses how they parasitize or prey on nematodes, and reflects on the ecological characteristics most likely to affect their capacity to suppress nematode populations. Further general information on this group of fungi can be found in Barron (1977), Gray (1987, 1988),

Morgan-Jones and Rodriguez-Kabana (1988),

Jansson and Nordbring-Hertz (1988),

Siddiqui and Mahmood (1996), Chen and

Dickson (2004a) and Nordbring-Hertz et al.

(2006).

One issue that impacts on any discussion of the nematophagous fungi is the many taxonomic changes that have occurred in the last

15 years. DNA analysis is now used routinely in fungal systematics, and the results of such analyses have often challenged historical groupings of species at the genus level, which were previously based on morphology. A list of fungal names, together with commonly

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SECTION VI: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, PRACTICAL GUIDELINES AND FUTURE RESEARCH

Stirling, G.R. CAB International PDF

13

Biological Control as a Component of Integrated Nematode Management:

The Way Forward

Plant-parasitic nematodes are important pests of agricultural crops and are generally managed by crop rotation, resistant cultivars or chemical nematicides, although a range of other tactics may be employed in some situations (see Table 11.2). Biological control is generally perceived as playing little or no role in current nematode-management programmes, largely because natural enemies are seen as constituents of products that are deployed in much the same way as chemical nematicides. This narrow view of biological control ignores the fact that: (i) the soils used for agriculture contain a vast array of natural enemies of nematodes; (ii) predacious or parasitic activity will be found in agricultural soils if attempts are made to detect it; (iii) nematode populations are always affected to some extent by the soil microfauna and fauna, as evidenced by the way nematode populations respond when their natural enemies are eliminated; and

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SECTION IV: PLANT–MICROBIAL SYMBIONT–NEMATODE INTERACTIONS

Stirling, G.R. CAB International PDF

8

Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi, Endophytic

Fungi, Bacterial Endophytes and Plant

Growth-promoting Rhizobacteria

Some plant-parasitic nematodes are aboveground parasites, but most obtain sustenance from roots and spend their entire lives below ground. Their root-feeding habit brings them into contact with a unique microbial environment that is quite different from the bulk soil mass. Between 25% and 40% of the energy captured by plants during photosynthesis is liberated as root exudates, and since the carbon compounds they contain are a rich source of nutrients for soil microorganisms, the root– soil interface (generally known as the rhizosphere) is by far the most microbially active zone in soil (see Chapter 2). It may seem surprising that plants would release a large proportion of their photosynthates into soil, but we now know that one of the reasons is to prime a defence system that provides protection from root-feeding herbivores. Large numbers of beneficial microorganisms utilize root exudates as a food source, and one of their functions is to interfere in some way with pests and pathogens of roots. Plants also have other ways of using soil microorganisms for their benefit. Some rhizosphere-inhabiting bacteria have plant growth-­promoting properties; certain bacteria and fungi live endophytically in root cells and play a role in plant defence mechanisms; and symbiotic relationships are established with bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi to provide plants with nitrogen and to aid nutrient uptake. Thus,

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SECTION I: SETTING THE SCENE

Stirling, G.R. CAB International PDF

1

Ecosystem Services and the Concept of

‘Integrated Soil Biology Management’

Plant-parasitic nematodes are important pests of most of the world’s crops. Estimates of crop loss usually range from 5% to 15%, but higher losses sometimes occur, and there are situations where nematodes are a major

­factor limiting the production of a particular crop. Although numerous methods are available to either reduce populations of plant-feeding nematodes or enable crops to better tolerate the damage they cause,

­biological control is generally perceived as playing little or no role in current nematode management programmes. This book will demonstrate that the regulatory mechan­ isms forming the basis of biological control are actually operating in many agricultural systems (although usually at sub-optimal

­ levels), and that their effectiveness can be enhanced through appropriate management.

It argues that modern agriculture must not only be highly productive, but also provide a full range of ecosystem services, including pest and disease suppression; and that this is achievable by incorporating practices into the farming system that increase and sequester carbon, enhance soil biological activity, minimize soil disturbance, improve soil health and ensure long-term sustainability.

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SECTION V: NATURAL SUPPRESSION AND INUNDATIVE BIOLOGICAL CONTROL

Stirling, G.R. CAB International PDF

9

Suppression of Nematodes and

Other Soilborne Pathogens with

Organic Amendments

Soilborne pathogens are an insidious problem in all agricultural crops. Numerous fungi, bacteria, oomycetes and nematodes debilitate root systems; cause wilt, root rot and dampingoff diseases; and are associated with poor growth, yield decline and replant problems.

In many crop production systems, losses from soilborne diseases are the norm, and preferred crops can only be grown successfully if specific management practices (e.g. crop rotations, disease-resistant varieties, soil fumigation) are implemented to limit damage.

However, there are also situations where disease severity is not as high as expected, given the prevailing environment and the level of disease in surrounding areas. Sometimes this is due to subtle variations in soil physical or chemical factors (e.g. sand or clay content, pH or nutrient status), but in other cases it is a biological phenomenon. In these situations, naturally occurring soil organisms interact in some way with the plant or pathogen and either protect the plant from disease, or minimize disease severity.

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Cabi (198)
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9: Soil Quality in Conservation Agriculture Production Systems (CAPS) of Rainfed, Sloping Land Farming in the Central Mid-hills Region of Nepal

Chan, C.; Fantle-Lepczyk, J. CABI PDF

9

Soil Quality in Conservation

Agriculture Production Systems

(CAPS) of Rainfed, Sloping Land

Farming in the Central Mid-hills

Region of Nepal

Susan Crow,1* Olivia Schubert,1 Bir Bahadur Tamang,2

Theodore Radovich,1 Bikash Paudel,1

Jacqueline Halbrendt1 and Keshab Thapa2

University of Hawaiʻi at Ma¯noa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA; 2Local Initiatives for

Biodiversity, Research, and Development (LI-BIRD), Pokhara, Nepal

1

9.1  Introduction

9.1.1  Nepal

Nepal is a populous country (30.4 million people) of small size (147,181 km2), with a growth rate of 1.35% per annum (NPHC, 2012; CIA, 2013). Agriculture is the main sector contributing to people’s livelihood and the national economy, and nearly three-quarters of the total population depends primarily on agriculture

(CSB, 1999). Nepal is landlocked on the southern slopes of the central Himalayas in South Asia. The topography, elevation, and climatic conditions of Nepal are all wide-ranging. The country is commonly divided into three ecological zones: mountains, hills, and lowland areas called terai (Khatri-Chhetri and Maharjan,

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1: A Brief History of Conservation Agriculture

Chan, C.; Fantle-Lepczyk, J. CABI PDF

1

A Brief History of Conservation

Agriculture

Travis Idol*

University of Hawai‘i at Maˉnoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

1.1  Introduction

“Conservation agriculture (CA) aims to achieve sustainable and profitable

­agriculture and subsequently aims at improved livelihoods of farmers through the application of the three CA principles: minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotations. CA holds tremendous potential for all sizes of farms and agro-ecological systems, but its adoption is perhaps most urgently required by smallholder farmers, especially those facing acute labour shortages. It is a way to combine profitable agricultural production with environmental concerns and sustainability and it has been proven to work in a variety of agroecological zones and farming systems. It is been perceived by practitioners as a valid tool for

Sustainable Land Management (SLM)” (FAO, 2014a).

This modern definition of conservation agriculture embodies almost a century of academic and public concern over the negative effects of agriculture on soils and other natural resources and a much longer recognition that the quality of these resources is essential for the sustainability of agricultural production and the well-being of the surrounding natural and human communities. The main culprit has been, and continues to be, the plowing of the soil. Tillage has been a part of the development of agriculture since its beginnings in North Africa, the

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12: Abiotic Stresses with Emphasis on Brassica juncea

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12 

Abiotic Stresses with Emphasis on Brassica juncea

D.K. Sharma,1* D. Kumar2 and P.C. Sharma1

ICAR-Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana, India;

2

ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

1

Introduction

Agricultural productivity is affected by a number of abiotic stresses. These may include deficit or excess water availability, flash floods, high salt levels in soil as well as in irrigation water and extreme temperatures.

In addition, mineral deficiency or toxicity is frequently encountered by plants in agricultural systems. In many cases, different abiotic stresses challenge plants in combination. For example, high temperatures and scarcity of water are commonly encountered in periods of drought and can be exacerbated by mineral toxicities that constrain root growth. Further, plants are also exposed to salinity, drought and frost-like conditions in combination in some of the cases. Higher plants have evolved multiple, interconnected strategies that enable them to survive abiotic stresses. However, these strategies are not well developed in most agricultural crops. Across a range of cropping systems around the world, abiotic stresses are estimated to reduce yields to less than half of that possible under ideal growing conditions. Traditional approaches to breeding crop plants with improved stress tolerance have so far met with limited success, in part because of the difficulty of breeding for

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6: Genomics of Brassica Oilseeds

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6

Genomics of Brassica Oilseeds

Venkatesh Bollina,1 Yogendra Khedikar,1 Wayne E. Clarke1,2 and Isobel A.P. Parkin1*

1

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon; 2Department of Plant Sciences,

University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Introduction

Brassica species are important for oilseed

­production worldwide and represent a significant agricultural commodity for a number of countries (http://www.fao.org). All brassica crops belong to tribe Brassiceae of the family

Brassicaceae. These are commonly known as mustards due to their natural production of high levels of the secondary metabolites glucosinolates, which contribute to the distinct pungent taste of the seed. In the 1970s breeding efforts to lower the levels of the perceived antinutritionals, glucosinolates and the long-chain saturated fatty acid, erucic acid, from Brassica napus (rapeseed) seed led to the development of the most widely grown and economically important brassica crop type, canola (Canadian oil low acid).

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10: Preferences for Conservation Agriculture in Developing Countries: a Case Study on the Tribal Societies of India and Nepal

Chan, C.; Fantle-Lepczyk, J. CABI PDF

10

Preferences for Conservation

Agriculture in Developing

Countries: a Case Study on the

Tribal Societies of India and

Nepal

Cynthia Lai,* Catherine Chan, Aliza Pradhan,

Bikash Paudel, Brinton Foy Reed and

Jacqueline Halbrendt

University of Hawaiʽi at Ma¯noa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

10.1  Introduction

In many agricultural regions of the world, farmers are experiencing the effects of climate change and its subsequent effects on soil productivity, which lead to reduced agricultural productivity (FAO, 2012). For smallholder subsistence farmers who reside in developing countries, the effects of climate change coupled with population pressures are of even greater impact, due to existing marginalized land conditions (i.e. poor soil fertility, moisture retention, and erosion), as well as lack of capital, institutional support, and access to resources and information (Lai et al., 2012a). With increasing population and decreasing land fertility, agricultural research in the 1960s and 1970s focused on agricultural intensification and increasing per capita food production (Conway and Barbier, 1990). The new technologies, innovations, and increased agricultural productivity that emerged from this period are recognized as the “Green Revolution”. Although the resulting chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and breeding programs for high-yielding varieties provided increased yields, the successes were short-lived, as they failed to provide sustainable solutions to existing land degradation and soil fertility problems, particularly for the smallholder subsistence farmer (Conway and Barbier, 1990).

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6 Commercialization Prospects

Koul, O. CABI PDF

6

Commercialization Prospects

Many extracts and individual allelochemicals from plant sources have given excellent results in laboratory conditions. In field situations, only a few are satisfactory alternatives to traditional pest management.

Chemical control usually involves broad-­ spectrum insecticides, and they have to be broad-spectrum by necessity, for they must sell in large enough amounts to accommodate financial development, research and marketing. The class of plant products is tested against one or a small group of insects attacking a specific crop. As a compound, if toxic, it could inhibit the feeding of one species, but for another it may be ineffective, or just an attractant or a growth inhibitor. Thus, replacement of a traditional chemical with a specific allelochemical will make pest management more expensive (Koul, 2008).

Over the past 20 years, domestic Chinese enterprises have invested considerable manpower and resources in developing botanical pesticides and they have achieved remarkable results. Compounds such as rotenone, martine, nicotine, toosendanin, veratridine, limonin, eucalyptol, and azadirachtin from the neem tree, have become registered products in China. Available statistics suggest that various plant-based pesticides are manufactured in 13 Chinese provinces and, overall, 43,000 varieties of plants are available

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5 Impact on Insect Natural Enemies

Koul, O. CABI PDF

5

Impact on Insect Natural Enemies

It is well known that, in any agricultural pest control, use of insecticides is common but they also cause several problems, such as the development of resistance in pest populations, environmental health hazards and even toxicity to the natural enemies of the pest. The reduction in natural enemy numbers by such hazardous insecticides may have serious implications for global crop production. An especially challenging issue is the emergence of new pests and the eruption of secondary pests. In fact, increase in secondary pests is generally due to the depletion of the natural enemies that are responsible for keeping pests below the level of economic loss (Fernandes et al., 2008). One strategy used to avoid such deleterious effects is applying selective insecticides with the lowest possible impact on the other components of the ecosystem; that is, those that have a low impact on natural enemies (Degrande et al.,

2002). One such approach in the recent past has been the use of plant toxins (Koul and

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4 Structure–Activity Relationships

Koul, O. CABI PDF

4

Structure–Activity Relationships

All major classes of secondary plant substances have biologically active compounds, especially among the higher oxidized metabolites. These compounds are structurally diverse and contribute to the defence of the plants. Insect toxins are examples of such biologically active substances which induce acute or chronic toxicity either temporarily or permanently; however, such compounds may or may not interfere with the behavioural physiology of an insect. One could expect specific quantitative structure–activity relationships (SAR) but there are several problems.

The overall picture from various evaluations shows that small structural variations can produce drastic changes in the activity profile of compounds. Various functional groups present in the active molecules, when examined critically, provide crucial information about the optimal relative stereochemistry required to stimulate the toxic action. However, analysis based on functionality and skeletal types suggests it is difficult to produce any generalization, albeit one can certainly discuss activity variations within a skeletal type. Analyses of structure–activity information within specific skeletal systems are discussed in this chapter to allow rational modification of readily available toxins to be made into potential insect toxins. However, specific insect antifeedants have not been considered in this chapter as the SARs of

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1 Introduction

Koul, O. CABI PDF

1

Introduction

The study of naturally occurring toxins found in plants, animals and microorganisms in the field of toxicology is termed as toxinology.

These natural toxins range from simple to complex molecules and are lethal. Many have been studied for years but have yet to be thoroughly described. There are many plant species that produce toxic compounds for their own defence. Hundreds of microorganisms produce toxins that cause toxicity in other living organisms. There are hundreds of toxins produced by marine flora and fauna.

Overall, with the introduction of modern scientific methods of research, our knowledge of insecticidal plants, microorganisms and marine flora and fauna has expanded vastly.

Such compounds were documented in our earlier volume Insecticides of Natural Origin

(Dev and Koul, 1997), but since then there has been an enormous addition to our knowledge of this subject. Therefore, in this book

I describe the natural toxins that are purely toxic to insects, i.e. excluding feeding deterrents discussed in another volume (Koul,

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3 Bioassays

Koul, O. CABI PDF

3

Bioassays

It is imperative to use standardized methods of testing for any bioactivity of a phytochemical, specifically when unknown new products are evaluated. According to Hurst

(1943) the fact that each component of a toxic compound may contribute towards gross toxicity restricts the usefulness of chemical assay as an index of toxicity. It is an invalid premise that the main purpose of any carrier solvent is to transmit the toxic compound to the insect in order to correlate chemical and biological tests, after which toxicant concentration is a limiting factor in biological activity. This assumption has been called a ‘standard’ protocol of insecticidal bioassays directed more towards arbitrary elimination of unknown variable factors than towards the fundamental causes of this variation. Bioassays against insects have been used for decades as a means of elucidating the activity of many chemical components.

The major goals achieved by using bioassay techniques are the determination of the roles of naturally occurring chemicals, the mechanism of resistance in crop plants and to find various insect control agents. As the aim of this book is to understand phytochemicals that are toxic to insects, it is imperative to know about certain fundamental requirements for such evaluations. The basic way of studying toxins is either to apply a product directly to the candidate insect body or

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Indiana University Press (32)
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2 Gunpowder Technology, 1490–1800

Jeremy Black Indiana University Press ePub

Edward Gibbon was to claim that gunpowder “effected a new revolution in the art of war and the history of mankind,”1 a view that was common in the eighteenth century and indeed both earlier and later.2 More recently, the widely repeated thesis of the early modern Military Revolution3 has focused renewed attention on the issue of gunpowder technology. Improved firepower and changing fortification design, it is argued, greatly influenced developments across much of the world and, more specifically, the West’s relationship with the rest of the world. In other work, I have questioned the thesis,4 but here, first, I want to draw attention to the changes that stemmed from the use of gunpowder.

Gunpowder weaponry developed first in China. We cannot be sure when it was invented, but a formula for the manufacture of gunpowder was possibly discovered in the ninth century, and effective metal-barreled weapons were produced in the twelfth century. Guns were differentiated into cannon and handguns by the fourteenth.

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6 Revolution, Transformation, and the Present

Jeremy Black Indiana University Press ePub

Modern military power is based upon technology, and technology is based upon computers. . . . We [the Soviet Union] will never be able to catch up with you [the United States] in modern arms until we have an economic revolution. And the question is whether we can have an economic revolution without a political revolution.

Nikolai Ogarkov, Chief of the Soviet General Staff, 1983, cited in the New York Times, August 20, 1992

The literature on recent, current, and future warfare is dominated by the language of change and modernization. As is the general pattern in modern culture, change and modernization are descriptive, prescriptive, and normative, being equated with improvement. Relative performance or promise is defined according to these emphases, as are the conflicts seen as worthy of attention by scholars, and therefore, in a circular sense, as contributing to their analyses. Such an approach to modernization, however, begs the question of what is a modern, let alone a more modern, style of military operations? This question is one of recurring relevance for military history and for understanding present and future situations, and thus links the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) discerned in the 1990s and 2000s to earlier episodes of what have been presented as military revolutions.

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4 The Internal Combustion Engine: The Technology of Decentralized Power, 1910–2013

Jeremy Black Indiana University Press ePub

Really a fearsome sight . . . The road was on a slope of the hill, and the tanks just crawled up the slope, up the right bank nose in air, down with a bump into the road and across it—almost perpendicularly up the left bank, and down with a bump behind it and so onward up the hill without a moment’s pause or hesitation.

B.W. Harvey and C. Fitzgerald, eds., Edward Heron-Allen’s Journal: The Great War: From Sussex Shore to Flanders Fields, 2002

Edward Heron-Allen’s account of British tanks crossing a road on October 16, 1918, as the Allies successfully advanced against the Germans on the western front in Belgium and France at the close of the First World War (1914–1918) ably described the subordination of terrain by the new weapon. Railways and roads might seem similar in that both provided routes along which troops, supplies, and firepower could be transported. However, there was also an important contrast. Trains could not leave railways and move cross-country. In contrast, road vehicles were able to leave roads provided the terrain was suitable. This capability brought a tremendous increase in mobility. That mobility was combined with firepower in the tank, a weapon that was to grip the imagination as a key example of the transforming character of new technology. The internal combustion engine also affected naval and air warfare.

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3 Firepower, Steamships, Railways, Telegraphs, Radio: Technologies of Killing, Logistics, Command, and Control, 1775–1945

Jeremy Black Indiana University Press ePub

The progress in the state of gunnery and steam navigation renders it necessary to reconsider from time to time the principles of attack and defence of coasts and harbours. Whatever improvements may be made in land batteries, their entire adequacy for the purpose of defence cannot be certain against the rapidity of steamers and the facility of their manoeuvring power . . . but they may be powerful in combination with . . . the floating batteries with their sides coated with thick iron plates.

Sir John Burgoyne (1782–1871), influential
British Inspector-General of Fortifications

Works on military technology commonly discuss the nineteenth century in terms of increased firepower, and especially so if the period is extended to include the First World War (1914–1918). This firepower was indeed important, whether provided by the minié bullet or steel artillery, the machine gun or recoil and recuperator artillery.1 The machine gun, an automatic repeating weapon, was a metaphor of the application of industry to war. The employment of the very workings of the machine for further effect was seen with the recoil energy of the Maxim gun, the use of barrel combustion gases by the Browning and Hotchkiss machine guns, and the way in which the Skoda’s breech was blown back by propellant gases.

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5 A New Sphere: Air Power, 1903–2013

Jeremy Black Indiana University Press ePub

Development in aircraft design and construction is rapid in these days.

British Ministerial Committee on Disarmament dealing with Air Defence, 1934

Air power is a key area of discussion when considering military technology. It provides examples of dramatic changes in capability and also links past and present with consideration of the future of warfare. Moreover, the nature, impact, and limitations of air power and warfare have been the subject of extensive analysis.1 Manned heavier-than-air flight, first officially achieved by the American Wright brothers in 1903, was a key instance of the enhancement of fighting capability through totally new technology. Flight, or at least the use of the air, had had an earlier role in warfare with balloons, which were used by the French for reconnaissance in the 1790s, but its capability was now transformed. Imaginative literature, such as that of the novelist H. G. Wells, had prepared commentators for the impact of powered, controlled flight. Science fiction possibly gave some inspiration as to how airships could be used, as in John Carter of Mars (1912). In 1908, Count Zeppelin’s LZ-4 airship had flown over 240 miles in 12 hours, leading to a marked revival of interest in airships, and in Britain in 1909 there was a scare about a possible attack by German airships.

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