Public Release: 

Environmental history of the Second World War compiled into a book

University of Turku


IMAGE: This is The Long Shadows cover. view more 

Credit: Oregon State University Press

Researchers Simo Laakkonen and Timo Vuorisalo from the University of Turku, Finland, together with their colleague Richard Tucker from the University of Michigan, USA, have edited the first extensive summary with global perspectives on the environmental history of the Second World War.

The Long Shadows: A Global Environmental History of the Second World War was published by Oregon State University Press in April 2017.

The Second World War was beyond comparison in scale. It was a human tragedy that claimed 50-70 million lives. In addition, the war left deep scars in nature in the war zones, the home front and areas used by the armament industry.

- The Second World War contributed decisively to the birth of the current global environmental problems. On the other hand, it helped to raise concern over a possible apocalypse caused by humans, which also led to the activation of international environmental politics. This major war had a great impact on the development of both the modern environmental problems and the means to solve them during the Cold War era and later on. The war casts long shadows to this day, state Simo Laakkonen and Timo Vuorisalo.

The book has its roots partly in an earlier work by Laakkonen and Vuorisalo on the ecology of war published in Finnish in 2007, and partly in an international symposium they organised in 2012. In addition to the themes familiar from the earlier book, the recent publication explores the effects of the war-supporting infrastructure at the Arctic region, Indian subcontinent and the Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, it discusses the consequences of the procurement of raw materials used in warfare in Canada, Japan, Mexico and Caribbean Sea region, and the food crises caused by the war in Africa, Soviet Union and China.

Timo Vuorisalo is a University Lecturer of Environmental Sciences at the University of Turku, Finland, Simo Laakkonen is a University Lecturer of Landscape Studies at the University Consortium of Pori, Finland, and Richard Tucker is Adjunct Professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, the United States.


Simo Laakkonen, Richard P. Tucker and Timo Vuorisalo (eds), The Long Shadows: A Global Environmental History of the Second World War (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2017).

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