By Peter Reed
Robert Angus Smith (1817-1884) used to be a Scottish chemist and a number one investigator into what got here to be referred to as 'acid rain'. This learn of his operating existence, contextualized via dialogue of his formative years, schooling, ideals, kin, pursuits and impacts sheds mild at the evolving figuring out of sanitary technological know-how through the 19th century. Born in Glasgow and first and foremost informed for a occupation within the Church of Scotland, Smith in its place went directly to examine chemistry in Germany less than Justus von Liebig. On his go back to Manchester within the 1840s, Smith's powerful Calvinist religion lead him to strengthen a robust drawback for the insanitary environmental stipulations in Manchester and different business cities in Britain. His appointment as Inspector of the Alkali management in 1863 enabled him to marry his social matters and his paintings as an analytical chemist, and this ebook explores his function as Inspector of the management from its inception via battles with chemical brands within the courts, to the fight to widen and tighten the regulatory framework as different destructive chemical nuisances grew to become identified. This research of Smith's existence and paintings offers an incredible heritage to the best way that 'chemical' got here to have such adverse connotations within the century prior to booklet of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. It additionally bargains a desirable perception into the altering panorama of British politics as rules and enforcement of the chemical industries got here to be visible as useful, and is vital examining for historians of technology, know-how and within the 19th century, in addition to environmental historians looking historical past context to the twentieth-century environmental hobbies.
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Extra info for Acid Rain and the Rise of the Environmental Chemist in Nineteenth-Century Britain
With Angus Smith’s investigations on town sanitation and sewage, and with his success in the Alkali Inspectorate working with industrialists to control pollution and enforce regulations, few were surprised when he was appointed as Inspector to work alongside the existing Inspector, Robert Rawlinson. This appointment as he approached the age of 60 was a major undertaking for Angus Smith, who was already carrying huge responsibility for the Alkali Inspectorate during a period when many legislative changes added to its responsibilities and accountability.
Nevertheless, displaying his usual fortitude, he remained resolutely determined to continue fulfilling the responsibilities associated with the two government inspector posts. Perhaps borne out of his childhood and his classical education, Angus Smith retained a restless mind, always open to an enquiry engaging his attention. This is shown most clearly in the range of topics forming his numerous contributions to the MLPS. While most papers are addressed to scientific and technical matters, as might be expected, many others show his wider interests, with papers on such diverse topics as: ‘On the history of the word “chemistry” or “chemia”’; ‘The eucalyptus near Rome’; ‘On vitrified forts’; ‘Ancient maps of Africa’; ‘On a remarkable fog in Iceland’.
Liebig was a seasoned traveller across Europe and overseas, and not daunted by the demands of travelling via York, Leeds and Manchester en route to Liverpool. In Manchester, Liebig’s host for a Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (London, 1798), p. 13. ‘Objects and Rules of the Association’, British Association Report, 1842, p. v. 14 15 See also Jack Morrell and Arnold Thackray, Gentlemen of Science: The Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Oxford, 1981).
Acid Rain and the Rise of the Environmental Chemist in Nineteenth-Century Britain by Peter Reed