Science on Tap

A Philadelphia Science Café eat. drink. science.

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What’s on tap:

Monday, February 9, 2015
6 pm. Doors open at 5pm!
National Mechanics
22 S 3rd St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106

Guano Happens: An Illustrated History of Fertilizer in America

Why yes, this is a bag of fertilizer with legs running hand-in-hand with children.

Why yes, this is a bag of fertilizer with legs running hand-in-hand with children.

In late summer 2014, some 400,000 residents of Toledo, Ohio lost access to tap water because of a massive bloom of toxic cyanobacteria in Lake Erie.  Every summer, similar events occur in watersheds that drain regions where soils are saturated with chemical fertilizers on farms and lawns.  If humans are responsible for this annual toxic tide, why has it been so hard to stop it?  In this talk, Timothy Johnson will discuss the environmental history of chemical fertilizers in the United States, exploring topics as diverse as guano islands, explosives production, and comic books to show how fertilizers became an indispensable tool for farmers, in spite of the considerable costs they have incurred.

asset_upload_file262_86451Timothy Johnson is the Allington Dissertation Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation for 2014-15 and a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Georgia.  His research focuses on environmental and political history. Johnson’s dissertation is titled “Growth Industry: Unearthing the Origins of Fertilizer-Fueled Agriculture in America, 1865–1950.” The project investigates the chemicalization of American agriculture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

February’s Science on Tap event is hosted by the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

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