ARBUTHNOT, John. An Essay Concerning the Effects of Air on Human Bodies. By John Arbuthnot, M. D. Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Edinburgh, a….

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Early thoughts on ecology

ARBUTHNOT, John. An Essay Concerning the Effects of Air on Human Bodies. By John Arbuthnot, M. D. Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Edinburgh, and of the Royal Society. Tonson. 1733

8vo. Contemporary calf recently rebacked, gilt double fillet to sides, spine with gilt raised bands and red morocco gilt lettering piece; ; pp. xi + [5] + 244, half title, rare original errata slip pasted on blank verso of contents leaf; previous owner's bookplate to front pastedown, very good.
First edition. John Arbuthnot (1667-1735) was a Scottish physician and scientist, a Fellow of the Royal Society, who took a deep professional interest on the medical effects of air pollution. He was particularly adamant that urban living was damaging to public health and was one of the first scientific writers to take a holistic approach in his observations of the environment: “In judging of the Constitution of the Air, many things besides the Weather ought to be observ'd: The Diseases of Vegetables and Brutes; in some Countries, the Silence of Grasshoppers; Want of Mellification in Bees; Desertion of Birds; Quantities of Insects; sulphureous Vapours; Mortality of Diseases commonly not dangerous; such things have been observ'd to be significant.” (p.213). This is a very early hint of the science of ecology.

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