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tv   World War I the Environment  CSPAN  December 21, 2020 10:49am-11:44am EST

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featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span3. tonight from c-span's q&a series, historians talk about two of the most contentious presidential transitions in u.s. history. in 1861, between james buchanan and abraham lincoln, and in 1933, between herbert hoover and franklin roosevelt. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span3. tait keller talks about the diverse ecological impacts the first world war went across the globe. he explains how these went to european battlefields and
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included shifts in agricultural production. the national world war i museum hosted this e went and provided the video. >> and provided the video. >> it is my honor to introduce dr. tait keller. he is a professor of history who researches the evolving relationship between states and country in teams of conflict. he has received fellowships, and the national endowment for the humanities to only name a few, and, has given lextures in africa, india, turkey, across europe, and soon, kansas city. not a bad line up. he is author of "apostle of the
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alps" and recently finished "environmental histories of the first world war" and as a first for a museum in memorial speaker, he is a national certified instructor so when you ask those questions make sure they do have a question mark at the end of them. now without further adieu, please help me in welcoming dr. tait keller. [ applause ] >> good evening, everyone. i'm so thrilled to be here and happy that you could be here this evening. i'm going to talk about my current research which is the global environmental history of the first world war and i'm else specially interested in energy geopolitics that linked the battlelines with the home fronts
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with industry in ways that shaped the 20th century. i'll talk a little today about the main battlefields that we're probably familiar with and thenly hop, skip, and jump around the globe to point out other areas where we may not necessarily think of the war that had an incredibly profound environmental impact. t in the 1914, these came together in ways that were incredibly destructive. we might first think of battlefields when someone mentions an environmental history of the war, and of course soldiers did change the environment on every battle front. military planners certainly took the environmental into account. here we see british soldiers
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dealing with the belgium mud. also with that rainy climate. rats, if you read "all quiet on the western front" you know the battles with rats, lice, and disease. here is another group of soldiers dealing with the mess p sun. that sfurnace like setting was hot bed for disease. they called it the baghdad boils. i have no idea what they are, but it sounds awful. here again we see a group of english soldiers, and they're dealing in africa, mostly confronting disease, the jungle setting, also having to contend
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with wild animal attacks. lions and elephants. there was fighting in the alps. they had to deal with frostbite, hyperthe hyperthermia, and depression. something that most soldiers probably had to contend. armies did alter ecosystems at every war front. it accelerated changes that had started in the previous century. let me give you a few examples of that. the most pressing problem for solds -- soldiers in mesopotamia. the plains would flood in the
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spring snow melt. water would swell, the rivers and lakes below that burst their banks. to prevent wholesale inundation, they piled hapeaps of loose dir on the baengs but in bad floods that were not very effective. they would use dams, change water flows, and redirect the course of rivers. the mobilization of armies on the alps had a massive expanse of roads, railways, and of electricity like we see here. gorilla warfare in africa like wide expanded infrastructure with roads and railways, but
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nowhere was the concentration of forces so great as on the western front where the stalemate stewarded ecological upheaval. there they are struggling across no man's land. scenes like this of utter devastation ruined landscapes that were pitted and accurated with craters and trenches. and now they have a lethal sub strata of soil and are making their way back to the surface if is pretty typical for changers to unearth these relics. many are still dangerous. they will collect them and set them by the side of the road,
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and then people in the government will come pick them up. i had a chance to meet with belgium and french deminers in the summer. they took me to a -- they have to after what the shell is. is it still live they still maim and murder, they call it the iron harvest. o o indicationally they will explode. . the shells are so saturated on the grond in some regions that authorities have designated the red zones.
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cultivation. tournament, tourism, and human has been station. we can traces. they lead to different there is a few images of this and this is taken from the philanders field museum. that is pretty incredible. destruction on the western front dominates scholarship on the wars. but if we extend our gaze beyond the front lilines, major dang w
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relatively short lived. we look here, here is a picture of the men in road. very famous path that went from france and belgium. paul gnasnash. one of the war artists, but if we were to travel what i found is that greater environmental change occurred behind the lines away from the killing fields. the lands that suffered the most so to maintain the buy logical
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welfare of sold juries, they congressmen deered resources throughout the wars and the environmental footprint. okay, so coal, coal was a principal source of industrial energy in 1914. so to off set. they are instructing citizens on the best amount of coal that they can burn. many places said, especially here in the united states, especially here in great britain, don't burn coal, it is mass i have tinder extraction that is going on. the need for timber taxed reserves around the world.
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it did so in an uneven fashion. great britain faced an acute timber crisis cutting down nearly half of it's productive forests. they lowered the cost of imports, and we became leading timber exports. so we find that french and jer plan stands worked pretty well and the germans took trees from other countries. we think about these devastated landscapes and how similar it
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looks to these war torn regions. all kinds of propaganda. it is a maybe profrgs that now had a gender identity switch. here this is an issue from the woman's land army and great brit inwhere women were sent out to chop down trees. the u.s. established forestry core as part of their military. which did most of the heavy cutting in france. timber was crucial for the conflict. you needed it for everything from building walls, holding up
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the trenches, in the coal pits. so this was just accelerating the deforestation that is happening. places like southeastern united states, or in the northwest, and they saw clear cut patches, it ri minded them a great deal of the western front. there was then a discussion that took place about the war about the need for some sort of forestry policy. so we find a 1919 even the united states, and also in great britain there is a creation of forestry policy in order to create sustainable force ri practices in the name of national security. property aggression of the war, hour, accentuated the importance of petroleum. at that time it was the united states and mexico that supplied more than 80% of the world's pe control yum. most of that is coming out of
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california, but a fair amount is coming out along. to drill for crew there companies had to remove man gropes, drain swamps, all along the coast. they would dig these deep pits to hold the petroleum, but it disturbed the soil in ways that phil mickelsoned shelling on the western front. the petroleum that is coming out here was contained high levels of hydrogen sulfides. they devastate lands that have not quite recoved. in great brit therein is a great deal of concern on foreign oil.
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u.s. oil, and it was driving ambitions. one of the reasons we saw british troops there in the desert particularly in baghdad in provinces of the ottoman empire is the brit irk wanted to control the newly discovered oil fields in that region. food scarcity was a defining feature of the war. countries blockaded, germany, austria, hundred ggary faced regulations. it's not surprising that germany lost. what is shocking is that it sustained over 1 president 7 million soldiers on multiple
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fronts for over four years as long as it did. germany's defeat revealed the ecological constraints of waging war. germans imported around 25% of their food including eggs, dairy, vegetables. and high agricultural yields relies on nitrates. and it followed germaning a cultural production and it plummeted. there is a it is that we're
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surrounds and we will mobilize the last potato. separate to increase agricultural production, germans blowed up churchyards, they p w plowed up school grounds, forest glades, they even flplowed up t soccer fields. german clubs went crazy. think of the children, didn't work, they plowed them up. we find that food shortages exacerbated tensions in cities that come baned that the parks and luxury gardens. they wanted to create a really
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vibrant black market. regulations did control every phase of agricultural production. but often it was bureaucratic clumsiness or short sited policy that resulted in food shortages. they had the great pig pamassac with over nine million victims. there was a glut of pork, but did nothing to alleviate the grain shortage. more detrimental was the bigs with a balance between the humans and the natural world, they were consumers of foder and great producers of fertilizer. and their departure had dire
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long-term consequences. regulations proved ineffective in the face of disaster. and in 1915 a locust plague of biblical proportions exacerbated a famen in greater proportion. the insects tripped vineyards, croplands, and orchards. food markets were bare. we know how dire it was because jerusalem lacked enough olive oil to light the temp thes. here is a before and after picture for us. a nice olive tree, the next day after the locuses. people resorted to eating roasted locuses and burning the husks. rather than enforce food rationing, countries in europe,
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the u.s. food administrator encouraged citizens to eat less with the slogan food will win the war. we see up with of many propaganda posts. the government issued all kinds of pamphlets encouraging people to save food, maybe dry food. here is the best way there is something delightful like dried carrots and something delicious. they conceded that some flavor might be lost in the drying, but so much remained. most people were not being fooled like this.
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they were not keen on dry dishes, but they did practice other forms of self restraint. hoover called on patriotic americans to participate in meatless mondays or wheatless wednesdays, and it worked. all kinds of pamphlets like this a way to say. the writing might be hard to save. this is the patriot's fruit tree, but this is wasted fruit, rotting fruit, not patriotic. this is directed a lot towards housewives and producers. saving that food. or different ways to prepare your meals, fats are fuel for fighters. there was the creation of a number of agencies in this war to all of them to regulation or
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somehow direct these resources. one of them was the national war guarding commission. it encouraged, and we see these in most countries, the cultivation of homegardens anywhere you can. backyards, vacant lots, company land, school grounds. by 1917 the commission reported the cultivation of nearly three million gardens, these numbers may be inflated, but it still was pretty telling by the end of the war nearly 25% of american households had what were popularly called war gardens. here we see school children in rescienceer acce recess putting those kids to work. there they are, plants peas. just as the germans were plowing up soccer fields, you know the
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war has comb home when they plow up the little league fields. here we have bump u pumpkins, poe day days, charging over the top. the farmer has become a soldier, but not a rivafle, a hoe. will you have a part in history? i write this out because even as the war massively expanded patterns of exploitation, it also set standards for conservation. but the incentives were large. to help do that in the united states, they dwarn teed wheat prices over the top were very
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high. the harvests created beau than in ga farms. they borrowed heavily to breaked so on what were usually marginal lands. most of this was done across the prairies that were suited for gas it is now the costs. what we find after the war is the environmental and economic consequences of that distorted krurlt production were severe. it was win a few years.
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it is a command for american produce that evaporated. on drtop of the drought, the grn prices plummeted by 50% which created pretty serious liquidity problems for farmers. it left hundreds of thousands destitute and we find that forclosure rates hit record numbers, the likes of which we have not seen sense. okay, i will take you somewhere else now. the situation was even worse in africa. what we find in sfrik that energy deficits and massive population displacement created famine conditions. a little bit up in british east africa, kenya, a little down in
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portuguese, there was fighting elsewhere, but those are done by 1915. here is lasted the entire time and it was gorilla fighting. now since pack animals fell pray by the thousands to a fly, the vector that transferred the parasite that causes sleeping sickness, it meant that european forces relied on energy bodies as energy reserves. both sighs carried out their campaigns on the backs of africans. the british recruited over a million porters from their military campaign and they were drawn from africa. pursuing the germans required at least two or three african-american carriers for every british soldiers. and european officers office
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viewed their recruits or conscripts as a tactical advantage. what we find cwith a closer loo is a high death rate for african-american recruits. higher than there were for british or german soldiers. food shortages is one explanation for the food disparity. foot shortages plagued most of the friend continent. . soaring food prices compounded with limited production. the groups would seize cattle, cattle grazing in pastureland
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pushed the flies back into the bush and it decreased sleeping sickness. the decrease of livestock, cows were easy pray for old lazy lions, and what we found is with all of those cows the lions were looking for people instead. people would desert villages for safer places and this is allowing the bush to recove and those fly numbers to swell. poor weather and blight ruined harvests. there was laws that restricted the firearms an am md ammunitio. it also meant ecological
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disallocation. here we find another image further into belgium congo. i'm going to skip across now and take us other to latin america. hardly anyone thinking at latin america in this war, but it played a pivotal control. south american neutrals negle neglected fuelled them in the european war like mexico, argentina, or chile. that was in sodium nitrate. they had a mo nnopoly over nitre of sodiumate.
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it accelerated the processes that would exhaust the nitrate deposits and it reviewed the systemic fiscal weaknesses and labor and capital. chile's main trading partner was germany. it limited chile to severe depression. there is little you could do other than mine nitrate. they're arrival there exacerbated dire conditions. only with the economic recovery of 1915. prevented total social mayhem. but at the same time that this is happening, scientists in germany, chiles's former main
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trading partner developed a process of nitrogen fixation that doomed the industry. across the way in the pampas, this was argue tee inverage arg food rich supply. they supplied over 40% of britic it domestic meat on consumption. south america's relationship with great britain was often seen or viewed in a negative light. they were labelled as informal empire that is to say the south
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american economies were dependent on european whims. but be if you view a larger exchange there is a different view. meat and wheat gave argentina an advantage. it needed imported cheap imported coal for it's industrial county it found it could get coal elsewhere. so argentina simply decided to get coal from the united states instead of great britain. so from an emergency perspective great britain was as dependent on argentina for food as argentina was reliant on great britain for coal. so they created mutually done
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balances. the last place that i will take you today cuba. cuba was part of the war effort. it was a importer of food stuff. it was fertile, but it grew cash crops instead. and as part of the war effort, the cuban government sought to enlist the support of the owners of those great sugar plantations, called sugar centrals who could use some of their land to use their farmers to plant food crops. but the thing of it is is that european sugar beat production in the war raised sugar prices that drove plantation expanse at the expense of food crops. the cuban government is issuing all of these proclamations to people, eat beans and bananas
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instead, not so much wheat, but sug sugar cane plantations meant wealth and foreign control over wealth. over the 130 sugar plantations on the island, americans owned well over half of those. so impoverished peasants in 1917 stoo started to express their resentments. in response the united states deployed the marines to calm the cue pan country side. they were sent there to protect the plantations in the sugar intervention.
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all of this thinking about what was mapping made me think about what the close comparison that's are happening, for example on the western front, and the question is what is a war landscape? let me introduce you to kirk. he wrote a pamphlet called "war landscapes" and he talked about battlefields. he came to the con delusion there are war landscapes and peace landscapes. and peace landscapes in our mind appeared round and boundless. war landscapes on the other hand were directed, contained, and boarded by violence and
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destruction. a psychological analysis we find that the border between a war landscape and a peace landscape overlaps or van itishes entirel. here is our war landlandscape. how different is it from a young boy looking out over these eroded lands in the american prairies. how different is it from these lumber jacks that we're seeing. here we find french soldiers under fire on the western front. and mexican oil workers there along the coast. crossing these landscapes created unease in less obvious ways. they open and closed frontiers.
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some of these efforts are linked to empire building agendas, others part of capitalist tick sche capitali capitalistic schemes. europe met it's demands through the colonial landscapes have needs to extend control over frontier lands and the indigenous populations. what war is doing is reinforcing project that's began in the 19th century through disposition, b subdigation. they brought their own violence, that turned posed peace lands
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into war lands. the legacy of that violence continued long after the fighting ended. the first world war is contemporary. we live with the environmental consequences of the conflict even now. thank you all so much. i ended with plenty of time to take any questions that you might have. folks, as a reminder there is mics on either side of the teenage and if you're unable, i will come to you. >> i know, it's a lot to take in. >> i was interested in the fact that a lot of the trench warfare was in an area that, in france
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at least, was heavily vineyards. how much was destroyed, and how quickly could that recover? wine, vineyards, a lot of times depend on old vines that have been around for decades, to actually made good mature wine. i was just wondering about that being a big industry for france, what is the effect there? >> even for the fighting ended, the french government came up with plans for recoko recuperat those lands. there was efforts to preserve some of those vines as much as they could. so we find that happening. there was a dip in that production, but it ended up being able to recove relatively quickly. so that by the late 1920s we
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find that most of those vineyards are back up and running. there is actually complaints i have veteran organizations that would lead tours for former soldiers to go back and visit their old places of combat and they were saying you need to trim back so we can get to the trenches and where they used to be. >> how did you come to this topic, you said there is a environmental impact. >> i first came to this and it
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was about mountaineering. it was very start how they would see it as so terrible for the landscape. the alps were imagined as a pristine place. there you can still find nature and tact. they were the anti-mode for dirty, fill think cities. as i was writing that i thought it was very interesting. i should look to see what is twoing on with the environmental legacies of this conflict. there is a little done on the western front, but not much else elsewhere. so that is kind of what lead me to it and in one of these fortuitous moments, as i started out this project i had no idea how i was going to do it.
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i first did research in the archive that's are still intact military records from the war. the sheep and the wool for uniforms, i was like i don't know. as we talked about it we decided to kind of narrow it down a little bit. and that is when, you know, a little bit, looking at agriculture as energy to keep people moving and fighting and i thought well this is one way to approve it. that's how i came to it. yeah. >> so with a of this, i don't want to say destruction, but new
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stuff happening, is there areas that were not normal? >> what we find happening is there is some changes taking place, like in the war torn areas, and soldiers are noting this. they're noting that what had once been beautiful land or forest is now torn up and is being taken over by weeds. and for example, they talk about this in the book "storm of steal. what is interesting is that if you were a french economist you saw what was happening there and a little bit of a god send because it was destroying these old prott lines if was o brit rating ownership records. they can get out of their farming when finally get into
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the modern age. but there is a massive push, of course there was, on a the part of local towns and state governments to return things as fast as they could before the war. but that is what we see happening there. thanks. >> i have a couple questions -- the first is that you talked about the british blockjrade. and it was interesting that you talked about all of these different resource sites, so i was curious if you researched or
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articulated a perception of what that cost ufs to tof the mercha. some food going down to the floor and in terms of the wrn front, they're not cultivated, and i'm curious about the scale for where those might be. >> yeah, i will take the red zones first. they are all located with whatted that been, you might think about ten miles or so within that western front. there has been a great deal of work to clear those lands. i don't want to call them extentative, but they're noticeable. the thing about them, you think
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about what makes a great nature reserve. well you kind of fence off the preserve, you have aboutation, weapons that once wrecked the land are now protecting it from human intervention. so these nature reserves now, the little results, what were otherwise highly developed places of agricultural inputs. so i want to call them extentative, but they're still there and they be there in our lifetime for sir. so that is really great, they say if we're not getting enough wheat maybe we need to turn to the oceans, but most marine ships had been conscripted by various navies. so if you were a marine in the world it wasn't all that profitable for you. you were usually operating at a
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loss. what we find is that when those navies had taken those ships, they then totally ret owe fitted them and improved them and when they got back at the end of the war it was better high poweredships and profits sky krokted. so that was interesting as well. >> our next question is from the audience. >> you mentioned it just briefly. i see you. i suppose no taxes were paid on the war and then you have all of the land, how did they restore the title to that. was there a government program to help restore the lands? >> there was, there was a couple
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government programs and it was clearing old ordinance. in part it was subsidizing farmers to recover properties, purchase product, and part was a host of researchers both on the local level so investigate old property claims, some of it went by word of mouth in a matter of honor that these with the property lines since time in memorial. and it became a really touchy subject. it was about whose land s whose, and especially when you put masterpieces in the mix. and they can consolidate. that's what was a lot of it was on the local level delivered after it was being supported by
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federal and state. >> in terms of energy throw, have you seen any difference between world war one and world war two. world war two is a whole new magnitude. i gave a talk once, a british war college, and they're like you could do your whole series on world war two, and i was like no, no, no, the first world war, for some of these states, it is the first time they're doing control prices, part private,
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and really, they fumbled and bumble bumbled and they're trying to get it to work. but it provided the knowledge for when the second world came around. it was done with such greater precision and effort that it is a whole different ball game. yeah. the first world war was, in some ways, it was that first performance where you get all of your jitters out. and the second world war they figured it out. >> our last question? >> thinking about the aerial photos where you can see the outline of the trenches, the trenches appear more green than the rest of the area, assuming that possibly the nitrates from
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explosives, what else would cause them to be more green? >> very little but you're right on that, those explosives were -- there was a difference between the first world war and the second. they were generally designs to explode on impact. so the explosives in the first world war are penetrating, getting down into levels of tratum. it is changing water levels, and what we're finding is that even though we are reconstituted and we changed bedrock levels, they're just able to get to that water source easier than plant
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that's are not otherwise -- it makes enough of a difference that we can visually see it. that's mostly what it is. thank you. >> thank you everyone for your questions and joining us here this evening. we hope you come back soon and another thank you to dr. ta tait keller. >> every weekend on c-span 3 explore our nature's pass created by the investigation companies as a public service. weeknights this month we're featuring american mistire tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight from c-span's q and a
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series, they talk about two of the most contentious presidential transitions in u.s. history. in 1861 between james bucanan and abraham lincoln. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern. it is every weekend on c-span 3. from washington the come baned radio and tv industry bringing you a report on the polio vaccine. to give you the highlights of that report, here now are the secretary of health, education, and welfare. and the surgeon general of the united states public


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