Posted by: lisaracz | October 11, 2010

Christopher Columbus – A traveling Environmentalist?

Christopher Columbus Holiday

Today is the day we celebrate the man who was a famous navigator, sea voyager and global explorer, known as Christopher Columbus, born a son of a weaver in Italy in the year 1451. Columbus Day has been celebrated since the colonial time and became a federal holiday in 1937 and is held the second week in October, the same day as Canada’s Thanks Giving Day.  Hawaii, South Dakota and Nevada does not recognize Columbus Day.

Columbus, like most environmental explorers, studied the earth and determined, as we now know, that the planet was round, which motivated Columbus to explore deeper into the matter by setting off on explorations, eventually discovering the ways of new worlds and environments. He was among the first Europeans to explore the Americas after the Vikings. 

Columbus was  big in studying our earths oceans and natural waterways. He participated in several  expeditions to Africa gaining knowledge of the Atlantic natural currents flowing east and west from the Canary Islands and learning of the natural wildlife that Africa has to offer.

Around 1492, Columbus and his crewmen sailed for approximately a months time, then finally set foot on an island known at the Bahamas to our present day. On that island, Columbus and his crew meet with friendly natives who traded and exchanged glass beads, cotton , parrots, and spears. They also found gold that the natives wore as decoration on this island environment.

In traveling to new places, Columbus discovered an array of plant types, edible and inedible, as well as diseases at a time where there was no antibiotics nor inoculations to stop the spread of simple illnesses to contagious diseases. Diseases, such as  Small pox from the Old World depleted many of the Native American population. Diseases affected both hemispheres, Europe and America.

Foods from the Americas such as potatoes, tomatoes and corn became major food staples of Europeans. Wheat from Old World Europe became a main food source for people in the Americas. Coffee was discovered in Africa and the sugar cane was found in Asia. All thanks to Christopher Columbus’ environmental travels and discoveries.

He traveled to several other lands such as,  Honduras in Central America and Venezuela.  Although historians for centuries disputed his skill as a navigator and he was  judged to be vain, ambitious and desirous of wealth, traditional historians viewed his voyages as the opening of the New World to Western civilization. One definite point of agreement among historians, and environmental interpreters is that Christopher Columbus’s  voyages were among the main turning points in history and with the environment. 

Christopher died May 20, 1506 at the age of 55 yet, to this day his expeditions set in motion the diverse discovery of people, plants, animals, diseases, cultures and a display of different types of natural environments around the globe, which led to general European awareness of the hemisphere . These discoveries greatly affected nearly every society on the planet by introducing earths variety to those who have not experienced this type of knowledge in  late 1400’s and early 1500’s.

For more accurate information on Christopher Columbus visit

Happy Columbus Day!

” The earth is under constant change and exploration of the environment has inspired us and given us knowlege throughout time.”


Lisa Racz

Lisa Racz

Lisa Racz – Environment Writer



  1. […] Lisa’s Environment Blog: Christopher Columbus – A traveling Environmentalist? […]

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