Climate History Podcast Episode 6: Geoengineering and Atmospheric Science with James Fleming

In the sixth episode of the Climate History Podcast, Dr. Dagomar Degroot interviews one of the world's best-known historians of science: Dr. James Fleming, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Colby College. Professor Fleming is perhaps the leading historian of meteorology and climatology. He has degrees in astronomy, atmospheric science, and history, and he is the founder and first president of the International Commission on History of Meteorology. He is editor-in-chief of History of Meteorology, and he has written and reviewed for the IPCC. His extensive publications include Meteorology in America, 1800-1870 (Johns Hopkins, 1990), Historical Perspectives on Climate Change (Oxford, 1998), Fixing the Sky (Columbia, 2010), and most recently, Inventing Atmospheric Science (MIT, 2016).

In this episode, Professors Degroot and Fleming  discuss how a plane crash launched Fleming's career, the deep history and future prospects of geoengineering, and the birth of modern atmospheric science in the early twentieth century. Click here to listen.

The Uses of Environmental History - Rachel Carson Center Blog

The Rachel Carson Center’s blog Seeing the Woods has started a new series that explores the uses of environmental history. In the first post of the series, environmental historian John R. McNeill argues that we should be “as useful as we want to be.” That is, environmental historians should gear their work towards addressing contemporary environmental problems if they wish, but should not feel pressure to do so. According to McNeill, curiosity alone is a sufficient motive for engaging in environmental history. Click here to read the full article and to check in on future posts in the series.

The Little Ice Age and the Fall of Cahokia

The onset of the Little Ice Age around 1350 may have played a decisive role in bringing down cities in the Mississippi River Valley. Angus Chen's article on NPR summarizes the most recent research on Cahokia, a once bustling city 10 miles east of present-day St. Louis. Researchers have been using calcite deposits at nearby Martin Lake, Indiana, to create a record of rainfall patterns stretching back hundreds of years. This record indicates that the Little Ice Age brought with it drought to Cahokia and other cities east of the Mississippi. Drought, in turn, undermined corn production and caused a subsistence crisis for residents of Cahokia. Despite this recent research, scholars are not convinced that climate alone brought down Mississippian societies. Rather, it may have exacerbated ongoing social and political tensions.

Three Job Oppotunities for Climate Historians

Three job opportunities are available for climate historians. Two are postdoctoral researcher positions at the Irish Climate and Research Units (ICARUS), which is hosted by the Department of Geography at Maynooth University. The application deadline is Sunday, February 19, 2017. Click here for further details on these postdoctoral positions. The third job opportunity is Professor of Climate and/or Environmental History at the University of Oslo’s Department of Archaeology, Conservation, and History. The deadline for this application is Thursday, June 1, 2017. Click here for more details on this position.

CHN Statement on U.S. Executive Order and Climate Policy

The Climate History Network is an organization with more than 200 members in universities and governments around the world. As an international network dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, we are committed to the free flow of information and people. We celebrate the diversity of our members and recognize that all have an equal voice and deserve equal rights, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, physical abilities, sexual orientation, religion, or country of origin. We believe that these principles are essential not only to good scholarship, but also to a healthy democracy.  
We therefore join hundreds of scientific and humanistic societies in expressing our dismay at recent attempts to ban immigration to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries. We express our solidarity with colleagues from these countries, who make substantial contributions to scholarship within and beyond the United States. 
Furthermore, as scholars of climate change, we recognize that human greenhouse gas emissions are today responsible for a dramatic rise in global temperatures that will continue into the future and has already had severe consequences for people around the world. We urge politicians in the United States and around the world to recognize the existence of anthropogenic climate change, and to implement policies aimed at lowering carbon emissions.
We condemn policies that prohibit government scientists from freely communicating their findings to the public. We also express our concern at the removal of government websites that once shared the scientific consensus on climate change with the public. We call on the President and the Congress to safeguard climate research pursued by federal agencies in the United States, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

CHN Winter Newsletter Published

Nicholas Cunigan, our newsletter editor, has published the Winter 2016 issue of our quarterly Climate History Newsletter. This issue features good news about upcoming conferences and grants successes; updates on new articles and interviews; and of course our usual list of new publications in the field. 

Download the issue by clicking here.

Coral Reefs and Paleoclimatology

New research from coral samples confirms that ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) events have increased in both intensity and frequency throughout the twentieth century. Paleoclimatologist Kim Cobb, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and her team of researchers have been drilling coral samples in Kiribati and using them to build a historical record of ocean temperatures and rainfall patterns in the Pacific that stretches back 7,000 years. Such evidence forms the basis for Cobb’s forthcoming work, which argues that the size and frequency of ENSO events, although varying widely over past millennia, steadily increased during the twentieth century. Click here for the full article published by Hakai Magazine.