In the fourth episode of the Climate History Podcast environmental historians John R. McNeill and Dagomar Degroot of Georgetown University discuss the Anthropocene, a proposed geologic epoch distinguished by humanity’s profound alterations of Earth's environment. The concept is much debated and Professors McNeill and Degroot discuss contentious issues such as when the Anthropocene began, the concept’s value, and some criticisms that have been leveled at the proposed epoch. Click here to listen.
Nicholas Cunigan, our newsletter editor, has published the Fall 2016 issue of our quarterly Climate History Newsletter. This issue features a list of upcoming events - including our first at Georgetown University - and links to two new podcasts. It surveys our recent feature articles, member projects, and favorite online publications. It gives calls for papers and provides PAGES (Past Global Changes) updates. And of course: it features our regular list of new publications in climate history and historical climatology.
Download the issue by clicking here.
Environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth from Brown University presents new evidence on when and why the Thule migrated across the High Arctic. Archeologists in the twentieth century argued that the Thule, ancestors to contemporary Inuit and Inupiat groups, spread from the Bering Strait region across the Canadian Arctic into Greenland between 1000 and 1300. That this migration coincided with the Medieval Warm Period led archeologists to conclude that the Thule followed bowhead whales, whose range was thought to have expanded under the warming climate. Yet, Professor Demuth argues that climate was less of a stimulus for the Thule migration than previously thought. Radiocarbon dating from new archeological sites places the Thule migration well into the Medieval Warm Period, making it less likely that a changing climate was the cause. Furthermore, genetic tests from marine biologists indicate that whaling possibilities did not expand much during this period. There is not one answer alone that has emerged to explain the Thule migration, but climate change is no longer the stimulus that it was once thought to be. Click here for the full article.
Environmental historian Alan MacEachern from Western University has written a fascinating article clarifying recent debates about how the first human inhabitants of the Americas reached the continent. A series of recent article have amended the theory that the first people arrived in the Americas by walking from Siberia to North America across the Bering land bridge. These articles and the responses to them have led to claims that the Bering theory has been overturned altogether. Yet, MacEachern cautions that such claims are exaggerated. He argues that recent research has not overturned the notion that the earliest inhabitants of the Americas entered the continent through the Bering land bridge. Instead, new evidence simply suggests that the earliest inhabitants crossed in boats along the ice bridge rather than through an ice-free and habitable inland corridor. The full article and links to the research under discussion can be found here.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has published a short article about a past warming period and an associated rise in sea level. The article summarizes the work of a team of scientists led by Andrea Dutton at the University of Florida (Dutton et al., 2015). The authors argue that an interglacial warming period 125,000 years ago reduced the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, leading to a six to nine meter rise in sea level. Dutton and her research team used proxy data from coastline sediments and tiny marine organisms called foraminifera to determine the change in sea level. The authors argue this data will be instructive to scientists attempting to predict the effects of anthropogenic climate change. The full article can be found here.
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences has published a special issue titled “Climate Change, Extreme Events and Hazards in the Mediterranean Region.” This issue features 14 articles that cover a wide range of subjects associated with climate and extreme weather events in the Mediterranean. The journal is open access and the articles are available online. Click here to view the table of contents and to find links to download the articles.
Brepols Publishers is producing a new online open-access journal titled Journal for the History of Environment and Society (JHES). This new journal aims to publish high quality scholarship covering all aspects of environmental history, understood in its broadest sense. As such, submitted articles are expected to be accessible to a wide range of disciplines and subfields. The Journal’s geographic focus is Northwestern Europebut the editors are open to articles about environmental change in other areas. Indeed, JHES is giving special attention to transregional and international comparative articles. Article submissions should be sent to Professor Tim Soens (email@example.com) and should include an short abstract (80-130 words). Publication fees will be waived for the first 10 articles submitted to the 2017 volume. JHES accepts articles in English, French, or German but all abstracts must be written in English. Click here for more information and to view the Journal’s first volume.