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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
William and Mary Quarterly and the Early Modern Studies Institute invite paper proposals for a workshop on “Early American Environments.” The organizers are looking for proposals from a wide range of disciplines and methodological approaches. The geographic boundaries for acceptable proposals include not just North America and Mesoamerica but also environmental change at an oceanic or hemispheric scale. The conference will be held between May 19 and 20, 2017 at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. The workshop is aimed at mid-career scholars and graduate students who have not defended are ineligible. Travel and lodging will be covered. Those interested should submit an abstract, a brief methodological description (both 250 words), and a short c.v. to the conference website. The deadline for submissions is October 25, 2016. Click here to download a conference flyer with more detailed information.
Nicholas Cunigan, our newsletter editor, has just published the Summer 2016 issue of our quarterly Climate History Newsletter. This issue is our biggest yet, with conference information, feature articles, project abstracts, and (as always) a list of the latest scholarship in climate history. We also introduce the new faces in our growing leadership team.
Download the issue by clicking here.
In the Origins OSU podcast "Climate Change and Human Life," environmental historians Sam White, John Brooke, and Nicholas Breyfogle discuss what climate history can add to our understanding of anthropogenic climate change. White, Brooke, and Breyfogle discuss past patterns of climate change and debate the extent to which humans modified global climates prior to the onset of the industrial revolution. The three historians also address new directions in the field of climate history. Climate history has helped demonstrate that changes in climate and weather patterns have been a constant feature in the planet’s history and climate change has played an important role in human history. The field is now contributing in new ways to contemporary debates on climate change. For example, historians are starting to provide concrete instances of successful adaptation to climate change in the past. The podcast can be accessed by clicking here.