Weather Markets: Accounting for Climate in Early American Agri-business

In a blog post on, Dr. Josh MacFadyen of Arizona State University outlines how the Archer-Daniels Midland Linseed Company (ADM) made climate data into a commodity during the early 20th century. ADM provided reports for their customers detailing real-time weather conditions in major flax-producing areas in Canada, the northern U.S. plains, and Argentine Pampas. Because crop yields were most tied to weather conditions during summer months, this information helped ADM’s clients make purchases on the futures market – evidence that these commodity systems were more rooted in the natural world than some scholars have allowed. Notably, ADM’s climate data was collected and distributed independent of the growing network of meteorologists and climate scientists, suggesting that early private sector interest in climate data had a distinct history from early climate science.

See the full article here.

Call for Papers Our World of Water: Histories of the Hydrosphere November 4, 2017 | Georgetown University | Washington D.C.


Photo: Ganges River Delta, September 5, 2008 © National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The Department of History at Georgetown University invites paper proposals from graduate students for a one-day conference on water-related environmental histories. The conference seeks to bring together students who share common research interests in water and the environment. The conference aims to consider water-based histories in the broadest sense, welcoming proposals ranging from irrigation to ocean basins, anywhere in the world and at any time period. Submissions are welcome from students working in any discipline, so long as their work involves change over time, humans, and water. Accepted proposals will be grouped into three moderated panels, each followed by a roundtable discussion between presenters, commentators, and the audience. The conference aims to serve as an intensive training session for participating students to present and receive feedback on their ongoing work (e.g. dissertation chapters and journal articles) from senior scholars and faculty members.


Application Process and Deadlines

Interested students should submit an abstract (up to 300 words) along with a brief curriculum vitae to Matthew Johnson ( by June 30, 2017. Successful applicants will be notified by early July and asked to submit a full version of their papers (between ten and thirty pages) for pre-circulation to conference attendees and commentators by September 23.


Additional Information

Georgetown University will cover the costs of hotel accommodation (two nights) for admitted applicants for the duration of the conference. Attendees are expected to cover their own transportation and other travel related expenses. However, admitted students can choose to substitute their accommodation coverage for a $200 reimbursement towards transportation costs.  


For updates and information on last year’s conference please visit our website (

Climate History Network Meeting at the PAGES OSM

Past Global Changes (PAGES) has given us a time and place for a side meeting at the upcoming Open Science Meeting (OSM) in Zaragoza.  We'll discuss the Climate History Network's current work and plans for new events and initiatives.  The meeting should be fast and informal, so please come by to share your ideas (or just let us know we're doing a great job)!

Saturday 13 May, 9:00-10:00am, Room 11

Auditorio de Zaragoza

Eduardo Ibarra, 3, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain

For more information:


AHA Perspectives on History: Historians on Climate Change and the Anthropocene

Sadie Bergen has written an engaging reflection on the field of climate history and its relationship to current debates about global climate change. Drawing on interviews from some of the leading scholars in the field, she points to two ways in which climate historians can contribute to current debates about climate change. First, because climate historians are familiar with the vocabulary of climate science, they are well positioned to communicate across sub-disciplines and with the public. Bergen points to discussions about the Anthropocene, a debated geologic epoch, as a concrete example of how climate historians can contribute to such conversations.  Secondly, climate historians can help ground climate change in people’s daily experiences.  Historians can highlight how past communities adapted or responded to extreme weather events. Click here to read the full article.

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.