What is the Climate History Network?
The Climate History Network (CHN) is an organization of scholars who reconstruct past climate changes and, often, identify how those changes affected human history. The CHN connects academics in many disciplines, from many countries. We encourage more collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching and research in climate history. We offer contacts and resources for professors, teachers, students, and interested lay people.
The CHN grew out of discussions on the H-Environment network in 2010. We currently have more than 150 members. We are part of the International Congress of Environmental History Organizations, and we hold regular meetings at the annual conferences of the American Society for Environmental History. We also host annual climate history workshops at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC. We are planning a major conference dedicated to past relationships between climate change and conflict.
Our programs are made possible through financial support provided by Georgetown University and the Georgetown Environment Initiative. Our listserv is hosted by Ohio State University. We do not have any political affiliation. Membership is free.
Why do we need a Climate History Network?
Anthropogenic global warming has increased public and scholarly interest in past climates. It has led researchers to create ever more detailed and accurate reconstructions of past climate changes. These reconstructions, in turn, allow other academics to find detailed connections between climate changes and human history. Taken together, this work provides fresh perspectives for our understanding of future climate changes and human responses.
Although climate reconstructions have a long history in the natural sciences, climate history is only now entering the mainstream of humanistic disciplines, such as history. It has recently entered into political discussions on climate change that aim at contextualizing present and future warming. In light of these developments within and beyond academia, many climate historians decided that they needed their own organization. This network grew out of those ambitions.
How to navigate this website
The "news" page features the news we consider to be most relevant to scholars of climate history. Most of this news consists of publication information, conference reports, calls for papers, updates, and other announcements. Pressing news updates and ideas are broadcast through our listserv. Our social media pages highlight additional news relevant to climate changes past, present, and future. Our "events" page contains announcements about meetings, workshops, and conferences hosted by the CHN.
Other pages offer extensive resources for teaching and research into climate history. Our "databases" page lists digital resources that can support research projects in climate history. Our teaching page includes climate history syllabi, and a set of interviews about teaching the environmental history of climate change. Our bibliography page links to an extensive, searchable climate history bibliography, hosted on Zotero. Our "links" page lists related networks and websites. Click on our "podcast" header to access the iTunes page for the Climate History Podcast, hosted by Dr. Dagomar Degroot. Our "members" page gives the email addresses, institutional affiliations, and research keywords of our international, multidisciplinary members. Finally, our "contact" page lets you send a message to our team. It includes a short form that you can fill out to become a member.
Our online presence is at the heart of everything we do, and we are always looking for more content. If you're interested in climate history, please consider volunteering.
Dr. Dagomar Degroot is the co-founder and co-director of the CHN. He is an assistant professor of environmental history at Georgetown University. In his published work, Dr. Degroot has explored examples of human resilience in the face of “natural” climatic fluctuations that predate the onset of global warming. He has written a forthcoming book that furnishes the first detailed analysis of relationships between climate change and the “Golden Age” of the Dutch Republic. His ongoing projects trace the human consequences of seventeenth-century Arctic cooling; investigate connections between climate change and early modern conflict; and identify how people have responded to environmental changes in outer space. Dr. Degroot is the founder of HistoricalClimatology.com, a website associated with the CHN that attracts more than 100,000 viewers annually.
Dr. Sam White is the co-founder and co-director of the CHN. He is an associate professor of environmental history at the Ohio State University. Dr. White is the author of The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2011), on the Little Ice Age in the Middle East. He has written articles and book chapters on everything from the history of pig breeds to the history of meteorology. He is currently writing a book (in contract with Harvard UP) on climate and extreme weather during the first European attempts to explore and colonize North America.
Bathsheba Demuth is the assistant director of the CHN and HistoricalClimatology.com. She is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studies the relationship between humans and the arctic environment, especially the links between ideology, economic development, and ecological change. Her current project is a comparative history of the Bering Straits region, from the 1850s until the fall of the Soviet Union. She is exploring how capitalist, and later communist, development strategies attempted to extract energy from the Seward and Chukchi peninsulas. These two halves of the Bering Straits share an ecological and geological context, one with limited solar gain and almost no fossil fuels, making them challenging for agriculture or industry. Both the United States and the governments of Russia, however, sought to exploit what energy did exist - in the bodies of whales, walrus, reindeer, and other species - and in the process fundamentally altered local ecosystems while participating in the large-scale use of carbon energy that has contributed to climate change across the arctic and the globe.
Nicholas Cunigan is the newsletter editor of the CHN. He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas and an adjunct professor of history at Calvin College. His broad research interests lie at the intersection of environmental, indigenous peoples, and Atlantic World history. His dissertation, "Mercurial Relations: Extreme Weather and Indigenous Resistance in the Dutch Atlantic, 1636-1645," investigates the impact of 17th century climatic changes on the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Dutch West India Company. Extreme weather events including heavy rains and desiccating droughts swept across the Americas during the peak of European colonialism affecting colonists and indigenous peoples alike. Cunigan argues that in the case of the Dutch West India Company, extreme weather events catalyzed a series of indigenous resistance movements against the Company in New Netherland, Curaçao, and Brazil between 1636-1645.
Matthew Johnson is the news editor of the CHN. He is a doctoral student in the environmental history program at Georgetown University. Among the many fascinating aspects of twentieth century environmental history Matthew is most interested in the ecological consequences of resource extraction. His specific research interests are in mining and dam-building in Latin America during the latter half of the twentieth century.
Katrin Kleemann is the social media editor of the CHN and HistoricalClimatology.com. She is a doctoral candidate in the Environment & Society doctoral program at the Rachel Carson Center of the LMU Munich, Germany, where she studies environmental history and geology. Katrin has a background in early modern history, history of science, and cultural anthropology. Her dissertation explores the impacts of the Icelandic Laki fissure eruption of 1783 on the northern hemisphere. She is particularly interested in how one single natural phenomenon can have multiple and far reaching consequences upon environment and society. In this context she is also interested in the contemporaries’ perceptions of extreme weather events, earthquakes, and volcanoes. Katrin also works as a research associate with the Environment & Society Portal, where she coordinates the Virtual Exhibitions and Arcadia, two peer-reviewed, born-digital online publications.