King’s College London has launched a new Masters programme in climate change, MA Climate Change: History, Culture, Society. The programme, aimed particularly at those with a humanities background, starts from the premise that since climate change has permeated all aspects of human life, it is no longer possibly to understand it through scientific and economic analysis. The MA therefore addresses the cultural dimensions of climate change, including questions such as ‘why does climate change provoke disagreement in society?’, ‘is the current IPCC framework the best way to address climate change?’, ‘what are the implications of the dominance of models within climate science?’, and ‘what can we learn from the long history of human-climate interactions?’. The programme is coordinated by Prof. Mike Hulme, founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and author of Why We Disagree About Climate Change.
For more information, please see the programme poster (here) or visit the website: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/geography/study/masters/cchcs/index.aspx
Note: originally posted on HistoricalClimatology.com.
This site explores interdisciplinary research into climate changes past, present, and future. Its articles express my conviction that diverse approaches, methodologies, and findings can yield the most accurate perspectives on complex problems. To contextualize modern warming, for example, we can reconstruct past climate change using models developed by computer scientists; tree rings or ice cores examined by climatologists; and documents interpreted by historians. We gain far more by using these sources in concert than we would by examining each in isolation. Yet we must approach such interdisciplinarity with caution. The problems presented by climate change scepticism provide lessons for academics crossing disciplinary boundaries, and for policymakers, journalists, and laypeople interpreting interdisciplinary findings. Read More
The PAGES (Past Global Changes) group has announced new meeting dates and calls for papers for PAGES workshops and panels at the EGU and other upcoming conferences. Please see the PAGES website for more information.
PAGES is also putting out a call for collaboration from historians and archaeologists for the LandCover 6k project, which I pass along here:
The latest issue of the William and Mary Quarterly features a forum on climate and early American history, with an introduction by Joyce Chapman and four articles. The first article, by Sam White, ““Shewing the difference betweene their conjuration, and our invocation on the name of God for rayne”: Weather, Prayer, and Magic in Early American Encounters,” examines the numerous accounts during the early exploration and colonization of North America wherein Native Americans supposedly asked Europeans to help them pray for better weather. It argues from textual, climatological, and archaeological evidence that the narratives are probably factual. Yet given their very different views of religion and magic, these episodes only aggravated fear and mistrust between European invaders and their Native hosts. Thomas Wickman, “‘Winters Embittered with Hardships’: Severe Cold, Wabanaki Power, and English Adjustments, 1690–1710,” The William and Mary Quarterly 72 (2015): 57–98, describes how first the Wabanaki Indians and later the English colonists of New England adapted to the cold snowy winters of the 1680s and 1690s, shifting the military balance of power in the region during the Anglo-Abenaki Wars. Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, “Climate Change and the Retreat of the Atlantic: The Cameralist Context of Pehr Kalm’s Voyage to North America, 1748–51,” The William and Mary Quarterly 72 (2015): 99–126, offers a close reading of Kalm’s travel journal and correspondence from America, situating his views of the American climate within the framework of contemporary European concerns about climate change and acclimatization. Anya Zilberstein, “Inured to Empire: Wild Rice and Climate Change,” The William and Mary Quarterly 72 (2015): 127–58, examines English efforts during the late 18th century to cultivate American wild rice, imagining it as an ideal crop to weather North America’s changeable climate. The journal issue also includes a featured review of John L. Brooke, Climate Change and the Course of Global History: A Rough Journey (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014) and Geoffrey Parker, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013).
This month’s issue of the Journal of Interdisciplinary History leads with an article by Dagomar Degroot, “Testing the Limits of Climate History: The Quest for a Northeast Passage during the Little Ice Age, 1594–1597.” Using the case study of the Willem Barents Arctic expeditions, Degroot argues that where historians can prove that climate changed, as in the Grindelwald fluctuation of the late 1500s, they still need to demonstrate when and how specific weather influenced human affairs. Otherwise, climate data derived from proxy sources and models can only serve as a rough guide to the averages and probabilities of historical impacts. The issue also includes a review of Brooke, Rough Journey, by Kyle Harper.
On February 19th, interdisciplinary scholars will meet at the Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Forschung in Bielefeld, to discuss relationships between early modern famine and climatic cooling. The official workshop announcement follows:
Global climate change has put famines back on the agenda. The predicted rise of extreme weather raises the question, how similar events were met in historical societies. However, such studies are challenged by disciplinary constraints. Famines occur at the interface of nature and culture. They involve both the bio-physical as well as the social sphere. Their entanglement highlights the co-evolvement of natural environment and social actions. This broad socio-ecological character extends beyond the reach of individual disciplines. As a result, popular references to the dramatic impact of famines during the premodern era are often based on conjectures.
Once every four years, the International Union for Quaternary Research holds a congress to exchange research and set the agenda for future meetings. This congress will be held next year in Nagoya, Japan, from July 27th to August 2nd. Professors David Nash and Rudolf Brazdil and have proposed a session entitled “Reconstructing Historical Climate Variability Using Documentary Sources,” and they are looking for papers. The session abstract is below. If you are interested in taking part, submit your abstract online before December 20 2014, at: http://goo.gl/rUQMln.