Archive for November 2011
This month UNC Press published Sherry Johnson’s new book, Climate and Catastrophe in Cuba and the Atlantic World, which explores the impact of extreme weather on the late 18th-century political economy of the Caribbean and the rise of revolutionary sentiments in the Atlantic world.
In another significant recognition of climate in history, the latest issue of the American Historical Review includes a compelling article by Victor Lieberman, “Charter State Collapse in Southeast Asia, ca.1250-1400, as a Problem in Regional and World History.” Drawing on ideas in his massive Strange Parallels, and working from recent paleoclimate data, Lieberman makes the case that onset of colder weather and erratic precipitation in the 14th century can help explain the otherwise mysterious near-simultaneous collapse of three Southeast Asian charter states, at a time of famine and political crisis from Western Europe to Yuan China.
DISCCRS (Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Climate Change Research) held its sixth annual symposium at La Foret, outside of Colorado Springs, on October 22-29. This workshop, sponsored by the NSF and NASA, focuses on bringing together a multidisciplinary group of early career researchers in climate change for training in interdisciplinary collaboration and effectively communicating climate change research to a wider audience. Organizers Ronald Mitchell and Sue Weiler were joined by a team of senior scholars in different areas of climate change to serve as mentors to the participants, hosting sessions on topics such as career issues and grant writing. The 32 participants this year came from six countries and represented about a dozen disciplines ranging from hydrology to biology to public policy to philosophy. (I was the program’s first and only historian this year—but hopefully not its last.) Perhaps the greatest attraction of all was the chance to network with top new researchers in a range of disciplines. The DISCCRS program hosts an excellent website, with information on how to register your dissertation and how to apply to next year’s symposium, along with extensive funding and career resources: http://disccrs.org/