In the first post in a new series on the uses of environmental history, the blog of the Rachel Carson Center has published Prof. John R. McNeill's reflections on the potential usefulness of environmental history beyond the satisfaction of academic curiosity. The series offers adaptations of presentations made at Renmin University, Beijing, for the new Journal for Ecological History of Renmin's Center for Ecological History. "Environmental historians do not need to become more useful and practical. We should do so if we want to," McNeill writes. McNeill also describes his experience offering his knowledge of mosquito-borne diseases in the Caribbean to a U.S. Congressional briefing on the Zika virus in September 2016. Shortly after that briefing, Congress voted to approve $1.1 billion for Zika control efforts. For his answer to his own question, 'Did we actually have any impact?", read his full post on the RCC blog.
Professor Dagomar Degroot was recently interviewed for the Georgetown university homepage. Degroot discusses his forthcoming book on the resilience of the Dutch in the face of premodern climate change, and then explains one of his new projects on the environmental history of conflict and climate change in the high Arctic.
To read the interview, click here.
José Pons, a first-year PhD student in the Department of History, has coauthored a paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The paper provides a detailed statistical analysis of waste management across the United States. Click here for more.
The Climate History Network has organized its first event at Georgetown University. At Fischer Colloquium on November 15th, world-renowned climatologist Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and author of more than 200 publications, will give a lecture entitled: "The Past as Prologue: Learning from Climate Changes in Past Centuries."
Mann will review what we know about past climate changes, and what they could tell us about the future. He will review cutting-edge work over the past decade that aims to establish the nature of, and causes for, large-scale climate variability in past centuries. He will explain how scientists have used “proxy” evidence from tree rings, ice cores, lakebed sediments, and other sources alongside computer model simulations to trace this variability. Such research has helped us understand the cause of present-day climate change, and revealed whether it has any precedent in the history of human civilization.
Doors open at 11:30 AM, and the lecture will end at 2:00 PM. To RSVP, click here.
The Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences at Rice University recently interviewed Professor J. R. McNeill about the concept of the Anthropocene and his work as part of the Anthropocene Working Group.
To read the interview, click here.
We are pleased to announce the program for our upcoming graduate conference, 'Humanity & Other Forms of Life: Environmental Histories of the World.' Three panels of doctoral students will present their work, on the intersection of the aquatic and the political, the ecological dimensions of medieval warfare, and modern regimes of environmental control and transformation. Our fourth session will be a faculty roundtable, which will reflect on the presented work and discuss promising directions for further research. The conference will take place at Georgetown University on Saturday, November 5, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Papers will be circulated to registered participants in advance. For full details, please click here or use the menu at the top of the page. RSVP here (seating is very limited).
Call for Papers: Graduate Conference on World Environmental History, Georgetown University, 5 November 2016
HUMANITY & OTHER FORMS OF LIFE: ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORIES OF THE WORLD
November 5, 2016
Georgetown University, Washington, DC
The Department of History at Georgetown University invites paper proposals from graduate students for a one-day conference on world environmental history. The conference seeks to bring together students from the disciplines of history, historical ecology, environmental archaeology, or other relevant fields who share common research interests in humanity’s relationship with the natural environment. Papers dealing with all themes in environmental history, from every world region, and during any time period are welcome. Those accepted 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 where participating students present and receive comprehensive feedback on their ongoing work (e.g. dissertation chapters and journal articles) from senior scholars, become familiar with the latest research projects carried out in the paleo-environmental sciences, and interact and network with fellow students and faculty members.
Georgetown University will cover the costs of accommodation (two nights) for admitted applicants for the duration of the conference. Light breakfast and lunch will be provided on the day of the conference. Attendees are expected to cover their own transportation costs and other travel expenses.
Application Process and Deadlines
Interested students should submit an abstract (between 200 and 300 words) along with a brief curriculum vitae to Faisal Husain (email@example.com) by June 17, 2016. Successful applicants will be notified in early July and asked to submit a full version of their papers (double-spaced, between fifteen and thirty pages) by September 23 for pre-circulation to conference attendees and commentators.
Professor Dagomar Degroot has published three new articles at HistoricalClimatology.com and the Climate History Network homepage.
In the first article, Dr. Degroot surveys the history of the website and network he cofounded, and introduces the team that will help him run both climate history initiatives.
In the second article, Professor Ruth Morgan contextualizes droughts in western Australia and the western United States, in light of the deep environmental history of both regions. "Water cultures" predicated on stable climates, Dr. Morgan argues, have run up against the long-term climatic variability of American and Australian wests.
In the third article, Dr. Tim Newfield, who will soon join us as a professor of environmental history, gives a history of the interdisciplinary scholarship surrounding the climatic cooling of the sixth century. Was the culprit a volcano, an asteroid, or something else? Dr. Newfield investigates.
Peter Engelke and John McNeill in the Washington Post for "Earth Day: Are we at the beginning of a new geological era?"
By Peter Engelke and J. R. McNeill
Peter Engelke, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and J.R. McNeill, professor of history at Georgetown University, are co-authors of the new book The Great Acceleration.
The first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970, was designed to draw popular attention to environmental causes and the need to protect nature. It succeeded. At age 46, Earth Day continues to focus our minds on preserving the natural world, if only for a brief moment each year.
But what if a basic assumption about our planet, one that we all make on Earth Day and every other day, is wrong? What if, in 2016, we no longer inhabit the Earth we once did? What if the nature we seek to protect has already been profoundly altered — by us? Would that undercut the logic of Earth Day?
Read more on the Washington Post.