Dagomar Degroot is an environmental historian who bridges the humanities and sciences to explore how communities responded to abrupt changes in environments on Earth and across the Solar System. He aims to better understand how environmental forces have shaped human history - partly to offer fresh perspectives on the environmental challenges of the future.
Most of his scholarship identifies past changes in climate and considers how they influenced human history. For example, his book The Frigid Golden Age: Climate Change, the Little Ice Age, and the Dutch Republic, 1560-1720 (Cambridge University Press, 2018) is the first to explore how a society thrived amid the Little Ice Age, a period of natural climatic cooling. The Frigid Golden Age was named by the Financial Times as one of the ten best history books of 2018.
Degroot also publishes widely in both historical and scientific journals, including Nature, Environmental Research Letters, and The American Historical Review. In many of these publications, he finds previously overlooked examples of "resilience" and "adaptation" in the face of climate change. He has also worked to develop new methods for connecting human and climatic histories; to uncover new relationships between climate change and conflict; and to incorporate the histories of animals within the human history of climate change.
A second area of focus is the environmental history of outer space. For example, his next book, Ripples in the Cosmic Ocean: An Environmental History of Humanity's Place in the Solar System (Harvard University Press/Viking), argues that dynamic environments across the Solar System have profoundly influenced the human history of the past five centuries.
While working on these and other projects, Degroot teaches courses at Georgetown on topics that include the Little Ice Age, the impacts of global warming, the environmental history of outer space, and the Anthropocene. He regularly plans major events at Georgetown that explore different dimensions of the climate crisis, or outer space exploration, exploitation, and settlement.
He also aims to bring the lessons of the past to policymakers and the general public. He regularly gives public lectures for large audiences, and his writing has appeared in Aeon, The Conversation, and the Washington Post, among other outlets. He has been interviewed for articles that appeared in, for example, Axios, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, Popular Science, Space.com, and the Washington Post.
When not working or chasing after his children, Degroot enjoys quantitative basketball analysis, apochromatic refractor telescopes, and small electric vehicles that go faster than they probably should.