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Dagomar Degroot, Georgetown University

Wed January 26th 2022, 4:30 - 6:00pm

The History of Climate and Society: Learning form the Past to Prepare for the Future

ABSTRACT Historians and scholars in many other disciplines that consider the past – archaeologists, economists, geneticists, geographers, linguists, and paleoclimatologists, among others – have long explored how natural climate changes influenced human history. This scholarship, which has been termed “climate history” or, more recently, the “History of Climate and Society” (HCS), is quickly growing in popularity and influence. This talk provides an overview and criticism of the field as a multidisciplinary endeavor. It provides a brief history of systematic attempts to link climate change to the human past, then explains the different methods, sources, and causal mechanisms pioneered by HCS scholars. It also highlights systematic shortcomings and blind spots in this scholarship, and attempts to explain their causes. It then introduces a new approach to HCS that is helping scholars uncover how some populations endured past climate changes, and explores whether it can - and should - provide lessons that may help us prepare for a hotter future.

SPEAKER BIO Dagomar Degroot is an associate professor of environmental history at Georgetown University. His first book, The Frigid Golden Age, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018; his next book, Ripples in the Cosmic Ocean, is under contract with Harvard University Press and Viking. He publishes equally in both historical and scientific journals, most recently for Nature, Climate of the Past, Environmental History, and Environment and History. He is co-director of the Climate History Network and, co-host of the popular podcast Climate History, and writes for a popular audience in publications that include the Washington Post and Aeon Magazine. For more information, please visit the CMEMS website