Climate & the Social Sciences

Climate as a Contributor to the Rise and Decline of the Roman Empire

Michael McCormick and colleagues examine the climatic backdrop to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, adding an essential environmental context to one of the most-debated topics in history. Their paper also represents an important advance in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History’s promotion of climate history, which began with a special issue on the topic in 1980. As McCormick et al. note, the questions arising in that special issue quickly outstripped contemporary science and history. Since then, there has been a

Two Faces of Arctic Climate Change: Past Impacts on Human Settlement, Future Risks for Archaeological Sites. Max Friesen

Max Friesen is a professor of archaeology at the University of Toronto. He has directed over 20 field seasons in the Canadian Arctic, on sites ranging from the earliest Palaeoeskimo settlements to historic Inuit occupations. He is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Arctic Archaeology.

Political Ideology Trumps First-hand Experience on Climate Change

While attributing specific extreme weather events to anthropogenic climate change is always subject to challenge, assertions that climate change has already increased the occurrence of such phenomena is harder to deny. Indeed, extreme weather events such as the 2003 European heat wave, 2010 Russian heat wave, 2012 Superstorm Sandy in the US, or the 2013-14 southward shifts of the North Polar Vortex are consistent with predictions of climate change impacts (McCright et al. 2014). Social scientists increasingly ask to what extent does the general public link…

Connecting Roman and Medieval Climate and Historical Change. Michael McCormick, Harvard University

Michael McCormick, Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History at Harvard, discusses how new tools in climate science, human genetics and computer science provide fresh insight into the history of Medieval Europe and Rome, and the latest developments in his new Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard.

Wind at the Margins of the State: Autonomy and Renewable Energy in Southern Mexico. Cymene Howe and Dominick Boyer

In Oaxaca’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec, state and private interests have created the densest development of wind power anywhere in the world. This presentation examines how a governmentally supported, ecologically timely project, the Mareña Renovables wind park, failed in the face of unprecedented local resistance.

Stop Saving the Planet! ... and other tips for 21st Century environmentalists

Jenny Price is a public writer, artist, and historian, and the 2014 Barron Visiting Professor of the Environment & the Humanities at Princeton University. Author of “Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A.” and Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America, she’s written also for Believer, GOOD, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times, and pens the Green Me Up, JJ not-quite advice column. As a co-founder of the Project 51 collective, she is co-leading the current year-long Play the LA River project on L.A.’s concrete river; and as a founder of the L.A.

Greenland Norse Knowledge of the North Atlantic. Thomas Haine

What did the Norse know about climate, and what was the role of driftwood in their lives? Prof. Thomas Haine, the Morton K. Blaustein Chair of Earth & Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, departs from his usual realm of fluid dynamics and numerical modeling to use more prosaic tools to answer the question, what did the Norse know about climate, and what was the role of driftwood in their lives?

Mining the written history of medieval Ireland for connections to human violence and climate change.

Francis Ludlow is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Yale Climate & Energy Institute, where he works with Prof. Benedict Kiernan of the Department of History and Prof. Michael R. Dove of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, on a project entitled Climate as Catalyst in 1,224 Years of Violence and Conflict in Ireland, 425-1649 CE. From 2013-2014 Francis held the position of Carson Fellow at …


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