Advertisement

Understanding Climate Change Historically

  • Richard StaleyEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter examines three perspectives on histories of climate change. Accounts of the discovery of global warming have shown that, until recently, generalisations about carbon dioxide proved vulnerable, requiring novel collaborations across physics, geophysics, meteorology and atmospheric sciences. Cultural histories of climate and the scientific community help show when and why they were successful. Accounts of the production of climate data establish how national and international data regimes incorporated new instruments and modelling practices, continually revisiting the past to establish new forms of data. Finally, climate debates have contested consensus, balance and regulation across scientific and political elites, illustrating how selective histories serve different futures. Examining the work of scientists and others, this chapter shows how historical perspectives deepen our understanding of controversial science.

Keywords

Climate change History History of science Meteorology Scientific community 

Bibliography

  1. Anderson, K. (2005), Predicting the Weather: Victorians and the Science of Meteorology. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.Google Scholar
  2. Dahan, A. (2010), ‘Putting the Earth System in a Numerical Box? The Evolution from Climate Modeling toward Global Change.’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41, no. 3, pp. 282–92.Google Scholar
  3. Edwards, P. N. (2010), A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  4. Edwards, P. N. (2011), ‘History of Climate Modeling.’ Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 2, no. 1, pp. 128–39.Google Scholar
  5. Fleming, J. R. (2010), Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control. Columbia Studies in International and Global History. Columbia University Press: New York/Chichester.Google Scholar
  6. Fleming, J. R. (1998), Historical Perspectives on Climate Change. Oxford University Press: New York.Google Scholar
  7. Fleming, J. R. and Janković, V. eds. (2011), Klima, Osiris.Google Scholar
  8. Friedman, R. M. (1989), Appropriating the Weather: Vilhelm Bjerknes and the Construction of a Modern Meteorology. Cornell University Press: Ithaca.Google Scholar
  9. Golinski, J. (2007), British Weather and the Climate of Enlightenment. University of Chicago Press: Chicago/London.Google Scholar
  10. Guillemot, H. (2010), ‘Connections between Simulations and Observation in Climate Computer Modeling. Scientist’s Practices and ‘Bottom-up Epistemology’ Lessons.’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41, no. 3, pp. 242–52.Google Scholar
  11. Harper, K. (2008), Weather by the Numbers: The Genesis of Modern Meteorology. Transformations. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  12. Heymann, M. (2010), ‘The Evolution of Climate Ideas and Knowledge.’ Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 1, no. 4, pp. 581–97.Google Scholar
  13. Hulme, M. (2009), Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge/New York.Google Scholar
  14. Hulme, M. (2010), ‘Mapping Climate Change Knowledge: An Editorial Essay.’ Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 1, no. 1, pp. 1–8.Google Scholar
  15. Janković, V. (2010), Confronting the Climate: British Airs and the Making of Environmental Medicine. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke.Google Scholar
  16. Launius, R. D. (2011), ‘Climate Change and Spaceflight: An Historiographical Review.’ Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 2, no. 3, pp. 412–27.Google Scholar
  17. Middleton, W. E. K. (1966), A History of the Theories of Rain: And Other Forms of Precipitation. The Watts History of Science Library. Watts: New York.Google Scholar
  18. Middleton, W. E. K. (1969), Invention of the Meteorological Instruments. Johns Hopkins Press: Baltimore.Google Scholar
  19. Nebeker, F. (1995), Calculating the Weather: Meteorology in the 20th Century. International Geophysics Series. Academic Press: San Diego.Google Scholar
  20. Oreskes, N. and Conway, E. M. (2010), Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Bloomsbury Press: New York.Google Scholar
  21. Oreskes, N. (2004), ‘The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.’ Science 306, 1686.Google Scholar
  22. Staley, R. (2006), ‘Fog, Dust and Rising Air: Understanding Cloud Formation, Cloud Chambers, and the Role of Meteorology in Cambridge Physics in the Late 19th Century.’, in Fleming, J. R., Jankovic, V. and Coen, D. R. eds. Intimate Universality: Local and Global Themes in the History of Weather and Climate, 93–113. Science History Publications: Sagamore Beach.Google Scholar
  23. Staley, R. (2013), ‘Trajectories in the History and Historiography of Physics in the Twentieth Century.’ History of Science 51, pp. 151–77.Google Scholar
  24. Weart, S. R. (2003), The Discovery of Global Warming. New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  25. Weart, S. R. (2010), ‘The Idea of Anthropogenic Global Climate Change in the 20th Century.’ Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 1, no. 1, pp. 67–81.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of the History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations