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Climate in motion : science, empire, and the problem of scale

Author: Deborah R Coen
Publisher: Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, 2018. ©2018
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Today, predicting the impact of human activities on the earth's climate hinges on tracking interactions among phenomena of radically different dimensions, from the molecular to the planetary. Climate in Motion shows that this multiscalar, multicausal framework emerged well before computers and satellites. Extending the history of modern climate science back into the nineteenth century, Deborah R. Coen uncovers its  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Deborah R Coen
ISBN: 9780226398822 022639882X
OCLC Number: 1013992743
Description: xiv, 425 pages, 4 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Contents: Introduction: Climate and empire --
Part 1. Unity in diversity. The Habsburgs and the collection of nature --
The Austrian idea --
The imperial-royal scientist --
The dual task --
Part 2. The scales of empire. The face of the empire --
The invention of climatography --
The power of local differences --
Planetary disturbances --
Part 3. The work of scaling. The forest-climate question --
The floral archive --
Landscapes of desire --
Conclusion: After empire.
Responsibility: Deborah R. Coen.

Abstract:

Today, predicting the impact of human activities on the earth's climate hinges on tracking interactions among phenomena of radically different dimensions, from the molecular to the planetary. Climate in Motion shows that this multiscalar, multicausal framework emerged well before computers and satellites. Extending the history of modern climate science back into the nineteenth century, Deborah R. Coen uncovers its roots in the politics of empire-building in central and eastern Europe. She argues that essential elements of the modern understanding of climate arose as a means of thinking across scales in a state the multinational Habsburg Monarchy, a patchwork of medieval kingdoms and modern laws - where such thinking was a political imperative. Led by Julius Hann in Vienna, Habsburg scientists were the first to investigate precisely how local winds and storms might be related to the general circulation of the earth's atmosphere as a whole. Linking Habsburg climatology to the political and artistic experiments of late imperial Austria, Coen grounds the seemingly esoteric science of the atmosphere in the everyday experiences of an earlier era of globalization. Climate in Motion presents the history of modern climate science as a history of scaling - that is, the embodied work of moving between different frameworks for measuring the world. In this way, it offers a critical historical perspective on the concepts of scale that structure thinking about the climate crisis today and the range of possibilities for responding to it.

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"Deborah Coen's extraordinary, genre-transcending book reinterprets the late Habsburg Empire through the history of its field sciences, especially its inventive, world-leading climatology. Each Read more...

 
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