December 17, 2017


TABLE OF CONTENTS    April, 2014 | Vol. 19, No. 2


Minding the Gap: Pan-Americanism’s Highway, American Environmentalism, and Remembering the Failure to Close the Darién Gap by Shawn W. Miller

Radiation and Restoration; or, How Best to Make a Blight-Resistant Chestnut Tree by Helen Anne Curry

Ranchers’ Friend and Farmers’ Foe: Reshaping Nature with Beaver Reintroduction in California by Steven M. Fountain



Frame DS1050-1006DF129: March 20, 1969 by David Biggs


Climate Change and Environmental History

Forum Introduction by Mark Carey and Philip Garone

Experiments in the Anthropocene: Climate Change and History in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica by Adrian Howkins

Exploring Particularity: Vulnerability, Resilience, and Memory in Climate Change Discourses by Georgina H. Endfield

Seeing Climate through Culture by Lawrence Culver

Animals, Climate Change, and History by Sam White

When Good Climates Go Bad: Pivot Phases, Extreme Events, and the Opportunities for Climate History by Sherry Johnson

Climate Physicians and Surgeons by James Rodger Fleming

Mission Convergence?: Climate Change and the Management of US Public Lands by Philip Garone

Science, Models, and Historians: Toward a Critical Climate History by Mark Carey




Issue 19.2 – April 2014

This term I am teaching a course on global environmental history. What most excites me about this class is its fluidity. I get to explore with my students the diversity of stories we have developed to make sense of our world. The course spans several millennia, touches upon all continents and oceans, travels into space, and examines divergent approaches to biodiversity and conservation, pollution control, scientific development, and economic growth, among other topics. What this course allows me to do is highlight the conceptual complexity of environmental history and to introduce students to multiple viewpoints from which to evaluate events, trends, and ideas.

The contributions in this issue will, I think, present similar opportunities for reflection. A common theme among the articles is that of conservation, but the authors approach the subject in very different ways. Shawn Miller takes us on a journey through the jungles of Panama’s Darién Gap. “Minding the Gap” begins with plans to pave, bridge, or in some other way make the Gap passable for automobiles, all in the name of Pan-Americanism, but ends with efforts to protect the Gap and its incredible biodiversity from the very road that initially brought attention to the region. Helen Anne Curry’s piece on the American chestnut is similar to Miller’s in that the initial project – which in Curry’s case was to create trees carrying genetic mutations for blight resistance through irradiating seeds – did not come to fruition. However, “Radiation and Restoration” opens up debates about genetic manipulation, peaceful use of atomic science, and issues of globalization and extinction, urging us to think deeply not only about the role of science in such questions, but their implications for nature and for ourselves. In “Ranchers’ Friend and Farmers’ Foe,” Steven Fountain traces the history of beaver reintroduction in California, suggesting that the effort “was one of the great successes of animal management in the twentieth century.” One of the outcomes of the program was transforming the beaver from a pest into a helpful friend, depending, of course, on where the beaver happened to live. Here again, perspective comes into play, and Fountain’s research illuminates the shifting ground we cultivate with regard to our views on the non-human world.

This issue’s Forum, edited by Mark Carey and Philip Garone, presents eight views on how climate history and climate change can and should be integrated into environmental history. The Forum asks two questions: “(1) How does the study of climate history enrich the field of environmental history more broadly? (2) How can environmental historians contribute to present-day understandings of and responses to global climate change?” These authors’ contentions help to enrich the conversation about climate change, policy making, and the future of environmental history. The Forum, in combination with the articles and David Biggs’s Gallery essay, bring into focus the importance of perspective as we look to the past for insight into our history, the present, and potentially, our future.

— Lisa M. Brady, Editor in chief