Climate History Podcast

Dagomar Degroot

Climate History features interviews and discussions about the history of climate change. Conversations consider what the past can tell us about our present and future.

It is hosted by Dr. Dagomar Degroot, associate professor of environmental history at Georgetown University, and Emma Moesswilde, a PhD student in environmental and climate history at Georgetown.

All Episodes

In the 21st episode of Climate History, co-host Emma Moesswilde interviews Debjani Bhattacharyya, Associate Professor of History at Drexel University. Professor Bhattacharyya is among the most innovative scholars of past climate change, and the histories she uncovers have clear relevance for the future of the Indian Ocean World. Moesswilde and Bhattacharyya discuss the history of human responses to climate change at sea; the role of environmental disasters in shape urban trajectories; the role of insurance markets in creating weather knowledge; and how transdisciplinary perspectives on the past can inform our understanding of a hotter future.

Jul 17

42 min 56 sec

In the 20th episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde interview Jim McClure, General Editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University. Recently, Director McClure spearheaded the creation of a unique digital resource: a repository of Jefferson’s abundant observations of the weather and climate of his time. McClure discusses the creation of the Jefferson Weather and Climate Records; explains what visitors can find using this resource; describes how Jefferson wrote about the weather of his time; and details why scholars and students interested in climate change should put "Jefferson to use without accepting all that he was or did."

May 16

1 hr

In the 19th episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde discuss their work on a major article in the journal Nature. The article coins a new term – the “History of Climate and Society” (HCS) – to refer to the truly interdisciplinary study of the past impacts of climate change on human populations. It offers a detailed critique of the field as it has been pursued to date, presents a new research framework for HCS scholars, and shows how the application of that framework can permit new scholarship into the resilience and adaptability of populations that faced the modest, pre-industrial climate changes of the past 2,000 years. It also identifies five “pathways” that allowed populations to endure and even exploit these changes - pathways from which we might learn today. Dagomar Degroot, lead author of the study, explains what led him to develop the article, describes its major findings, and reveals what it can tell us about the future of global warming.

Mar 24

1 hr 8 min

In the 18th episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde interview Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director of the Georgetown Climate Center and Professor from Practice at Georgetown Law. Professor Arroyo explains which climate policies have worked across the United States, and identifies where emissions reductions will be hardest to achieve. She emphasizes a pressing need for greater adaptation across America, and describes which policies the Biden Administration should pursue to confront the Climate Crisis.

Dec 2020

38 min 4 sec

In the 17th episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde interview PhD candidate Emily Webster of the Department of History at the University of Chicago. Webster's trailblazing scholarship combines environmental history, the history of science, and medical history to transform understandings of disease in the British Empire. Among other topics, Webster discusses what history can reveal about the unequal impacts of environmental change on marginalized communities, and how it can shed light on connections between apparently isolated environmental crises. She also describes how history can inform public discourse on COVID-19; and identifies the impact of our present pandemic on higher education - particularly graduate students.

Nov 2020

47 min 19 sec

In the 16th episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde interview professor Timothy Newfield, a climate historian and historical epidemiologist in the departments of history and biology at Georgetown University. Professor Newfield explains how he landed in two very different departments, in two very different fields, and introduces the discipline of historical epidemiology. He describes how historical epidemiologists can identify past diseases and their social consequences, then considers what history can reveal about today's COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, he reflects on the links between climate change and disease, past and present, and on the limitations of public discourse about today's biggest environmental challenges.

Aug 2020

1 hr 11 min

In the 15th episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde interview Kathryn de Luna, Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor in the Department of History at Georgetown University. Professor de Luna combines paleoscience, archaeology, and historical linguistics to explore the deep history of eastern, central and southern Africa before the 20th century. At Georgetown, she is on the cutting edge of developing new courses and teaching methods that introduce students to ways of understanding the past that go well beyond the traditional practice of history. In this episode, Professor de Luna describes the courses she teaches; outlines the potential and peril of multidisciplinary learning; and gives concrete advice for how to make university education truly multidisciplinary.

Jun 2020

48 min 7 sec

In the 14th episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde interview Joseph Manning, the William K. and Marilyn Milton Simpson Professor of Classics at Yale University. Professor Manning is a leading expert on the law, politics, and economy of the ancient world, particularly the Hellenistic Period (between 330 and 30 BCE). In recent years, he's led efforts to uncover a link between volcanic eruptions, climatic shocks, and rebellions in ancient Egypt: efforts that inspired headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and elsewhere. Professor Manning explains how his team uncovered the influence of climate change in Egyptian history, and what the ancient world has to tell us about our uncertain future.

Apr 2020

47 min 21 sec

In the 13th and most unusual episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde share their reflections on the Covid-19 pandemic in light of their expertise as environmental historians. Among other topics, Degroot and Moesswilde discuss how historians might someday write about the pandemic, the parallels between Covid and climate reporting, and how (and how not) to draw lessons from the era of social distancing for the fight against climate change.

Mar 2020

32 min 4 sec

In the 12th episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde interview leading tree ring scientists Amy Hessl (West Virginia University) and Valerie Trouet (University of Arizona). Both Hessl and Trouet have scoured the world to measure the growth rings in trees, which they use to uncover ancient climate changes that likely influenced the fate of past societies. In a wide ranging conversation, Trouet and Hessl describe the nature of this work and its key lessons for the present. Trouet also introduces her new book, "Tree Story," which chronicles her career and explains the basics of tree ring science to the general public.

Mar 2020

45 min 47 sec

In the 11th episode of Climate History, co-hosts Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde interview Victoria Herrmann, president and managing director of the Arctic Institute and one of Apolitical's top 100 influencers on climate policy. Dr. Herrmann's scholarship has focused on media representations of the Arctic and its peoples. Yet while completing her PhD as a Gates Scholar in the Scott Polar Institute at Cambridge University, Herrmann launched several projects aimed at building adaptation to climate change in coastal communities. Her focus has been to connect scholars with stakeholders on the ground, turning abstract knowledge into tangible action. In this interview, we discuss how climate change scholarship can (and perhaps should) inform concrete action, and how action can enrich scholarship. We consider how graduate students can find their public voice, weigh the importance of storytelling for encouraging climate change action, and contemplate sources of hope in a rapidly warming world.

Dec 2019

42 min 2 sec

In the tenth episode of Climate History, our podcast, Emma Moesswilde and Dagomar Degroot interview Bathsheba Demuth, assistant professor of environmental history at Brown University. Professor Demuth specializes in the lands and seas of the Russian and North American Arctic. She is a returning guest. In our seventh episode, she introduced the major themes of what was then her doctoral dissertation, and is now her book, "Floating Coast." In this episode, she describes how she wrote the book, and what we can learn from it. She details her experiences in the Arctic, her deep engagement with the community of Old Crow, her thinking about non-human actors in historical stories, her success in writing for the general public, and her views on what the past can reveal about the future of the rapidly-warming Arctic.​

Oct 2019

34 min 52 sec

In the ninth episode of Climate History, our podcast, we relaunch with a new co-host: Emma Moesswilde, PhD Student in Environmental History at Georgetown University. For the relaunch, Moesswilde and Dagomar Degroot are joined by Kevin Anchukaitis, associate professor of geography at the University of Arizona and one of the world's leading paleoclimatologists. Anchukaitis uncovers and interprets past climate changes, and he's responsible for some of the most important studies on climatic trends past and present. In this episode, Moesswilde, Degroot, and Anchukaitis discuss how and why Earth's climate has changed over the past two thousand years; how scholars "reconstruct" those changes; how historians can link the changes to the course of human history; why this research matters today; and how to communicate scholarship on past climates to the widest possible audience.

Sep 2019

57 min 14 sec

In the eighth episode of the Climate History Podcast, Georgetown PhD candidate Robynne Mellor interviews Professor Dagomar Degroot (Georgetown University), the co-director of the Climate History Network, about his new book: "The Frigid Golden Age: Climate Change, the Little Ice Age, and the Dutch Republic, 1560-1720" (Cambridge University Press). Mellor and Degroot discuss the so-called "Little Ice Age;" the contrasting experiences of different societies; resilience and adaptation in the face of climate change; the keys to getting a job in environmental history, and the culture shock of moving from Canada to the United States.

Jun 2018

55 min 8 sec

In the seventh episode of the Climate History Podcast, Professor Dagomar Degroot (Georgetown University) interviews Professor Bathsheba Demuth (Brown University) about her experiences in a changing Arctic, and her forthcoming book on the history of communism and capitalism across the Bering Strait.

Apr 2017

34 min 42 sec

In the sixth episode of the Climate History Podcast, Professor Dagomar Degroot (Georgetown University) interviews Professor James Fleming (Colby College) about the history and future prospects of geoengineering, and the invention of atmospheric science in the twentieth century.

Mar 2017

46 min 54 sec

In the fifth episode of the Climate History Podcast, Professor Dagomar Degroot (Georgetown University) interviews Professor Sam White (Ohio State University) about the Trump administration's plans for climate scholarship; his new book on the role of climate change in the colonization of the Americas; and a new Climate History Network project that will map past climate changes and their human consequences.

Jan 2017

35 min 27 sec

In the fourth episode of the Climate History Podcast, Professor Dagomar Degroot (Georgetown University) interviews Professor John McNeill (Georgetown University) about the Anthropocene: the proposed geological epoch in which Earth's environment is most profoundly shaped by humanity.

Oct 2016

42 min 8 sec

In the third episode of the Climate History Podcast, Dr. Dagomar Degroot (Georgetown University) interviews Dr. Thomas McGovern (CUNY) and Dr. George Hambrecht (University of Maryland) about archaeology in the Arctic and Subarctic. Topics include: the perils of doing fieldwork in the Far North; the struggles of the Norse in Greenland and Iceland at the onset of the Little Ice Age; the threat of climate change to the archaeological record of northern peoples; and the possibilities (and challenges) of interdisciplinary approaches to Arctic research.

Jan 2016

48 min 21 sec

In the second episode of the Climate History Podcast, Dr. Dagomar Degroot (Georgetown University) and Dr. Sam White (Ohio State University) discuss the origins and future of their Climate History Network; the prospects for climate history as a discipline; the possibilities and pitfalls of interdisciplinary research; the enduring value of the "Little Ice Age" idea, and more.

Nov 2015

42 min 1 sec

In the first episode of the Climate History Podcast, Dr. Dagomar Degroot (Georgetown University) interviews Dr. Geoffrey Parker (Ohio State University) about human responses to climatic cooling in the seventeenth century.

Jul 2015

35 min 42 sec