March 6, 2019, 3:30 p.m.
Building 3, Goett Auditorium
and the Solar System: Cosmic Upheavals and Human History"
Historians typically write as though humans create history
purely by influencing other humans. In most history books, the
non-human universe is therefore little more than a stage for
human drama. Yet in a new book, Civilization and the Cosmos,
environmental historian Dagomar Degroot argues that changes to
environments across the solar system have long influenced
cultures, altered economies, and provoked political upheaval on
Earth, in ways other historians have simply overlooked. He
imagines the solar system as a dynamic actor in human history,
shaping and increasingly shaped by ideas and institutions in
societies the world over. In this presentation, he traces the
surprising and occasionally bizarre repercussions, on Earth, of
the 1994 Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet impacts on Jupiter: a
particularly telling example of a cosmic environmental change
that affected the human story in unexpected ways.
About the Speaker:
Dagomar Degroot is an assistant professor of
environmental history at Georgetown University. He is an
environmental historian of climate change, outer space, and war.
His recent work focuses on the resilience of different societies
to pre-industrial climate change; the history of animal cultures
in the Arctic, and the social impacts, on Earth, of
environmental changes in outer space. His first book, The Frigid
Golden Age, was recently published by Cambridge University
Press. His second book, Civilization and the Cosmos, is under
contract with Harvard University Press and Penguin Random House.
He is the co-founder of the Climate History Network, an
organization of more than 200 scholars of climate change, and
HistoricalClimatology.com, a website that receives roughly
500,000 hits per year.
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