Climate has always been with us, but the sciences for assessing it developed partly in Europe’s East. With brilliance, patience, and zest, Deborah R. Coen in Climate in Motion: Science, Empire, and the Problem of Scale (University of Chicago Press, 2018) provides a gripping narrative of how the Habsburgian attempts to unify a culturally and politically turbulent empire relate to measuring and assessing the dynamics of wind, water and plant life in the nineteenth century. Faced with governing a motley realm of kingdoms, principalities and duchies and a multilingual society divided by several mountain ranges, flooding rivers, parched plains and rocky coasts, elite botanists and natural philosophers, and the civil servants of Europe’s Eastern empire developed a pioneering need for explaining atmospheric circulation and disturbances.
The Pfizer Award is awarded for the best scholarly book.
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