This book provides historical perspectives on the climate apprehensions of scientists and the general public from the Englightenment to the late twentieth century. Issues discussed include what people have understood, experienced, and feared about the climate and its changes in the past; how privileged and authoritative positions on climate have been established; the paths by which we have arrived at our current state of knowledge and apprehension; and what a study of the past has to offer to the interdisciplinary investigation of environmental problems. Chapters explore climate and culture in Englightenment thought; climate debates in early America; the development of international networks of observation; the scientific transformation of climate discourse; and early contributions to understanding terrestrial temperature changes, infrared radiation, and the carbon dioxide theory of climate. Although today's greatest climate debate concern is "global warming", the book points out that global cooling and global warming have been in the public spotlight atleast twice since the 1890s.
The epilogue argues for a view of global change and its human dimensions rendered more complete by a study of the intellectual, social, and cultural changes that preceded the current environmental crisis.