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Climate and Weather: Science as Public Culture

Climat et temps : la science comme culture publique

Scientific Communication and its History – III

Communication scientifique et son histoire – III

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Published on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 by Élodie Faath


This conference is the third in a series devoted to historical and contemporary perspectives on the communication of science and technology. Climate and weather provide a particularly rich and challenging case study to complete the conference series. As with other disciplines studied during the previous conferences, the climate sciences are characterised by complexity: in their professional networks; their conceptual models; and the logistics of their large-scale data and computing needs. Yet few modern scientific disciplines attract the same level of public engagement, in both everyday life and passionate debate on the future of the planet. Moreover, their status at the intersection of policy, scientific controversy and the public sphere is not a recent development: the same issues and fault lines ran through meteorology from the 18th-century onwards. Shifting interests within the history of science and the development of environmental history have greatly expanded the field in recent years. The conference will provide an opportunity to reflect on these historiographical developments via a specific focus on the communication of weather and climate from the 18th to the 21st centuries. The conference will address three themes in particular: Commodification of meteorological knowledge, Media, and Historicizing climate history.



Monday 7th January 2013

Museum of the History of Science

  • 18.00. Reception at the Museum of the History of Science including a private view of the exhibition “Atmospheres: Investigating the Weather from Aristotle to Ozone”. Welcome by Stephen Johnston, Acting Director. 

Tuesday 8th January 2013


  • 9.15: Welcome, by Cyril Van Effenterre (French Embassy), Anne Simonin (MFO), Muriel Le Roux (ENS-IHMC) and Thomas Le Roux (MFO)
  • 9.30: General introduction, by Jean-Baptiste Fressoz (Imperial College, London) and Fabien Locher (CRH-EHESS/CNRS)

9.45 – 13.00: Session “Commodification of meterological knowledge” 

Chair. John Perkins (Oxford Brookes University)

  • 9.45: Julien Vincent (University Paris I), Disembedded Weather: Labour, Free Trade, and the Political Economy of Climate in the British Empire (Mid-Nineteenth Century)
  • 10.15: Yngve Nilsen (University of Bergen), Shifting Relations Between Meteorology and Economic Interests in Norway 1860-1900

10.45 – 11.15: Coffee break

Chair. Robert Fox (University of Oxford)

  1. 11.15: Jamie L. Pietruska (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey), The U.S. Weather Bureau and the Policing of Counterfeit Weather Forecasts at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
  2. 11.45: Vladimir Jankovic (University of Manchester), Andrew Bowman (University of Manchester), Think of It As a Market Transition': Big Green Business and the Promise of Climate Crisis

12.15 – 13.00: General discussion on this session 

14.15 – 16.30: Session “Media”

Chair.  Stephen Johnston (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford)

  • 14.15: Alexander Hall (University of Manchester), Framing the Sky: The (re)Birth of Weather Forecasting on British Television, 1954
  • 14.45: Julie Hudson (Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford), If You Want to Be Green Hold your Breath’: Climate Change in British Theatre
  • 15.15: Susanne Lorenz (University of Leeds), The Communication of Scientific Uncertainty and Climate Adaptation in the Media: Comparing the UK and Germany

15.45 – 16.30: General discussion on this session

17.00: Lecture

Chair. Pietro Corsi (University of Oxford)

  • Pascal Lecomte (European Space Agency, Harwell-Oxford), Data: From Satellites to the Public. The Value of Climate Data, their Cost and How they are Perceived by the Public

Wednesday 9th January 2013


9.00 – 13.00: Session “Historicizing climate history”

Chair. Muriel Le Roux (ENS-IHMC, Paris)

  • 9.00: Anouchka Vasak (University of Poitiers), 1802, "The Invention of Clouds", as Seen from Either Side of the Channel.
  • 9.30: Thomas Labbé (University of Burgundy), Fabien Gaveau (CESDIP CNRS- French Ministry of Justice), Vinyard Harvest Dates and History of Climatology: Some New Epistemologic Reflections
  • 10.00: George N. Vlahakis (Hellenic Open University), Climate, Weather and Society in 19th century Greece 

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee break

Chair. Serge Plattard (European Space Policy Institute, Vienna)

  • 11.00: Philippe Forêt (University of St Gallen), Overland to India. The Debate on Climate Change of 1904-1914
  • 11. 30: Matthias Heymann, Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen (Aarhus University), Negotiating Simulation Knowledge: Alternative Perspectives on Climate and Climate Change

12.00 – 12.45: General discussion on this session

12.45 – 13.00: General discussion

14.00 – 15.30: Round Table “Communicating Science and its History”

This Round Table will be devoted to the entire cycle of conferences on Communicating Science and its History, organised by the MFO and held in 2011 in Oxford, in 2012 in Paris and in 2013 in Oxford. Round Table coordinated by Muriel Le Roux


Organised by the Maison Française d’Oxford, in collaboration with the Museum of the History of Science, the Faculty History of the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, the Centre Koyré (EHESS) and the Institut d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine (IHMC), and with the support of the French Embassy, London.

Organising Committee

  • Pietro Corsi, Oxford University
  • Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, Imperial College, London
  • Robert Fox, Oxford University
  • Stephen Johnston, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
  • Muriel Le Roux, ENS/IHMC, Paris – Maison Française d’Oxford
  • Thomas Le Roux, Maison Française d’Oxford
  • Fabien Locher, CRH (CNRS/EHESS), Paris
  • Jeanne Peiffer, Centre Koyré (CNRS/EHESS/MNHN), Paris
  • John Perkins, Oxford Brookes University
  • Viviane Quirke, Oxford Brookes University


  • Maison Française d'Oxford - 2-10 Norham Road
    Oxford, Britain (OX2 6SE)


  • Monday, January 07, 2013
  • Tuesday, January 08, 2013
  • Wednesday, January 09, 2013


  • science, communication, climat, temps, culture politique


  • Thomas Le Roux
    courriel : thomas [dot] le-roux [at] ehess [dot] fr

Information source

  • Thomas Le Roux
    courriel : thomas [dot] le-roux [at] ehess [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Climate and Weather: Science as Public Culture », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, December 12, 2012, https://calenda.org/231869

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