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Enlightenment's FrontierThe Scottish Highlands and the Origins of Environmentalism$
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Fredrik Albritton Jonsson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300162547

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300162547.001.0001

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Improving the Scottish Climate

Improving the Scottish Climate

(p.69) 3 Improving the Scottish Climate
Enlightenment's Frontier

Fredrik Albritton Jonsson

Yale University Press

This chapter begins with the story of a dry, sulfurous fog that enveloped Europe in the summer of 1783. The fog was bitter to the taste, stung the eyes, and degraded plants with an acidic bite. The chapter considers the broader controversies surrounding the issue of climate in the age of the Enlightenment. The conventional identification of climate with latitude competed with neo-Hippocratic views that stressed its contingency and complexity. Many natural historians contended that human settlement might alleviate, and eventually improve, a bad climate. A minority of observers sought to quantify the physical parameters of climate by collecting meteorological data, but most preferred to discuss climate in qualitative terms. Interest in species mobility and ecological exchange often overshadowed concerns regarding the climate's physical characteristics. In all of these, the Scottish Highlands offered a laboratory for rival hypotheses.

Keywords:   issue of climate, Enlightenment, latitude, neo-Hippocratic views, contingency, complexity, human settlement, meteorological data, species mobility, ecological exchange

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