Another part of the work that Doel's team is doing involves the history of science and technology in the Arctic, as well as how people once thought about the environment and how that thinking has changed over time.
"One of the things I often ask my freshmen in class is, 'When was the first time that the Pentagon got interested in climate change and global warming?'" Doel said. "The brave students say maybe the 1980s; most say the 1990s. But one of the documents we got from the archives shows that one of the first in-depth discussions of polar warming occurred in the Pentagon -- it was labeled secret at the time -- in 1947. And the concern at that time was not over sustainability or the kind of concerns that motivate many currently, but, rather, national security interests. What happens, for example, if the growing season becomes longer in the Soviet Union? What happens if the harbors are ice-free for many more months out of the year? Will that increase the Soviets' strength in the world?"
Doel said that one of the more interesting developments to come out of the project has been the rare opportunity for historians to work together.
"Unlike scientific researchers, historians tend to be lone wolves, working in comparative isolation," he said. "One of the best memories I've already taken away from this are the long evening discussions with the Norwegians and the Swedes and Russians, each of us discovering something we never would have been able to know had we been working in our archives back in our home countries. It has been a marvelous collaborative experience and something that we're hoping to share with our graduate students."
Members of Doel's team, who previously met in Greenland, have just returned from a conference in Iceland. Doel hopes that they will have another opportunity to get together at a Russian conference next year. He says the group's long-term goal is to publish their research i
|Contact: Ronald E. Doel|
Florida State University