Philipp Lehmann's Desert Edens explores how European scientists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries understood the effects of climate and the role of human design in ecological change. By the late nineteenth century, European scientists had a long tradition of what we would today call “climate science.” Lehmann, however, situates his work in a distinct moment of departure when European climate engineers sought to bring the full force of industrial design to bear on issues of climate and ecology. Moving from an early-century focus on individual regions or microclimates, European scientists developed a global vision of climate and ecology by the 1880s. Combining this broader vision with an ascendant “declensionist narrative” that sought to explain the perceived decline of North African ecological and “civilizational” landscapes, these scientists devised large-scale environmental projects intended to interrupt what they saw as negative climate developments as well as the supposedly backward cultural...

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