Analysis on the acceptance of western climatology in China from the 1920s to 1970s indicates that although the first generation of climatologists in China accepted the idea of climate change easily, they chose to keep a distance from a radical viewpoint of abrupt climate change, the utilitarian climate effects on human society, etc. This is partially due to the changing political background during this period, but the more essential reason is people's attitude towards natural disasters that could be traced to pre-modern times. A somewhat familiar question is then raised: why didn't the changing climate draw Chinese people's attention despite abundant historical meteorological records? This leads to the question: do people with different cultural backgrounds show different tendencies in their reactions towards the problem of climate change. Is there a particular cultural tradition affecting this difference.
This research focuses on cultural differences in climate knowledge and ideas. The central issue is: to what extent did the attitudes towards climate change depend on different cultural traditions and to what extent did they root in the intrinsic logic of the history of climate science?
The project consists of three related parts: I. Chinese traditional thoughts on climate and weather. II. Classical Western knowledge about climate and its eastward spread into China. III. Climatic determinism and reductionism in the modernization of climatology both in China and in the West.