Philipp Nicolas Lehmann

Research Scholar (Sep 2014-Aug 2017)


I gained my PhD in History from Harvard in 2014. In my work, I combine themes and approaches from the history of science and technology with global environmental history, revealing the link between anxieties about environmental decline and designs to survey and control nature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I am also preparing a book manuscript based on my dissertation research. Changing Climates: Deserts, Desiccation, and the Rise of Climate Engineering, 1870–1950 examines the impact of nineteenth-century discussions about climate change and desiccation on large engineering projects in desert regions. It demonstrates that the debate over the variability of global climatic conditions was a product of both internal academic and transnational political developments, and shows that the perceived threat of advancing desert conditions found a popular and technocratic expression in a long line of climate engineering designs from the Sahara to the Eurasian steppes.


Experiencing the Global Environment


History of Bureaucratic Knowledge


Data That Travel: Climates between Africa, Europe, and the Globe


From Herodotus to Global Circulation


Selected Publications

Lehmann, P. N. (2017). Utopia. In I. Szeman, J. Wenzel, & P. Yaeger (Eds.), Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment (pp. 365-368). New York: Fordham University Press.


Lehmann, P. N. (2016). Infinite power to change the world: hydroelectricity and engineered climate change in the Atlantropa project. American Historical Review, 121(1), 70-100. doi:10.1093/ahr/121.1.70.


Lehmann, P. N. (2015). Whither climatology? Brückner's climate oscillations, data debates, and dynamic climatology. History of Meteorology, 7, 49-70.


Lehmann, P. N. (2014). Between Waterberg and Sandveld: an environmental perspective on the German-Herero War of 1904. German History, 32(4), 533-558. doi:10.1093/gerhis/ghu105.


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

“Moving Problems: An Environmental Perspective on Immigration and Internal Migration in German Africa”

University of Cambridge, U.K.

“Good Trees, Bad Trees: Colonial Debates on the Climatic Impact of Forests”

Annual Meeting of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH), Seattle, U.S.A.

“Sensing Weather, Creating Climate: German Colonial Meteorology and the Dawn of Global Climatology”

KTH Stockholm, Sweden

“Standardizing African Rain: Training, Technologies, and Practices in Colonial Meteorology”

Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology, Albuquerque, U.S.A.

“Engineering a New Continent: Hydropower and Climate Modification in the Atlantropa Project”

Fishbein Workshop in the History & Philosophy of Science, University of Chicago, U.S.A.