Becoming Weatherwise: A History of Climate Science in America
Open Fridays-Sundays April 8 through December 30, 2022, the new exhibition from the American Philosophical Society explores the history of climate science in America. Americans have long been curious about the weather. Europeans arriving on this continent had many questions about their new home. Temperature, precipitation, wind, and other weather phenomena drew their attention. Through observation, documentation, and collaboration—often with knowledge acquired from Indigenous peoples—they began to understand the climate.
Climate, meaning the long-term patterns of weather, impacts all aspects of American life. Understanding its patterns was especially important for an agricultural society. For centuries, scientists, farmers, military officers, and even elected officials have sought to understand climate so that they might predict, prepare for and ultimately control the weather. Modern science continues to reveal the profound implications of a changing climate and America’s role in that change. Understanding the climate matters.
From Benjamin Franklin to today, Americans have endeavored to become weatherwise.