Eduard Brückner
The Sources and Consequences of Climate Change and Climate Variability in Historical Times
Selected Writings

translated by Gordon Gamlin and Barbara Stehr

edited and introduced by

Nico Stehr
Green College, The University of British Columbia
6201 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z1, Canada


Hans von Storch
Institut für Gewässerphysik, GKSS Forschungszentrum
Max-Planck-Straße 1, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany

Kluwer, 1999

Table of Contents

    This anthology of studies on anthropogenic climate change and the social political and economic impact of climate variations on societies in historical times by the eminent geographer and climate scientist Eduard Brückner (1862-1927) for the first time assembles his pioneering work in English. The issues discussed by Brückner are now considered to be among the most pressing facing modern society and climate research. At the turn of the twentieth century, Brückner was one of the central protagonists in a vigorous debate in science and society about global climate variability and its political and economic significance.
        The studies published here were chosen to demonstrate Brückner’s wide ranging scientific interest in climate variability, his extensive empirical research and theoretical analysis of climate change, his assessment of contemporary analyses and thinking about anthropogenic climate change (such as the wide spread concern about desiccation), and how he approached the questions of the transfer of scientific knowledge into society.
        In many ways Brückner was a thoroughly modern scientist, convinced for example that the issue of climate change and its impact was of considerable scientific merit and that future climate changes are of great significance for the well-being of humankind as well as for the global balance of political and economic relations.
        Brückner’s formidable ideas should have a significant impact on our present views of climate, climate variability and climate impact.

Introduction: Nico Stehr and Hans von Storch, Climate Change, Climate Policies and Society


Original Papers

  1. Ground Water and Typhus (original publication date: 1887-1888)
  2. Fluctuations of Water Levels in the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea Relative to Weather (1888)
  3. How Constant is Today's Climate? (1889)
  4. Climate Change since 1700 (1890)
    1. The Current Status of the Inquiry into Climate Changes
    2. Periodization of Climatic Variations
    3. The Significance of Climatic Variations in Theory and Practice
  5. About the Influence of the Snow Cover on the Climate of the Alps (1893)
  6. Influence of Climate Variability on Harvest and Grain Prices in Europe (1895)
  7. Weather Prophets (1896)
  8. An Inquiry About the 35 Year Periods of Climatic Variations (1902).
  9. About Climate Variability (1909)
  10. Climate Variability and Mass Migration (1912)
  11. The Settlement of the United States as Controlled by Climate and Climatic Oscillations (1915)


"I had spoken of the rich years when the rainfall was plentiful. But there were dry years too, and they put a terror on the valley. The water came in a thirty-year cycle. There would be five or six wet and wonderful years when there might be nineteen to twenty-five inches of rain, and the land would shout with grass. Then would come six or seven pretty good years of twelve to sixteen inches of rain. And then the dry years would come, and sometimes there would only be seven or eight inches of rain. The land dried up and the grasses headed out miserably a few inches high and great bare scabby places appeared in the valley..." John Steinbeck "East of Eden"