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Climate Change Institute

Alexander More

Assistant Research Professor

Alexander More

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Harvard University
35 Quincy Street 201 
Cambridge, MA  02138


Alexander More is a historian whose research focuses on the impact of climate change on population health and the economy. By using both climate science and historical records, More brings recent drastic changes into a broader perspective, one that permits stark comparisons between current and historical trends in temperature, pollution, pandemic disease, and extreme weather, all of which directly impact food production, human health, economic prosperity, and political stability. He is author of two landmark studies of pre-industrial climate and pollution and currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of History at Harvard University, under the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past, and is concurrently Assistant Research Professor at the Climate Change Institute (University of Maine), where he leads a project on the impact of climate change on population health and the economy in the last millennium. In addition to academic journals, his work has been featured in The Guardian, Popular Science Magazine, The Washington Post, Smithsonian MagazineDer SpiegelArchaeology MagazineSüddeutsche ZeitungThe Daily MailFrankfurter AllgemeinAtlas ObscuraEos, Science et vie, and many other print and online publications (see media page).
The implications of his data bring him to study government response to environmental and public health crises. He is completing a book on the origins of welfare and health care policy in the western world, a long-standing interest that gained him an internship in the Office of Senator Ted Kennedy while still in graduate school. More’s interests have taken him to traditional archival repositories, as well as to expeditions to archaeological sites across Europe, North America and Oceania, including several underwater surveys in the Mediterranean, North Atlantic and South Pacific.
Raised and educated in Europe in the early part of his life, More moved permanently to New York City to complete his secondary education. He attended college in Chicago and eventually Washington University in St. Louis. Immediately after graduation, he continued his studies in an interdisciplinary PhD program at Harvard University, where he has taught ten different courses and earned as many teaching awards. 
More is a former junior fellow of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library in Washington, D.C. and a recipient of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Research Grant.
Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of History, Harvard University, Initiative for the Science of the Human Past, 2015-present
Managing Editor of Harvard's Digital Historical Atlas (DARMC) 2017-present.
Lecturer on the History of Science (U.S. and European health and welfare) 2015-16.


- More, Alexander F., et al., "The role of historical context in understanding past climate, pollution and health data in trans-disciplinary studies," under review, GeoHealth (AGU), Nov. 2017.

– More, Alexander F., et al., "Next Generation Ice Core Technology Reveals True Minimum Natural Levels of Lead (Pb) in the Atmosphere: Insights from the Black Death,"  GeoHealth (AGU), 2017 (DOI:  10.1002/2017GH000064)
– More, Alexander F. M., "At the Origins of Welfare Policy: Law and the Economy in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean," (PhD Dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2014).

- With Luongo et al., "Possible Icelandic Tephra Found in European Colle Gnifetti Glacier," G-Cubed (AGU), October, 2017. 

– With M. McCormick et al., “Climate Change: A First Synthesis Based on Multi-Proxy Natural Scientific and Historical Evidence,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 43.2 (2012): 169-220.

– More, Alexander F. Medico, “Averroe,” “Pietro d’Abano,” and “Veronica Franco,” in A. Prosperi and V. Lavenia eds., Dizionario Storico dell’Inquisizione (Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore, 2010).

– More, Alexander F. “Civic Medicine,” and “Averroës of Cordoba” in Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages, ed. Robert E. Bjork (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).


Invited Lectures & Conference Papers

- “Linking Glaciochemical and Historical Evidence to Study the Impact of Climate Change and Air Pollution on Human Populations in the Last Millennium,” American Geophysical Union, December 14, 2017.

- "Climate Change, Pollution and Human Survival in the Last Millennium: The Consilience of Historical and Scientific Records," CCI, Nov. 3rd, 2017.

– "Climate Change and Human Survival in the last 700 years (and the next 50)," keynote address, Harvard Conservation Trust, Nov. 10, 2016.

– “Climate Change and the Health of Pre-Modern Europeans,” in “2,000 Years of European Climate: First Results from the SoHP Historical Ice Core Project,” Initiative for the Science of the Human Past, Harvard University, Nov. 11, 2015. (link to event page and video of the talk)

– With P. Bohleber et al., "Linking Two Thousand Years of European Historical Records with Environmental Change Recorded in a High Alpine ice core" European Geoscience Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, March 17, 2016.

– “From Shawmut to the Big Dig: The History of Boston in One Hour,” invited lecture, Massachusetts State House, April 29, 2013.

– "At the Origins of Welfare Policy: Legal Heritage and Economic Policies in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean," Delivered at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Museum, Washington, D.C., April, 2011. 

– “Mapping the Pre-Modern Mediterranean: Food, Health and Climate,” two-day seminar lecture delivered at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Washington D.C., July 16-17, 2009.

– More, Alexander F. “Provisioning in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean,” delivered at the ICMS, MI, May, 2009.

Expert interviews and media

"We've been poisoning ourselves for the last 2000 years," The Guardian.

"A 14th-century plague helped reveal just how long humans have polluted the planet," Popular Science Magazine.

"Humans Polluted the Air Much Earlier than Previously Thought," Smithsonian Magazine.

"L'homme rejette du plomb dans l'atmosphère depuis au moins 2000 ans," Science et Vie.

"Human Activity Has Polluted European Air for 2000 Years," Eos (American Geophysical Union).

"Europe's Lead Pollution Dropped to Zero Only Once in the Last 2000 Years: And All it Took Was the Black Death," Atlas Obscura.

"Die Bleizeit," [The Lead Age] Süddeutsche Zeitung.

"Humans are to blame for lead pollution: Study of glacial ice reveals the toxin was not present in the air when industry was brought to a standstill by the Black Death," Daily Mail.

"Harvard Study Challenges Assumptions of Natural Lead Levels," Harvard Gazette.

"Die größte Wirtschaftskatastrophe der Geschichte," Der Spiegel.

"Die Sünden der Alten," Frankfurter Allgemeine.

"Le plomb: une pollution ancienne," Journal de l'Environnement

"Bleigehalt: Nur die Pest sorgte für saubere Luft," Der Standard.

"Analyse van ijskern onthult de waarheid over lood: "We zijn onszelf al 2.000 jaar aan het vergiftigen" [Analysis of ice core reveals the truth about lead: we've been poisoning ourselves for the last 2000 years] De Morgen.

"SoHP and Climate Change Institute Awarded $.5M Arcadia Grant for Historical Ice Core Project," Harvard Gazette.

"The Science of History," Harvard Magazine, March-April 2016.

"Climate Data Suggests Famine Worsened the Black Death," Archaeology, January 07, 2016.

"Did Climate Change Worsen the Black Death," Harvard Gazette, January 5, 2016.

"Hamilton Takes Harvard," Harvard Law Record, Nov. 16, 2015.

Digital Publications

In DARMC Scholarly Data Series (full list here)

– With M. McCormick et. al., "Draft 1: Western European Climate from Written Sources, 1000-1425 AD," DARMC Scholarly Data Series 2015-2(2015) link.

– With M. McCormick and K. Harper, "Historical Evidence on Roman and Post-Roman Climate, 100 BC to 800 AD," DARMC Scholarly Data Series2012-1 (2012).

– With M. McCormick, "Archaeology of Rats and Disease, 1-1500DARMC Scholarly Data Series 2013-3 (2013) link to shapefile (map) version. 

– With M. McCormick, "Summary Geodatabase of European Shipwrecks," DARMC Scholarly Data Series 2013-1 (2013) link.

Map layers in Harvard's digital historical atlas (full list and files available on DARMC page): 
- Roman Climate, Historical Evidence
- Archaeology of Rats and Disease, 1-1500
- Shipwrecks, 1-1500
- Pre-modern economy (12 maps)
- Pre-modern culture and religion (5 maps)
- Pre-modern infrastructures and roads (9 maps)


Links to projects

Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard and its project on the history of climate.

Digital Historical Atlas (DARMC)




Ph.D. Harvard University

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