On October 27, Austrian Scientist of the Year Verena Winiwarter spoke at the Embassy of Austria in Washington D.C. Her evening talk, hosted by Embassy's Office of Science and Technology Austria, focused on how, in environmental history, human intervention with nature often results in unintentional impacts on the environment, economy, and social conditions. To avoid repeating mistakes of the past, environmental historians tell stories of both success and failure and how they contribute to sustainable futures. Such stories include the regulation of the Danube River, and the management of forests in pre-modern Salzburg. To Verena Winiwarter, neither are stories of collapse. Five hundred years of regulating the Danube in Vienna leaves Austria with a profoundly transformed river, and irreversible consequences. As many plans did not turn out as intended, looking at environmental history leaves historians with valuable lessons from the past.
The lecture was followed by an evening reception in the Embassy's atrium, where guests continued to discuss the points brought up during the presentation. Winiwarter is known for being an environmental historian and Rachel Carson Center Board Member. She was named the 2013 Austrian Scientist of the Year and since 2010 has been dean of the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Alpen-Adria- Universitaet Klagenfurt. In 2013, the Austrian Club of Education and Science Journalists elected Winiwarter as Austrian Scientist of the Year for her exceptional research and her ability and dedication to explaining her research to the non-scientific public.
Text courtesy of Office of Science and Technology Austria (OSTA).