Quantifying scarcity: deforestation in the Upper Volga Region and early debates over climate change in nineteenth century Russia
The paper examines the early history of environmental concerns in Russia. It focuses on a case-study – the debates about a potentially detrimental impact of deforestation on water regimes, which took place in the 1830s-1840s. It examines two sets of issues: the role of ideas about a growing scarcity of forest resources in Europe, and the actual state of forests in Russia that provided some evidentiary basis for these debates. It argues that these debates were possible at the convergence of several trends: an expanding role and objectives of the forest administration well-versed in European scientific debates of the age and at the same time a visible danger of deforestation in some regions of a strategic significance to the empire. The author also considers different expert cultures and evidentiary standards that could be observed during the debates.