Honouring Humboldt: Research for a Sustainable World

Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), 1859. Artist Julius Schrader.

“Alexander von Humboldt has been referred to as ‘the forgotten father of environmentalism.’[1] As early as 1844, he wrote that humans change the climate ‘by cutting down forests, by changing the distribution of water bodies, and through the production of large vapour and gas masses at the centres of industry.’[2] Humboldt also described the greenhouse effect in his opus magnum, ‘Kosmos’. And time and again in his writings and in his lectures, he emphasised the interconnectedness of all living creatures on this planet. In times when the effects of climate change become ever more visible and palpable around the globe, it is imperative that the global academic community addresses the topic of sustainability in all its dimensions.”

– Dr Thomas Hesse, Deputy Chair, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Volume 135 of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria is now available online, open access from CSIRO Publishing, hosted at https://www.publish.csiro.au/rs/issue/11551 . This volume is substantively dedicated to the theme ‘Humboldtian Research towards a Sustainable World,’ drawn from the proceedings of the 19th Biennial Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Associations of von Humboldt Fellows in 2022.

There is an additional paper from Dr Thomas Darragh and Dr Ruth Pullin, translating letters from the celebrated German painter Eugene von Guerrard, then based in Australia, to the Ethnological Museum in Berlin from 1878 – 1880, along with the collected abstracts from colleagues presenting at the RSV’s 2022 symposium on ‘Next Generation Biocontrol of Invasive Vertebrate Pests.’



[1] Andrea Wulf, ‘The Forgotten Father of Environmentalism’ in The Atlantic, 23 December 2015 (https://www.theatlantic. com/science/archive/2015/12/the-forgotten-father-of-environmentalism/421434/).

[2] ‘durch Fällen der Wälder, durch Veränderung in der Vertheilung der Gewässer und durch die Entwicklung großer Dampf- und Gasmassen an den Mittelpunkten der Industrie‘ quoted in Frank Holl (2018), Alexander von Humboldt und der Klimawandel: Mythen und Fakten HiN XIX, 37.