Special Correspondent

Presentation at the C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre

Available data shows that in 1790 famine was reported in Thanjavur area

Geister’s work in Chennai in 1732-37 was elementary but consistent

CHENNAI: Contributions of three Europeans who systematically recorded the climate conditions that prevailed in the country were recalled at a meeting here on Monday. Making a presentation at the C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre on ‘Climate — data records and reforestation efforts in the 18th and 19th Century Coromandel,’ A. Raman, senior lecturer in ecological agriculture, Charles Stuart University, Orange, Australia, said while one of them recorded the climate data, the other recorded climate data and also did some reforestation work and the third did only reforestation.

Chronicling of climate data did not took place in the U.K. in the 18th Century, whereas it was done in India by the Europeans, he said. Available data showed that in 1790 famine was reported in Thanjavur area, which affected paddy production.

Johann Ernst Geister was in Chennai for five years from 1732 and stayed in George Town. Though his recordings were elementary in nature, it was astounding to note the consistency in the work. Four times a day, he recorded the weather, besides rainfall and climate. The climate was much drier during those days, the records showed.

William Roxburgh, came to Chennai during 1777 with a medical qualification and was employed as Assistant Surgeon. He recorded temperature and atmospheric pressure. He was recognised as a ‘Utilitarian Conservationist.’ When he was posted in Samalkot in the present Andhra Pradesh State, he did experimental hybridisation with sugarcane and wild pepper. Edward Green Balfour, who was also a medical practitioner, argued for admission of women to medical colleges in the 19th Century.

He played an important role in creating the Madras Museum, the zoo and military barracks in Wellington. Balfour, who was a multi-faceted personality, introduced brilliant science in medicine and was the one who observed that water, plants and public health had links. Professor Raman said Balfour was still remembered as the government named a road after him.