A breakout best seller on how the earth's previous global warming phase reshaped human societies from the Arctic to the Sahara.
From the 10th to the 15th centuries, the earth experienced a rise in surface temperature that changed climate worldwide, a preview of today's global warming. In some areas, including Western Europe, longer summers brought bountiful harvests and population growth that led to cultural flowering. In the Arctic, Inuit and Norse sailors made cultural connections across thousands of miles as they traded precious iron goods. Polynesian sailors, riding new wind patterns, were able to settle the remotest islands on earth. But in many parts of the world, the warm centuries brought drought and famine. Elaborate societies in western and Central America collapsed, and the vast building complexes of Chaco Canyon and the Mayan Yucatn were left empty.
The history of the Great Warming of a half millennium ago suggests that we may yet be underestimating the power of climate change to disrupt our lives today - and our vulnerability to drought, writes Fagan, is the silent elephant in the room.
“Brian Fagan offers a unique contribution to this discussion [of climate change]...Readers should not underestimate this book, writing it off as another addition to a burgeoning genre: the travel guide to a torrid world. Fagan’s project is much bigger. He re-creates past societies in a lively and engaging manner, aided by his expert synthesis of obscure climatological data...In his ability to bring nature into our global, historical narratives, Fagan rivals...scholars who revealed to large audiences the explanatory power of microscopic biota or gross geography. Fagan promises to do the same for longterm climate dynamics...We would be fools to ignore his warnings.” (American Scholar)
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