• Title: The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
  • Author: Brian Fagan
  • Released: 2009-03-03
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 304
  • ISBN: 159691601X
  • ISBN13: 978-1596916012
  • ASIN: 159691601X
From Publishers Weekly Global warming is hardly new; in fact, the very long-term trend began about 12,000 years ago with the end of the Ice Age. Anthropologist Fagan (The Little Ice Age) focuses on the medieval warming period (ca. 800-1300), which helped Europe produce larger harvests; the surpluses helped fund the great cathedrals. But in many other parts of the world, says Fagan, changing water and air currents led to drought and malnutrition, for instance among the Native Americans of Northern California, whose key acorn harvests largely failed. Long-term drought contributed to the collapse of the Mayan civilization, and fluctuations in temperature contributed to, and inhibited, Mongol incursions into Europe. Fagan reveals how new research methods like ice borings, satellite observations and computer modeling have sharpened our understanding of meteorological trends in prehistorical times and preliterate cultures. Finally, he notes how times of intense, sustained global warming can have particularly dire consequences; for example, by 2025, an estimated 2.8 billion of us will live in areas with increasingly scarce water resources. Looking backward, Fagan presents a well-documented warning to those who choose to look forward. Illus., maps. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Fagan is a great guide. His canvas may be smaller than Jared Diamond's Collapse , but Fagan's eye for detail and narrative skills are better.” —New Scientist

“[A] fascinating account of shifting climatic conditions and their consequences.” —New York Times

“The Great Warming is a thought-provoking read, which marshals a remarkable range of learning.”  —Financial Times

“‘The Great Warming' is a riveting work that will take your breath away and leave you scrambling for a cool drink of water. The latter is a luxury to enjoy in the present, Fagan notes, because it may be in very short supply in the future.”   —Christian Science Monitor

“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 Alfred Crosby, William H. McNeill, and Jared Diamond, 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

“This is not only World History at its best, sweeping across all of humankind with a coherent vision, but also a feat of imagination and massive research. If Fagan has given the medieval period throughout the globe a new dimension, he has at the same time issued an irrefutable warning about climate change that is deeply troubling.” Theodore Rabb, author of The Last Days of the Renaissance

“Climate has been making history for a very long time, though historians have rarely paid much attention to it. But as it turns out, a few less inches of rain, a change in temperature of just a degree or two can make all the difference in how human events unfold. The Great Warming demonstrates that although human beings make history, they very definitely do not make it under circumstances of their own choosing.” Ted Steinberg, author of Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History and American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn "Anthropology and archaeology have demonstrated that human responses to changes in climate, no matter how severe, are always conditioned by culture and mediated by a society’s institutions and technologies. Anthropologists and archaeologists are fortunate to have in Brian Fagan a gifted and committed intellectual ambassador who can convincingly articulate this critical point to a broader audience."—Environment and Society  "In his ability to bring nature into our global, historical narratives, Fagan rivals Alfred Crosby, William H. McNeill, and Jared Diamond, scholars who revealed to large audiences the explanatory power of microscopic biota or gross geography. Fagan promises to do the same for long-term climate dynamics. He proves that the regional volatility associated with climate change … shaped societies."—The American Scholar

 

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