The Great Warming kindle ¸ Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations ½ Brian M Fagan

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The Great Warming kindle ¸ Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations ½ Brian M. Fagan ½ From the 10th to 15th centuries the earth experienced a rise in surface temperature that changed climate worldwide a preview of today's global warming In some areas includinEs in the environment had far reaching effects on human life in a narrative that sweeps from the Arctic ice cap to the Sahara to the Indian Ocean The lessons of history suggest we may be yet be underestimating the power of climate change to disrupt our lives tod Subtitle Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations Brian Fagan has written a few dozen books and several of them have to do with past climatic changes For example he has written on the Little Ice Age between 1300 and 1850 This book is on a previous period from roughly AD 800 to 1200 when Europe and much of the rest of the world was unusually warmAny book on a period of global warming of course is going to have as a perhaps silent but never far forgotten backdrop the current period of global warming and what conseuences it may have for us Some may dislike this book's point of view because it asserts mostly implicitly that global warming of even a degree or two can have profound conseuences and even wreck some civilizations such as the Maya or Angkor Others may dislike having it pointed out that even in the absence of widespread burning of fossil fuels the global temperature has varied over the centuries with large enough swings to change the weather If you're trying to convince people that the 'delicate balance of nature' is being upended by the thoughtless greed of humanity it may seem dangerously off message to discuss at great length how climate change was already happening a thousand years agoFortunately Fagan seems to be fact minded enough to ignore both objectionsThe Great Warming has apparently been written about for over half a century but in the last decade or two much new information has come to light We have tree ring derived estimates of climate change going back a couple millennia for many different parts of the world Something similar has been done with coral growth Fagan introduces us to some historical records related to weather which reflect different culture's particular hangups in east Asia we have records of the day of the year when the cherry blossoms were first seen whereas in France we have records going back centuries related to the grape harvests for wineIt's a lot of different sources to put together and then it has to be compared to what is known about history from conventional sources One of the interesting things Fagan points out is that often the conventional historical records gloss over the droughts and famines and floods in favor of detailed discussions of military campaigns and royal infighting Comparing it to the recently accumulated records on rainfall and the length of the growing season however and we can see that in many cases it was the abundance or scarcity of crops that was moving one nation or tribe to attack another Were the people at the time unaware of what was really driving their history? Or was there just no market for a chronicler who wrote that Genghis Khan came storming out of central Asia to menace and partially conuer Europe and China because drought had caused the pasturage in his homelands to be unable to support the Mongols' population and thus it was conuer or die? Chroniclers have always depended on patrons and few patrons pay to have their actions reduced to climatic necessityThere are also sources such as the Mayan historical records which have only been deciphered in the last few decades and thus we have a lot history to compare to the climate change indicators tree rings etc Fagan is very broad ranging in his analysis of the history of these centuries he spends as much time on the Mayans and Pueblo as on the Greenland Norse and other European or European derived people Some of them like the pre Incan civilizations of the Moche and Chimu are not histories I have heard before The arrival of the Spanish conuistadores is placed in a much greater context if the Aztec and Incan empires are not static entities prior to their arrival but the latest groups to win at King of the Hill standing atop the rubble of empires that came beforeIn a similar way it sheds some additional light on some of our current cities such as LA Phoenix and Las Vegas to read tales of the Pueblo in southwest North America and the Angkor in southeast Asia To be perfectly frank I don't believe that cities of anything like their current size will exist in Phoenix or Las Vegas half a century from now and while the position of Los Angeles next to the ocean improves their odds somewhat the sustainable water sources near there at least raise the uestionFagan spends almost no time discussing the parallels to modern uestions about climate change although in the last chapter he does for a bit This is a good choice on his part since most readers of this book will have doubtless heard much about that already Voices on both sides of that debate yes there are than two sides but it is not as if they are not aligned along two predominant planes have mostly analyzed this uestion from underinformed positions Climate change and resource exhaustion have been encountered before in human history but up until now the people who grappled with the conseuences had no option of learning what the experience of others had been We unlike the peoples of the past do have such an option; best that we take advantage of it Fagan's book is a good place to start

kindle Ì Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations ß Brian M. Fagan

T led to cultural flowering In others drought shook long established societies such as the Maya and the Indians of the American Southwest whose monumental buildings were left deserted as elaborate social structures collapsed Brian Fagan examines how subtle chang Fagan relates fascinatingly detailed evidence on medieval climate shifts and their effects on historic events around the world He aligns data from pollen samples and lake sediments with the collapse of urban civilizations in Mexico and Cambodia or the rise of nomadic empires like that of Genghis Khan A picture emerges of what happens when temperatures rise as they are rising now And the picture is not pretty Over most of the world it involves drought and famine with millions of refugees on the move The vulnerability of civilization appears stark And of course The analogies to modern day California with its aueducts for water hungry Los Angeles or to cities such as Tucson Arizona with its shrinking auifers and falling water table are irresistible

Brian M. Fagan ß Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations pdf

The Great Warming Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of CivilizationsFrom the 10th to 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 much of Western Europe longer summers brought bountiful crops and population growth tha Like Guns Germs and Steel which is Jared Diamond’s masterpiece The Great Warming is one of those grand sweeping books that covers centuries of civilizations around the planet To summarize it’s about global climate and the winners and losers a warmer climate creates When the planet gets warmer most places get drier Then it gets complicated And not very cheerfulThe Great Warming focuses on the Medieval period from about 800 1300 It starts with Western and Northern Europe one of the great winners during this period As Europe warmed and became somewhat less rainy good things happened for Europe’s farmers The growing season got about three weeks longer That combined with a few critical farming technological innovations better plows efficient horse harnesses 3 field crop rotation meant lots bigger harvests And for the first and last time vineyards thrived in England It also meant huge population growth from about 30 million to 85 million during 1100 1350 and widespread deforestation The economic surpluses of this era were also a great boost for cathedral building to the enduring benefit of European tourism a few centuries later Meanwhile as the North Atlantic warmed and the ice retreated the Norse spread westward to Iceland in late 800’s and later to Greenland and even Eastern Canada as far south as L’Anse au Meadows at the northern tip of Newfoundland Then came the Little Ice Age starting in the early 1300’s and lasting until the early 1800’s Helped along by the arrival of the Black Death in 1347 and the large drop in crop harvests the population of Europe crashed and took 300 years or to recover The Norse populations of Greenland died out altogether by 1450 Unexpected benefit of the Little Ice Age The English enjoyed centuries of white Christmases leading to a whole catalog of Christmas carols about a snowy English countryside Had it looked like the water logged scenes of rural England in January today would we ever have had Jingle Bells?Although Europe thrived during the Medieval Warming much of the rest of the planet was plunged into drought And that’s what most of the rest of the book is about A few examples include• Mongolia and Northern China These areas generally became drier The Tang dynasty fell by the early 900’s as crops failed Much later as the Mongolian steppes dried out the Mongols under Genghis Khan hit the saddle in the early 1200’s and conuered a good part of the Asian land mass from northern China to Russia and even as far as Poland before the rains returned and the Mongols settled down once again• Western North America If you have ever visited the ruins of Chaco Canyon the Canyon de Chelly or Mesa Verde you’ve seen some of the Indian villages and ceremonial centers that were abandoned due to the mega droughts that struck during the Medieval Warming period in the American West These peoples dispersed to flee starvation in the 1100’s• Central America In the southern lowlands of the Mayan Empire which includes such great cities as Tikal in Guatemala and Copan in Honduras the droughts came early during this period By about the early 900’s these cities had fallen Highly dependent on sophisticated water management systems to sustain agriculture when these failed during extended droughts the city states collapsed Other factors contributed heavily invasion from Mexico overpopulation a political system that was a uasi theocracy supporting a small literate elite wars between the city states But drought was a major contributing factor that helped bring the whole system crashing downAfter a while this catalog of civilizations and their climatic political demographic histories over a period of multiple centuries can become somewhat overwhelming but you don’t need to read the whole book to get the idea Make sure you read the final chapter which looks at some of the implications for today’s situation Since 1860 the planetary thermometer has been rising steadily upward and at an increasing rate Since a hotter planet is a drier planet places that are semi arid or have uncertain rainfall today are going to be in and trouble Today many of those places are in the world’s poorest places particularly in Africa parts of South America and parts of Asia Drought famine and mass movements of refugees look like a probable scenarioIf you live in California as I do it’s pretty sobering to consider the historical parallels with the medieval era Overwhelmingly this is a dry state getting drier every year even as its population continues to climb Good thing we re did the landscaping and took out the lawn this year Next step buying land in British Columbia