The Great Warming
What a difference a degree makes. From the tenth to the fifteenth century the earth experienced a rise in average temperature that changed climate worldwide - a preview of today's global waming. As acclaimed archaeologist Brian Fagan shows in these pages, subtle shifts in the environment had far-reaching effects on human life.
In western Europe, longer summers brought bountiful harvests and population growth that led to cultural flowering: we may have the Great Warming to thank for the great cathedrals. In the Arctic, Inuit and Norse sailors made cultural connections across thousands of miles, trading precious iron goods. In the Pacific, Polynesian sailors, riding new wind patterns, were able to settle the remotest islands on the earth. But in many part of the globe, the warm centuries brought drought, famine, and misery. In North and Central America, elaborate societies collapsed, and the vast building complexes of Chaco Canyon and the Mayan Yucatan were left desolate.
As he did in his bestselling The Little Ice Age, Fagan unfolds both a scientific detective story, showing how centuries-old weather patterns can be reconstructed from scarttered clues, and a vivid and timely historical narrative. A study of the Great Warming suggests 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".
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