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A Cultural History of Climate. Edition No. 1

  • ID: 2250238
  • Book
  • November 2009
  • 280 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Global warming and the future of the climate is one of the greatest challenges of our time, but what do we know about climate variations 500 years ago, or 5000 years ago? How can we know anything at all about the history of weather? What impact have climate changes had on human prosperity and the spirit of invention?

In this major new book Wolfgang Behringer introduces us to the latest historical research on the development of the earth's climate. He focuses above all on the cultural reactions to climate change through the ages, showing how even minor changes in the climate sometimes resulted in major social, political and religious upheavals. By examining how our predecessors responded to climate changes, Behringer provides us with a fresh basis for thinking about how we might address the serious climatic challenges we face today.

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Preface vii

Introduction 1

1. What Do We Know about the Climate? 8

Sources of Climate History 8

Causes of Climate Change 14

The Palaeoclimate since the Formation of the Planet 20

2. Global Warming: The Holocene 31

Children of the Ice Age 31

Global Warming and Civilization 39

From Roman Optimum to Medieval Warm Period 60

3. Global Cooling: The Little Ice Age 85

The Concept of the Little Ice Age 85

The Changing Environment 88

Dance of Death 103

Winter Blues 115

4. Cultural Consequences of the Little Ice Age 121

The Wrathful God 121

Sin Economics as the Motor of Change 133

The Cool Sun of Reason 146

5. Global Warming: The Modern Warm Period 168

Apparent Uncoupling from the Forces of Nature 168

The Discovery of Global Warming 182

Reactions to Climate Change 191

6. Epilogue: Sins against the Environment and Greenhouse Climate 206

Notes 218

Further reading 262

Index 264

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Wolfgang Behringer Professor of History and Chair of Early Modern History at Saarland University, Germany.
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