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.
Preface. Introduction. 1. What Do We Know about the Climate? Sources of Climate History. Causes of Climate Change. The Palaeoclimate since the Formation of the Planet. 2. Global Warming: The Holocene. Children of the Ice Age. Global Warming and Civilization. From Roman Optimum to Medieval Warm Period. 3. Global Cooling: The Little Ice Age. The Concept of the Little Ice Age. The Changing Environment. Dance of Death. Winter Blues. 4. Cultural Consequences of the Little Ice Age. The Wrathful God. Sin Economics as the Motor of Change. The Cool Sun of Reason. 5. Global Warming: The Modern Warm Period. Apparent Uncoupling from the Forces of Nature. The Discovery of Global Warming. Reactions to Climate Change. 6. Sins against the Environment and Greenhouse Climate. Notes. Further reading. Picture credits. Index.