When the Aegean island of Thera was blown apart in the Bronze Age by a volcanic explosion larger than that of Krakatoa the scale of the disaster was so great some believe it to have inspired the legend of Atlantis. When the conquistadors arrived in central America they found the civilization of the Maya - one of the most advanced societies of the ancient world, with a population of around 15 million at its peak - reduced to a few hundred thousand. What had happened? At the end of the Pleistocene period more than two-thirds of the large mammal species of North America disappeared within a period of five hundred years. Why?The author shows how environmental historians are piecing together evidence from a wide range of sources to build up a picture of what happened to these past societies and how they coped - or did not - with major episodes of climatic change and natural disaster. At a time when we are more than ever conscious of the detrimental effect we have had upon the environment. "World Without End?" provides a salutary tale for our continuing survival.