Historical Perspectives on Climate Change

How will climate change affect human societies worldwide in the coming years?  It is difficult to envision all of the potential ramifications of climate change, but disaster planners certainly need to prepare for extreme climate events.

One of the best ways to gauge the potential consequences of climate changes is to study past periods of climate change. Climate scientists, geologists, and archaeologists have been examining the long climatic history of the earth for some time. Historians are increasingly joining in the efforts to reconstruct the “deep history” of the planet’s climate.

One of the main areas of historical work on climate change is the “Little Ice Age” of the seventeenth century, also sometimes referred to as the “General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century.” A period of global cooling, or “Little Ice Age” has been documented during the seventeenth century, and the cold temperatures contributed to significant economic and social disruptions in many regions of the globe.


Geoffrey Parker, one of the preeminent historians of the “General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century,” recently published a new study of seventeenth-century climate change, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century (Yale University Press, 2013). The book promises to draw together the past three decades of studies of climate change in the early modern world. Yale University Press provides a book description on its website.

Parker summarizes his argument in a piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

This entry was posted in Atlantic World, Civilians and Refugees in War, Early Modern Europe, Early Modern World, Environmental History, European History, European Wars of Religion, History of Science, Maritime History, Mediterranean World, State Development Theory, Warfare in the Early Modern World. Bookmark the permalink.

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