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The Climate Connection: Climate Change and Modern Human Evolution

By: Renee Hetherington and Robert GB Reid

422 pages, b/w illustrations, colour & b/w maps, tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Mar 2010 | #184344 | ISBN-13: 9780521147231
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £40.99 $50/€46 approx
Hardback | Mar 2010 | #184350 | ISBN-13: 9780521197700
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £76.99 $94/€86 approx

About this book

Highlights the influence of saltatory evolution and rapid climate change on human evolution, migration and behavioural change. Growing concern over the potential impacts of climate change on our future is clearly evident. In order to better understand our present circumstances and deal effectively with future climate change, society needs to become more informed about the historical connection between climate and humans.

The authors' combined research in the fields of climate change, evolutionary biology, Earth sciences and human migration and behaviour complement each other, and have facilitated an innovative and integrated approach to the human evolution-climate connection. The Climate Connection provides an in-depth text linking 135,000 years of climate change with human evolution and implications for our future, for those working and interested in the field and those embarking on upper-level courses on this topic.

Hetherington and Reid have undertaken the first comprehensive scientific review and analysis of the connections between human biology and its evolution, human pre-history and history on a global basis, and of planetary and regional climate throughout time as it has affected all biological life, including the activities of humans and their societies. The result is a very readable story, meticulously researched and well referenced, of us as human animals: what we are as well as who we are and how we got that way, of our genetic make-up and adaptations, of the development of behavioural capacities to cope with changes in our environment, and how successive fairly sudden changes in climate at long intervals have stressed human populations and stimulated the survivors to develop new capacities and new tools, and thus ultimately to result in our present societies, institutions and behaviours, which in the last century are themselves bringing about changes in climate that threaten new or catastrophic stresses. It is a profound and vitally important story, and one that provides a solid scientific background to our current environmental, social, economic, and political dilemmas. This book is a significant contribution to the understanding of perhaps the most serious issue of our times.
- Fred Roots, Science Advisor Emeritus, Environment Canada and Chair of the Canadian National Committee for the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme


1. Introduction

Part I. Early Human History
2. From ape to human: the emergence of hominids
3. Human behavioural evolution
4. The migration and diaspora of Homo

Part II. Climate During the Last Glacial Cycle
5. Climate change over the last 135,000 years
6. The effect of 135,000 years of changing climate on the global landscape

Part III. The Interaction Between Climate and Humans
7. The interaction between climate and humans
8. Climate and agriculture
9. Climate and our future

Appendix A. The biological background to the story of evolution: the book within the book
A.1. Evolutionary adaptability
A.2. Developmental evolution
A.3. Human adaptability: the physiological foundation


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Renee Hetherington obtained a B.A. (Business and Economics) from Simon Fraser University, Canada in 1981, a Master's of Business from the University of Western Ontario, Canada in 1985, and an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. (Anthropology, Biology, Geography, and Geology) from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 2002. She was awarded a National Science and Engineering Research doctoral fellowship for her work reconstructing the paleogeography and paleoenvironment of the Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii. The Social Sciences and Humanities Council subsequently awarded her a postdoctoral fellowship for her research relating climate change to human evolution and adaptability over the last 135,000 years. She is co-leader of International Geological Correlation Program Project 526 'Risks, Resources and Record of the Past on the Continental Shelf.' She and her husband Bob are partners in RIT Minerals Corp., a consulting company whose expertise is committed to helping organizations, especially in the resource sector, reach their potential while recognizing we are in a changing world. She has recently been nominated as a potential candidate for Member of Parliament with the Federal Liberal Party of Canada. She lives with her family in Canada on Vancouver Island.

Robert G. B. Reid is Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He holds B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from Glasgow University. His major fields of professional interest are digestive physiology, malacology, and evolutionary theory. He is the author of Evolutionary Theory: The Unfinished Synthesis (1985, Cornell University Press) and Biological Emergences: Evolution by Natural Experiment (2009, MIT Press). Robert Reid has taught in the fields of marine biology and comparative physiology--his major source of experience--as well as the history of biology. He has presented seminars at the Konrad Lorenz Institute workshop on Environment, Development and Evolution in Altenberg, Austria. Throughout his career he has worked closely with Environment Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada. He was Chair of the Pacific Aquaculture Centre of Excellence Shellfish Committee and Chair of the Shellfish Research Group of British Columbia. He was a member of the University of Victoria Arts and Science committee on Liberal Arts Programme implementation from 1974 to 1976 and of the University of Victoria Arts and Science Dean's Advisory Committee from 1977 to 1980. He was a member of the University of Victoria Senate Committee on University Extension from 1981 to 1983 and was University of Victoria Biology Honours Director from 2000 to 2002.

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