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Everyone talks about the weather. We are no exception: there are currently more predictions than usual about what it will look like in the future. 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?
Wolfgang Behringer introduces us to the latest historical research on the development of the earth's climate; he shows what may today be considered secure knowledge, which changes have taken place in the past, and how they hindered or promoted the advance of Homo sapiens. The book first offers some elements of scientific orientation, then examines in greater detail the connection between the climate and cultural development since the middle ages. Behringer's exciting study graphically portrays the difficulties that our ancestors had to face and the solutions they came up with, and also discusses sometimes balmier periods such as the age of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. It will give us new heart to think of climate change as the number one challenge for our generation and to develop more positive approaches to the issue.
Wolfgang Behringer, Univeristy of York
[E]xcellent ... I strongly recommend A Cultural History of Climate ... It is particularly strong on explaining the dramatic cultural and social changes that climate variations have had on humanity over the last thousands of years, and discussing the archival and physical evidence in a very compelling way. Socialist Unity “A daring account of the ways in which climate has influenced the human story … he proves beyond any sensible doubt that climate has helped shape human history. BOOK OF THE MONTH." Geographical "Behringer's cultural history of climate shows that today's concern with global warming is only the latest example of humankind's preoccupation with weather and climate. He provides a careful and realistic view of the reaction of societies to environmental change." J. Donald Hughes, University of Denver "Today we may worry about global warming and climate change, but our ancestors coped with plenty of dramatic climate change too -- this is the central theme of Behringer's arresting global study of human responses to changing climate since our species appeared on earth. Not all readers will share his sanguine tone but they will find this extensively researched book consistently provocative and insightful, whether it's dealing with wine harvest data, adoption of heavier clothing, the great ice age or the Dutch genre of winter landscape painting." Peter Coates, University of Bristol