The Great Warming

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A breakout bestseller on how the earthÆs previous global warming phase reshaped human societies from the Arctic to the Saharaùa wide-ranging history with sobering lessons for our own time. From the tenth to the fifteenth century the earth experienced a rise in surface temperature that changed climate worldwideùa preview of todayÆs global warming. In some areas, including western Europe, longer summers brought bountiful harvests and population growth that led to cultural flowering. In the Arctic, Inuit and Norse sailors made cultural connections across thousands of miles as they traded precious iron goods. Polynesian sailors, riding new wind patterns, were able to settle the remotest islands on earth. But in many parts of the world, the warm centuries brought drought and famine. Elaborate societies in western and central America collapsed, and the vast building complexes of Chaco Canyon and the Mayan Yucatßn were left empty. The history of the Great Warming of a half millennium ago suggests that we may yet be underestimating the power of climate change to disrupt our lives todayùand our vulnerability to drought, writes Fagan, is the ôsilent elephant in the room.ö