Climate Chaos: Lessons on Survival from Our Ancestors

PublicAffairs. Sept. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781541750876. $30. SOC SCI
In this latest book, Fagan and Durrani (who previously collaborated on What We Did in Bed and Bigger Than History) seek to answer one question: why is history relevant to the way societies will handle future climate chaos? The result is a thorough study of human history, as seen entirely through the impact of climate. They survey 30,000 years of global humanity to show how previous societies responded, or didn’t, to climate shifts; they also outline lessons for modern societies adapting to future irreversible global warming. They do touch on climate science, but because of the complexity and fast-changing nature of the discipline, they chose instead to focus on archaeology and history, to great effect. Theirs is not a typical work of popular world history; it’s fresh and new, and, unlike similar titles, marvelously eschews specificity in favor of generality and universality. The authors create thought-provoking connections and draw striking conclusions that will interest even the most climate-savvy of readers.
VERDICT Complete with maps and illustrations, this wide-ranging historical survey is international in scope, while remaining accessible. A title for every reader, no matter their academic background.
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