Implication of Climate on Human Development and History

Implication of Climate on Human Development and History

ong>Implicationong> ong>ofong> ong>Climateong> on Human


Michael Stecyk



• Early hominin development and evolution

• Pleistocene migration out ong>ofong> Africa

• Neolithic revolution

• Antiquity through the Middle Ages

• Industrialization and Revolution

• Role reversal: Ecocide and Al Gore


Recipe for Life

1) Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, etc.

2) Lightning/cosmic debris/deep sea vents 1

3) ????

4) Prong>ofong>it


Africa 2 4

Early Human Development

• Glacial expansion/contraction and sea levels

• African coasts

• Isolation ong>ofong> groups and fierce competition

• Selection for intelligence? 2 5‐content/uploads/2009/06/early‐human‐script1.jpg‐neanderthalsmated‐humans/7803121‐1‐eng‐US/0429‐neanderthals‐mated‐humans_full_380.jpg

Paradise Lost

• Heinrich events—increased freshwater flux

from glaciers

• Ocean density change; thermohaline

circulation altered

• Decreased vegetation in north Africa

• Southern Arabia enters lush pluvial period

• Hominin dispersal enabled 3 6

Whereas Food is Good

• Neolithic Revolution ~8,000‐5,000 BCE

• Areas with favorable climate and soil

• Post‐glacial CO 2 levels (from 180 to 270 ppm)

aided domestication 4

• Diverse economic systems likely determined

by these conditions 5 7

Fertile Crescent and Permanent


• Probable first site ong>ofong> food

production 6

• Food surpluses and storage


• Craftsmen and skilled labor

• Barley, other grains

• Alcohol and domesticated yeast 7

• …population increase


The Iron Age and the Rise ong>ofong> Rome

• Warm temperatures, consistent aboveaverage

precipitation (until ~250 CE)

• Ideal conditions for Roman Kingdom and


• Temperature depression ~50 BCE 8

• Imperial Rome and the Caesars


Trouble for Rome

• Large climate fluctuations

• Political, social, economic


• 3 rd century: barbarian

invasions, hardship in Gaul

• Constantine and Valentian,

making cool rain 8 10‐constantinople.jpg

Fall ong>ofong> the Western Roman Empire

• 6 th century: Near‐equatorial volcano

• Above‐average precipitation rapidly declines

• Hemispheric cooling

• Justinian plague and other epidemics

• Food shortages 8 11‐image/109694‐20110331174754/climate‐change‐linked‐to‐fall‐ong>ofong>‐rome.jpeg

Family Feudalism

• 9 th century: conditions similar to Roman


• Reduced climate variability

• Feudal estates—prong>ofong>it in decentralized empire

• Norse colonies and exploration 8 12


• Temperature decline in 17 th and 19 th centuries

• Little Ice Age

• Black Death

• Thirty Years’ War

• Viva La Revolución!

• Settlement abandoment 8

• Britain: wet and cold



Presented by Great Britain‐E/s400/IndustrialRevolution.jpg


Industrial Revolution

• What would you do in this kind ong>ofong> weather?

• Innovate! Age ong>ofong> Enlightenment

• Textiles, steam power, metallurgy

• Fossil fuels used on a large scale

• Wealth can be created 9 15

Side Effects ong>ofong> Industrialization

• Urbanization—culture, more innovation

• Improved farming techniques

– Greenhouses and controlled climates possible

– Synthetic fertilizers

• Efficient use ong>ofong> resources

• Higher standards ong>ofong> living 10 16

Ecocide and Role Reversal

• By‐products

– Global warming from greenhouse gases

– Smog and unhealthy urban environments

– Toxic waste

• Energy crises and effects on economy

• Severe climate changes

– Glacial retreat and ocean currents

– Hurricanes 11,12 17

Inconvenient Truths‐content/uploads/2011/02/Al‐Gore.jpg



ong>Climateong> had significant impact on human

evolution and migration

• Socio‐political‐economic shifts with changing

climate (Rome, Feudalism, Industrialism)

• Significant human impact on climate

• Efforts to restore previous equilibrium

• Leaving the Holocene epoch?



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