Pollution During the Industrial Revolution

America and Europe introduced advanced manufacturing processes during the Industrial Revolution period. Most of the technological innovations originated in Britain. They included machine tools, chemical manufacturing processes and mechanized factory systems. The textile industry created many employment opportunities. But, many people don’t know the adverse effects the revolution had on the environment. In this post,[…]

How Climate Change and Diseased Helped the Fall of Rome

Understanding history can deepen our sense of what it means to be human and how fragile our societies are. At some time or another, every historian of Rome has been asked to say where we are, today, on Rome’s cycle of decline. Historians might squirm at such attempts to use the past but, even if[…]

Climate Change and the Rise and Demise of the Ancient Neo-Assyrian Empire

What caused the rise and then collapse 2,600 years ago of this vast empire centered on Mesopotamia? Introduction Ancient Mesopotamia, the fabled land between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, was the command and control center of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. This ancient superpower was the largest empire of its time, lasting from 912 BC to[…]

Evidence of Asteroid Impact 12,800 Years Ago Causing Abrupt Climate Change

Why did Earth’s climate rapidly cool 12,800 years ago? Evidence is mounting that a comet or asteroid collision is to blame, with new support coming from the bottom of a South Carolina lake. Introduction What kicked off the Earth’s rapid cooling 12,800 years ago? In the space of just a couple of years, average temperatures[…]

How Language and Climate Connect

While we’re losing biological diversity, we’re also losing linguistic and cultural diversity at the same time. This is no coincidence. The world is getting uncomfortably warm. At present, much of Europe is suffering under a heat wave of record-breaking temperatures. It’s so hot that piles of manure are spontaneously combusting and setting off wildfires in Spain. Across the[…]

How the Classic Maya Coped with Changing Climate Conditions

Many people think climate change caused Classic Maya civilization to collapse abruptly around 900 A.D. An archaeologist says that view is too simplistic and misses the bigger point. Carbon dioxide concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere have reached 415 parts per million – a level that last occurred more than three million years ago, long before the evolution of[…]

Civilizational Collapse Has a Bright Past – But a Dark Future

Modern civilizations might also be less capable of recovering from deep collapse than their predecessors. Is the collapse of a civilisation necessarily calamitous? The failure of the Egyptian Old Kingdom towards the end of the 2nd millennium BCE was accompanied by riots, tomb-raids and even cannibalism. ‘The whole of Upper Egypt died of hunger and[…]

Cropped Out: Environmental History Through a Car Window

A community in so many ways defined by reinvention butting up against land prized for its preservation in perpetuity. Introduction I don’t love to drive, but last year I committed myself to a lifestyle that revolves around it. I took a job teaching history in Greeley, Colorado, and decided to live in Fort Collins, about[…]

How Climate Change Put a Damper on the Maya Civilization

Thousands of years before their collapse, severely soggy conditions lasting for many centuries likely inhibited the civilization’s development. By Olivia Trani More than 4,000 years ago, when the Great Pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge were being built, the Maya civilisation emerged in Central America. The indigenous group prospered for thousands of years until its fall[…]

Urwald Rothwald: The Survival of a Primeval Forest

How did this forest persist untouched through time? By Dr. Bernhard E. Splechtna (left) and Karl Splechtna (right)Bernard Splechtna: Professor of Environmental History, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)Karl Splechtna: Managing Forest Director, Retired When Albert Rothschild came to visit his summer and hunting residence in Holzhüttenboden, the first thing was to saddle[…]

Versailles’ Drinking Water and the Last Service of the Marly Machine, 1859–1963

Since the foundation of Versailles by King Louis XIV, the city often lacked water. In 1859 Versailles and its more than twenty neighboring communities were presented with the new Marly Machine—a hydraulic pump that formed the cornerstone of Versailles’ drinking water supply. This event reinforced the dependence of Versailles on the Seine River and the[…]

An Endless Sediment Story: The First Five Decades of the Canal de Marseille

Up until this epoch, water resources consisted of an old and damaged medieval aqueduct. Operational since 1847, the 80 kilometer long Canal de Marseille, built by famous Swiss civil engineer Franz Mayor de Montricher, has allowed great improvement in the water supply in the city of Marseille, southeast of France. Indeed, during the first quarter[…]

The Dantean Anomaly (1309-1321): Rapid Climate Change in Late Medieval Europe with a Global Perspective

In the last years of his life, Dante Alighieri was an unsuspecting witness to a rapid shift in climatic conditions that led to cooler and wetter weather all over the continent. I am in the third circle, filled with cold,  / unending, heavy, and accursed rain; / its measure and its kind are never changed.[…]

The Arctic is Thawing Much Faster than Expected, Scientists Warn

NEWTOK, AK – JULY 06: The marshy, tundra landscape surrounding Newtok is seen from a plane on July 6, 2015 outside Newtok, Alaska. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) From Chris Mooney at the Washington Post / 03.23.2016: Amid blowout warm temperatures in the Arctic this year, two newstudies have amplified concerns about one of the[…]