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Read with a voice? Yes/No.
Wait, you mean dramatic changes in climate existed before humans started burning fossil fuels on a massive scale? Whodathunk?
Climate scientists, for one. They’re the reason we actually know what climate was like at this time.
Here’s a fairly comprehensive debunking of the tired insinuation that past changes in climate somehow debunks anthropogenic global warming: https://skepticalscience.com/climate-change-little-ice-age-medieval-warm-period-intermediate.htm
The book was poorly organized. It had factual errors that no competent modern historian would make, and several errors that no linguistic classicist should make. Many charts were inadequately labeled. Footnotes were sloppy. It failed to integrate non-disease, non-climate history well enough to allow assessing the relative importance of disease and climate to the health of the empire. It failed even to allude to the historic role of plagues and climate in important predecessor and neighbor cultures. What a wasted opportunity!
BTW, anyone who imagines Justinian to have been anything other than a lousy emperor really should read Procopius.
Your argument about ancient Rome is reasonable and in line with Jared Diamonds theories on the effects of germs and climate, which is the best scientific theory of cultural development available. However, unlike Rome, we know with increasing accuracy the mechanisms of global biological threats and the effects on climate of increasing atmospheric CO2. We have remedies for both, and epidemics on historical scales have not materialized for over a century. Biological and nuclear weapons are much more of a threat. Your argument about the relation between climate change and disease risk, not associated with disruption of food supply, is exceedingly weak.
Seems like thin beer to me. I’d say the barbarian invasions had a thing or two to do with the fall. And didn’t the subsequent barbarian kingdoms in the West thrive?
And did not Alaric and his successors also deal with cold and disease, yet won out.
“Now that I know about confirmation bias, I see it everywhere!” (Clearly label as satire.)
The author makes good arguments in the same genre as “Guns, Steel and Germs” and “The Silk Roads”. Like the Romans, there is a lot of finger pointing and avoiding personal responsibilities for what will unavoidably be, a precarious future. There has always been a precarious future – there are no tablets on which humankind is guaranteed stable climate, freedom from disease, or unending resources. We will as likely face 100 years of unparalleled prosperity as 100 years of unparalleled disasters – every prophet forecasting either extreme has been proven wrong time and again. We can, however, be prudent in our actions and limit the excesses of extravagant spending and thoughtless exploitation of resources.
From the Amazon web page on this work, “A sweeping new history of how climate change and disease HELPED bring down the Roman Empire”. There were many causes of the disintegration of the Western Empire and the truncation of the Eastern Empire all of which contributed to this ancient upheaval, not just one. Believe the reviewer has an agenda and is attempting to sway opinion to hers. Publication data (omitted from the review:
Series: The Princeton History of the Ancient World
Hardcover: 440 pages
Publisher: Princeton University Press (October 24, 2017)
Bad analogies. If we lived in the relatively primitive Roman times, you might have a point but we don’t. The ideas that we will suffer pre-modern scale pandemics or wide-spread severe famines are a bit of a stretch. Hyperbole is far too commonly used in the media today. We all should learn to be a little more accurate in our thinking to avoid this kind of junk.
Your article mentions climate change. The later Roman Empire experienced a COOLING climate, NOT a WARMING climate.
Note that the EASTERN Roman Empire did NOT collapse.
The means to study past climate cycles and the effect on human history is a fascinating development as we gather more data from ice cores, sediment cores, and the pages of history. Extraordinary events such as volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, celestial cycles, and bolide impacts are being discovered as well. The Roman, Peruvian, Mayan, Chinese, and other cultures were all struck by extreme climatological disasters.
I read that around 1187 B.C. several eastern Mediterranean cultures experienced rapid declines that have yet to be adequately explained.
One can only speculate on the disasters faced by human cultures with the climatological disasters at the end of the Younger Dryas period (12,800 years ago) when mile high glaciers at New York latitudes melted and sea levels rose 400 feet (120 meters). Most coastal and riverine based cultures would have been devastasted.
The Roman Empire fell because it
ceased having a unified culture and
identity due to an amalgamation
many other cultures and races with
their respective values and beliefs.
Too much too fast. So called” climate
change” had little to do with it.
Droughts and plagues occurred at
other times previously and it did not
bring down the Republic or the Empire.
The fall o Rome lead to the so called
dark ages. The light went out.
Beware uncontrolled immigration
The fall of Rome did not lead to the Dark Ages. The ascent of Christianity in Western Europe and its zealous adherents led to the Dark Ages due to active destruction or neglect of pre-Christian knowledge. No such age exists in the history of the Eastern Empire or the Caliphate.
Which presumes one definition of Christianity, and not that of the definitive source of that title, while others disagree: “As much as it suits the agenda of some clumsy anti-Christian zealots to claim that Christianity caused the “Dark Ages” it’s an attack based on a weak grasp of history.” – https://www.quora.com/Did-Christianity-cause-the-Dark-Ages-i-e-the-5th-to-the-15th-centuries
Funny I must have missed where the climate change resulting from the carbon based ‘pollution’ caused by the Empire’s bustling industrial emissions and automobile’s burning fossil fuels caused their decline…. oh wait.
Very interesting! I see you’ve gotten some nasty blowback from at least one defender of the sacred cows of Roman historiography. You must be on to something! I love the way real science is being used to re-examine our understanding of the past. There’s nothing like having the facts when seeking the truth.
Ahm no, Rome didn’t fall due to climate change or disease. Rome fell for many reasons, but the biggest and most important of it were internal strife, lack of cultural identity (Romans didn’t want to serve in military anymore, and military was primarily composed of barbarians, without good discipline, over spending, and inability to develop sustainable economy.
You are trying to make a very tortured point without obviously understanding Roman History.
The biggest weakness of Rome was it’s Large Government and lack of good succession. Augustus tried to create a stable system, and did for a bit, but ultimately Principate had a huge weakness as it was based on military rule. This ultimately meant that leaders needed to pay off military and be in effect strong man. There is very good reason why it didn’t take even a century for the year of 4 emperors to happen. In addition to the fact that after Augustus you had Tiberious who was seriously flawed, then Caligula (you maybe familiar with him?), Cladius, and Nero.
This was why Rome fell not your tortured and silly argument.
Marek – did you even read this?
Your rebuttal does not address any of the points raised in this piece. I would like to see you make an attempt at a counter argument rather than simply restating the currently accepted historical theory.
I think you may find that these are not mutually exclusive.
Ahm no. It’s quite a well written review of what is no doubt quite a well written book. Couldn’t make much sense of what you wrote but did note the term “large government”, which is quite revealing as to how you prefer your ‘history’.
Rome’s reach grew until Marcus Aurelius. At that point, Germanic tribes were partially incorporated into the empire. There were times of ebb and flow, but disintegration occurred slowly after MA’s reign. The western empire’s capital moved from Rome to Ravenna starting in 402 AD, with Rome too difficult to defend. Internal disputes between west and eastern leaders led and poor local leadership was the primary source of downfall.
The last great Roman general, Flavius Aetius led a coalition of Visigoths, French and Germanic tribes against a superior force of Huns led by Attila in 451. Aetius was generally credited with stabilizing the west during his 20 years as military commander. The western “Emperor” had Aetius killed in court in 454; the emperor Valentinian was in turn assassinated as his guards stood by 6 months later. Then the Huns invaded northern Italy unopposed. So I would venture that internal politics had a greater impact on the end of the western empire than plague.
I would suggest that the USA can not fix anything and that previous leaders(some presidential) have not headed history either. Climate and nature don’t destroy moral values, we do! Think about and apply that to what the article says about us as a society.
The missing part is, as always, energy. Back in Roman times most energy was coming from grain. Nowadays it’s mostly coming from fossil fuels. Working on energy availability is a much stronger and direct predictor of economic turmoil than climate.
Have somebody read this to the sitting president and smack him silly over cutting financial medical/health aid for overseas nations. As long as aircraft fly around the world, these dollars are well spent to stop Ebola, etc., from killing off US populations.
Oh right, we have to keep paying for, what, everything? We pay for Europe’s defense. We pay for east Asia’s defense. And we have to pay for the good health of third world countries? Please.