Climate Chaos: Lessons on Survival from Our Ancestors

Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani. PublicAffairs, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5417-5087-6
There’s an incorrect yet widely held assumption “that the human experience with ancient climatic shifts is irrelevant to today’s industrialized world,” according to this impassioned history. Anthropology professor Fagan (Fishing) and archaeologist Durrani (Bigger Than History) look at how previous generations have adapted to climate change, going as far back as before the first millennium CE, when early humans valued cooperation and showed “an intimate knowledge of the changing environment... and a deep respect for the natural world.” Later sections revisit the end of the Roman Empire, when a plague ran rampant, and how, for example, Native Americans in the early 16th century dealt with drought via “mobility and by maintaining kin ties with neighboring communities.” The authors round things out with a handful of “brutally simple” lessons: that humans must better use their skills at planning, cooperation, and reasoning in the face of climate change; that humans have a remarkable ability to predict climate change thanks to science and technology; that a great deal of adaptation must come at the local level; and that connections with family and communities are “a remarkable survival mechanism.” Educational and earnest, Fagan and Durrani’s work offers an original historical perspective. Climate-minded readers will find much to consider. Agent: Susan Rabiner, Rabiner Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 09/03/2021
Release date: 09/21/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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