History and Climate Change: An Eurocentric Perspective

History and Climate Change: An Eurocentric Perspective

History and Climate Change: An Eurocentric Perspective

History and Climate Change: An Eurocentric Perspective


This book is a balanced and comprehensive overview of the links between climate and man's advance from pre-history to modern times. It is a synthesis of the many historical and scientific theories regarding man's progress through the ages.


This book is the first fruit of a conversion, that from a long-standing involvement in Strategic Studies - alias International Security Affairs. The most evident backdrop to this has been the strategic revolution of a decade ago and, above all, the end of the division of Germany and of Europe. History may conclude that Strategic Studies contributed to this benign bouleversement, particularly through its concern with how to cope with the quantum jump in firepower that nuclear weapons represented. But the result has been to leave the subject itself currently in limbo, with most of its customary themes either a sight less relevant or else analysed to exhaustion already.

Some of us have long argued - nay, pleaded - for its taking societal change, world resources and ecology properly on board as salient themes in the continuing quest for a true peace. But those who guard its inner sanctum have been much too resistant to this. Most would, in any case, be inwardly incapable of extending their remit that bit further to comprehend the threats to lasting peace posed not just externally but by the contradictions and instabilities within Western societies themselves. And in so far as other strategists may prove able to broaden their brief, they will thereby become generically less distinctive.

Yet this book is also the product of a reversion, one to my own youthful quest for identity and purpose. This quest boiled down early on to what the world might see as a stark alternative, that between history and physics. A country lad's fascination with the weather led me through meteorology towards general physics. But I always lacked confidence in my laboratory technique. Besides, the family precedents were towards reading history, precedents reinforced by the quasi-Churchillian sense of perpetual historic crisis many of my generation had imbibed from our wartime infancy. In addition, my home area - the Chiltern escarpment in the central Thames Valley - resonated with its remoter past more visibly then than it does now: with the Celts, the Romans, the Romano-British, the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans, not to mention Tudor and Stuart times. What brought everything full circle was the early acquisition of a riveting sense of shifting climate patterns, prehistorically as well as later.

The upshot was a decidedly unorthodox progression, one perhaps too much so to be admissible today. Grammar school majors in the physical sciences were followed by degrees in economics and history. Next, National service (i.e. military conscription) supervened, having previously been deferred (I had been led to believe for ever) by a sub-clinical attack of glandular fever or something like it that a Royal Air Force medical had uncovered.

So the question was how to respond to good effect. At that time, the Fleet Air Arm was advertising short-service commissions as meteorological forecasters. The said advertisement was explicitly directed at honours graduates in physics and mathematics. But swayed by maternal insistence, I rather desperately applied. I gained the last of the six new-entry places

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