Monday, January 02, 2006

The Little Ice Age

The Little Ice Age
How Climate Made History 1300-1850
By: Brain Fagan
Pub: Basic Books pub date: 2000
246 Pages

The Little Ice Age is a look at climate changes from the warm period of the Middle Ages through 1850. Brian Fagan explains some of the natural mechanisms that govern our climate and how they all came together to create a long period of below average temperatures for the Northern Hemisphere. He also looks at if this “ice age” and today’s warming are part of a natural cycle or if man has had a hand in creating the conditions. He has extrapolated data from numerous sources and some unexpected places, such as period landscape paintings that depict conditions associated with prolonged winters, and colorful sunsets produced by volcanic materials and pollutants in the atmosphere. Mr. Fagan also goes into how the sudden cold affected various moments in history, including the French Revolution and Washington’s attack on Trenton. While climate wasn’t the only factor in many of the historical events it certainly contributed whether by failed growing seasons or abnormally harsh and stormy New England winters.

The book also explores some of the theories on whether or not the present global warming is having any impact on our climate and if we can expect a sudden change or not. The book was interesting, well written, and thought provoking. There are tables and diagrams to help portray some of the concepts such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and climate change information. This book is a good read for history buffs and people interested in climate changes and global warming.