Global warming is one of the greatest dangers mankind faces today. As temperatures increase, sea levels rise, and natural disasters escalate, our current environmental crisis feels difficult to predict and understand. But climate change and its effects on us are not new. In a narrative that spans centuries and continents, Peter Frankopan argues that nature has always played a fundamental role in the writing of history.
Vast, learned and timely ... Never does he settle for an easy gloss. In fact, far more of Frankopan’s book is devoted to arguing that climate change is not a sufficient explanation for the course of great events than to pointing out where it unquestionably has been the prime mover in human history. That thematic insistence on complexity, along with abundant scientific terminology, does not always make this book a light read. So be it.
Rich and fascinating ... This is one of those books that aims to tell the whole story of everything from a cute new angle, so inevitably there are longueurs where the focus on climate is temporarily forgotten and a few pages of potted history or comparative religion take over ... There are hints that Frankopan might belong to the more misanthropic end of the green spectrum. He disapproves of cities, which indeed consume many resources and emit much waste, even though living in a city is more energy-efficient than not ... The Earth Transformed ends in a vision not so much pessimistic as quasi-apocalyptic.
The Earth Transformed ... is packed with riveting examples of how history has been affected by our environment ... While most other historians look at these events – the rise and fall of the Roman empire, the abuse of minorities – in terms of politics and economics, Frankopan sees them as ripples set in train by environmental fluctuations ... Frankopan’s view of the past carries a resonant message for our future.