Cataclysms. An Environmental History of Humanity
Original title: Cataclysmes. Une histoire environnementale de l’humanité
This ambitious and fascinating book is a global history of interaction between humans and nature, as seen through the prism of the major climate cataclysms that have wreaked havoc on human life: from continental collision three million years ago, to the global warming that threatens us today.
Since the appearance of Homo sapiens, humans, as offspring of the climate, have been subjected to all sorts of environmental stress factors (drought and desertification, cold waves, volcanic eruptions, epidemics, earthquakes, the La Niña/El Niño phenomena, and more) and have always found ways to transform and tame nature. Nature has sought constant revenge however, and natural cataclysms have led to the collapse of numerous civilizations (Egyptian, Mycenaean, Mesopotamian, Khmer, Mayan and more) and forced mankind to adapt to endlessly changing conditions. This book, a veritable human saga stretching over three millennia, describes how our expansion and our domination of the world have often been achieved at the expense of biodiversity. A lucid assessment that doesn’t elude the difficult question of the environmental dangers humanity will soon be facing, this book urges us to make our civilization resilient, and to adopt the conditions of our own species’ survival.
- Prix de l’Académie française Léon de Rosen 2018
- English translation available soon