History of Science & Knowledge

The Empire of Climate: A History of an Idea

How the specter of climate has been used to explain history since antiquity

Hardcover

Price:
$38.00/£32.00
ISBN:
Published (US):
Apr 16, 2024
Published (UK):
Jun 11, 2024
2024
Pages:
552
Size:
6.13 x 9.25 in.
Illus:
16 b/w illus.
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Scientists, journalists, and politicians increasingly tell us that human impacts on climate constitute the single greatest threat facing our planet and may even bring about the extinction of our species. Yet behind these anxieties lies an older, much deeper fear about the power that climate exerts over us. The Empire of Climate traces the history of this idea and its pervasive influence over how we interpret world events and make sense of the human condition, from the rise and fall of ancient civilizations to the afflictions of the modern psyche.

Taking readers from the time of Hippocrates to the unfolding crisis of global warming today, David Livingstone reveals how climate has been critically implicated in the politics of imperial control and race relations; been used to explain industrial development, market performance, and economic breakdown; and served as a bellwether for national character and cultural collapse. He examines how climate has been put forward as an explanation for warfare and civil conflict, and how it has been identified as a critical factor in bodily disorders and acute psychosis.

A panoramic work of scholarship, The Empire of Climate maps the tangled histories of an idea that has haunted our collective imagination for centuries, shedding critical light on the notion that everything from the wealth of nations to the human mind itself is subject to climate’s imperial rule.