2024:14 A Climate Warning from the Past

Amidst the backdrop of the hottest January on record, surpassing pre-industrial averages by 1.6 degrees, join us this week as we embark on a gripping exploration of the economic history and pre-industrial climate change. From the medieval era to the tumultuous 17th century, we delve deep into its profound impacts on society, economy, and religion. We use the poignant saga of the Pont d’Avignon as our starting point. A 13th-century bridge succumbed to the fury of climate-induced mass flooding, while Europe reeled under the devastation of the 17th-century mini-ice age, that claimed over 500,000 lives in Ireland alone. The economy suffered as agricultural yields plummeted and food prices soared, leading to famine. Calamity bred religious fervor, with moralistic prohibitions and the rise of witch-hunts, while war ravaged the continent, targeting religious minorities, driving mass migrations. In the 17th century, climate change wasn't just a matter of inconvenience—it was a catalyst for chaos and conflict. History tells us we ignore climate change at our peril.

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