The Curse of Akkad and the Impact of Climate Change on Civilizations

TLDR This episode explores the connection between the curse of Akkad and climate change, highlighting how new scientific developments are helping historians and scientists understand the impact of climate on civilizations throughout history. It also discusses the challenges posed by climate change today and the importance of learning from history to mitigate its effects.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The section discusses the curse of Akkad and its connection to climate change.
05:11 The section discusses the use of new scientific developments to measure and understand changes in the natural environment, specifically in relation to the curse of Akkad and the potential accuracy of historical descriptions of climate stress and food shortages.
09:39 The section discusses the use of historical records and scientific evidence to understand the impact of climate on civilizations throughout history, highlighting the deep-rooted anxieties and concerns about climate apocalypse in various religious and cultural traditions.
14:16 Historians and scientists are now able to stress test the interaction of climate with empires and frameworks of authority better than they were in the past, using new evidence and technologies to understand the impact of climate shifts triggered by volcanic eruptions, such as the sixth century eruptions that changed pathogen behavior and led to the Justinianic plague, and the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 that changed marine biology and led to the spread of cholera.
18:50 Emerging infectious diseases are often closely linked to relatively small climatic shifts, and the idea that the Little Ice Age caused famines, religious wars, and political turbulence is oversimplified.
23:19 The Roman warm period and the stable climate conditions during that time were important factors in the success of the Roman Empire.
27:50 The destabilization of the Roman Empire and the subsequent dislocations and disruptions can be attributed to small individual problems that magnify and bring down the entire system, similar to the fragilities of interconnectivities seen in other historical contexts such as the Silk Roads and Mesoamerica.
33:54 The rate of biodiversity loss and the potential for cascade events, such as Antarctic ice melt and sea level rises, pose significant challenges that require both mitigation and awareness of worst-case scenarios.
38:20 The legacy of history, particularly the legacy of empire, has made it more difficult to resolve the climate crisis due to the perception of hypocrisy from countries like China and India.
42:49 The fashion industry contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than the aviation and shipping industries combined, and a pair of jeans takes 7,500 liters of water to produce.
47:08 The guest is optimistic about humanity's capacity to overcome climate challenges and emphasizes the importance of understanding the problems and taking lessons from history to prepare and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
51:38 The episode ends with a preview of the next episode, which will discuss the history of Iran and its influence on the Middle East.
Categories: History

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