The lost children of Carthage
Faces in the Stones - rock art at Avebury

Past Actions: Present Woes, Future Potential: Rethinking History in the Light of Anthropogenic Climate Change

Co_levene_pastactions_20100731A model university syllabus for historians and other students of the past to engage with issues of anthropogenic climate change through the medium of history and related disciplines.

Developed for the Higher Education Academy by a small team associated with the Rescue!History network.

My contribution is Unit 2: Climate change and the emergence of human history: the development of agriculture in the Old World.

The ending of the last glacial period (The Pleistocene) and the onset and stabilisation of the current inter-glacial period (The Holocene) was a major factor in precipitating profound changes in humanity’s subsistence practices. This climatic change fundamentally influenced the transition from hunting and gathering to domesticated cereal production and animal husbandry in the Near East, the Nile valley and Mesopotamia, from where it eventually spread across Europe and elsewhere.

A focus on the ways in which agriculture was both an innovative response to a changing climate and the basis for irrevocable changes in human exploitation strategies may provide a historical basis for and a key comparator to our responses to climate change – enabling students to frame key questions about optimal responses to the sustainability crisis that we currently face.