A. This book will provide a detailed examination of the Little Ice Age and other Q20 climatic shifts, but, before I embark on that, let me provide a historical context. We tend to think of climate – as opposed to weather – as something unchanging, yet humanity has been at the mercy of climate change for its entire existence, with at least eight glacial episodes in the past 730,000 years. Our ancestors adapted to the universal but irregular global warming since the end of the last great Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago, with dazzling opportunism. They developed strategies for surviving harsh drought cycles, decades of heavy rainfall, or unaccustomed cold; adopted agriculture and stock-raising, which revolutionised human life; and founded the world’s first pre-industrial civilisations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Americas. But the price of sudden climate change, in famine, disease, and suffering, was often high.

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