A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations

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Vintage Books, 2007 - Climate and civilization - 452 pages
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Like Jared Diamond's COLLAPSE, Clive Ponting's book studies the relationship between the environment and human history. It examines world civilizations from Sumeria to ancient Egypt, from Easter Island to the Roman Empire and it argues that human beings have repeatedly built societies that have grown and prospered by exploiting the Earth's resources, only to expand to the point where those resources could no longer sustain the societies' populations and subsequently collapsed. He shows, for example, how the fall of Rome has particular and vital importance for our modern global civilization. Destructive environmental behaviour today takes place on a much larger scale than ever before and the consequences will be correspondingly greater. Ponting argues for a higher sensitivity to the finite nature of our resources and the catastrophic impact on our modern world, should we continue to squander those resources. This new edition of Clive Ponting's international bestseller has been revised, expanded and updated. It provides not only a compelling story of how we have damaged the environment for thousands of years but also an up-to-the-minute assessment of the crisis facing the world today - and the problems that have to be faced in the search for solutions.

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2009-2010 Environmental Science Student:
Clive Ponting documents the history of humanity beginning with Easter Island and ending in modern day. His statistics are bountiful and his reasoning is
lucid. His book contains many interesting facts that may be useless, but nevertheless interesting. For example, white bread has no fiber in it, and historically it was only produced when there was a shortage of grain. When there was a surplus in grains, some governments banned the production of white bread. Now, I don’t see how that relates to environmental destruction, but it sure is interesting. It explains everything from the spread of lethal diseases on Easter Island to deforestation throughout the Roman Empire, and global warming from CHC emissions in the 1970’s. Ponting’s book is a quick read, despite its thickness, and provides a detailed account of how multiple societies throughout history and the world were destroyed based on environmental collapse and destruction. 

Contents

The Lessons of Easter Island
1
The Foundations of History
8
Ninetynine per cent of Human History
17
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Clive Ponting was until recently Reader in Politics and International Relations at the University of Wales, Swansea. Available in Pimlico are his most recent books: A New Green History Of The World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations; Gunpowder: From the Alchemists of China to the Battlefields of Europe; The Pimlico History of the Twentieth Century; World History: A New Perspective; Thirteen Days: The Road to the First World War; and The Crimean War. He recently took early retirement and now lives on a small Greek island where he is creating a Mediterranean garden and cultivating olives.

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