Correction to: Historicizing climate change—engaging new approaches to climate and history
Correction to: Climatic Change
After online publication of the Editorial, it was deemed that two clarifications would be beneficial to the scholarly utility of the Introduction.
In section 4, paragraph 4 & 5.
Geoffrey Parker is more conventional in his choice of historical themes—war, disease, famine, demographic factors—in Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century (2013). This is a towering achievement linking events all over the world into a comprehensive framework, with climate as the ultimate driving force. It is far from new to discuss climate as a key factor in crisis-ridden Europe; the late Eric Hobsbawm did this, albeit disapprovingly, in two articles in Past & Present in 1954 and sparked debate about the seventeenth century “crisis” in Europe (Hobsbawm 1954 a and b). The “Little Ice Age”—the concept itself dates to 1939 (Matthes 1939; Grove 1988; Fagan 2000)—has been the source of historical explanations of witch hunts (a long standing debate in its own right, e.g., Pfister 1976, 1988, Levack 1987, Behringer 1988, 1995, 1999, Behringer et al. 2005, Büntgen et al. 2011, Büntgen and Hellmann 2014); demographic change; the course of the thirty-year war; and many other occurrences. What Parker does, is to expand climatic causality to the world, using recent knowledge of monsoon changes, El Nino and La Nina phenomena. Above all, Parker seeks to understand how repercussions of climate-related events such as famine and plague in one place spread to others through trade, war, colonial policies, and disease (cf Brooke 2014).
Bold and admirable, even ground-breaking though Parker’s attempt to historicize the world through the agency of climate change, may seem it ultimately fails to convince, as several reviewers of the book have pointed out, including Warde 2015. Parker leaves unexplained why his perspective provides a “global” history, let alone a global “crisis,” a concept that in and of itself deserves to be thoroughly historicized as agency of major earthly disruptions is shifting towards humans in the Anthropocene, and by implication to earlier periods (Mauelshagen 2014; Paglia 2015). Did some imam in the Arab world or some Moghul leader in India, some aboriginal person in Australia, natives of Tierra del Fuego, or even people in Europe before the thirty-year war, define their predicament as a crisis? If so, how was it a worse crisis than those of previous centuries?
The following reference should be added:
Warde, P (2015) Global Crisis or Global Coincidence? Past & Present 228, 287–301.