Cookies?
Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Economic crises, land use vulnerabilities, climate variability, food security and population declines: will history repeat itself or will our society adapt to climate change?

Fraser, Evan D. G. (2009) Economic crises, land use vulnerabilities, climate variability, food security and population declines: will history repeat itself or will our society adapt to climate change? Working Paper (1). Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, London, UK.

[img]
Preview
PDF
Download (362kB) | Preview

Abstract

Although many of today's ecological, climatic and socio-economic problems seem unprecedented, similar events have occurred in the past. Western Europe's 'middle ages' (circa 11 to 14th century) may be one such case. By the 12th century, medieval Europe had shifted from the subsistence agrarian economy that emerged following the collapse of the Roman Empire to one where spatially dispersed trade in agricultural commodities helped support a complex society that devoted considerable resources to cultural works. This shift was facilitated by new institutional arrangements centred on monastic orders that provided access to both new agricultural and food processing technologies, as well as trade routes. This contributed to population growth and land clearing. All of these factors increased the wealth of society but also concentrated wealth in a small number of communities that were dependent on an ever-increasing and exploited hinterland for resources. Ultimately, this created a tightly coupled continent-wide subsistence system that was vulnerable to the weather, economic and disease shocks of the 14th century when Europe's population declined by perhaps 50 per cent. In exploring this history, the goal of our paper is to draw on a diverse theoretical body of literature (that includes resiliency theory, landscape ecology, political science and ecological economics) to develop a series of hypotheses about how large-scale complex civilisations can become vulnerable to climate change, and apply these lessons to the present day.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: http://www.cccep.ac.uk/Home.aspx
Additional Information: © 2009 Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Climate Change Economics and Policy
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Research centres and groups > Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Research centres and groups > Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP)
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2014 08:29
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2014 08:33
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/58067

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics