Segments in this Video

Earth B.C. (02:05)


Periods of pleasant climate allowed civilizations to rise, increased trade, and created economic prosperity; extremes in weather produced wars and human catastrophes. Earth's atmosphere cools the energy emitted by the sun to comfortable levels. Emmer grew in abundance in Egypt; Rome used the grain to feed its people. (Credits)

Empires Grow (05:36)

The Alps melted, allowing Roman soldiers passage into Europe where they conquered Germania and Brittania. Qin Shi Huang united China and the empire began to build the Great Wall of China. The Roman empire constructed the Limes Germanicus, controlling trade for 500 miles; German tribes used weather to their advantage.

Climate Change (04:34)

The level of solar activity, the Earth's axis, and orbit affect climate change. Crops died across North Africa around the time of Jesus Christ's birth. A bog mummy was discovered in 1952 near Windeby Northern Germany; climate refugees began to descend upon the Roman Empire.

536 A.D. (07:06)

Tribes invaded and conquered Roman territory. During the middle ages, the sun darkened and the temperature dropped; the llopango eruption could be responsible for the change in climate. Robert Dull analyzes volcanic ash to see if it can cause climate change.

Volcanic Winter (04:04)

Human populations suffered for 18 months due to cold weather, lack of crops, and rainfall. Nature recovered and dense forests cropped up across Europe. Civilizations feared these forests and turned to Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism for salvation.

Weather around the Equator (03:18)

New civilizations arose near the equator because of its ideal living conditions including the Mayan, the Nazca. By 900 A.D., both civilizations experienced intense drought due to increased solar activity. Pack ice in Northern Europe began to break up.

Onset of the Vikings (05:04)

Vikings reached Britain at the end of the eighth century. As a result of the attack on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, all of Europe feared the raiders; the Norseman also established settlements in Iceland and Greenland. A period of climate stability and prosperity followed.

Cities Erected (02:19)

Three-quarters of the cities in Europe emerged during the High Middle Ages; the mercantile class contributed to its birth. Coins began to be circulated and centers of education were built. Cologne cathedral began construction in 1248.

Kingdoms Established (05:01)

The Holy Roman Empire expanded. In the second half of the thirteenth-century, a series of volcanic eruptions triggered another cooling cycle which lasted for hundreds of years. Hudiger Glaser studies texts that describe Saint Mary Magdalene's flood.

Little Ice Age (06:18)

Under extreme weather conditions the population believed God was punishing them. Famine occurred throughout Europe. Summer was too wet and short to grow crops; experts describe the Bubonic Plague, the Inquisition, the 30 Years war, and political unrest.

In France (01:56)

The French revolution occurred because the aristocracy did not realize the famine occurring for its people. The French people returned democracy to the country.

Little Ice Age Ends (02:58)

Indonesia's Mount Tambora erupted creating a summer without sun, causing famine and triggering three migrations to America. In 1850, a warm climate cycle and the industrial revolution began. Technical progress has created massive climate change; Mark Maslin describes how mankind now has the ability to control it.

Credits: How Climate Made History: Episode 2 (00:36)

Credits: How Climate Made History: Episode 2

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How Climate Made History: Episode 2

Part of the Series : How Climate Made History
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Is it possible that climate change could have kick-started the end of Antiquity? When temperatures drop and the climate becomes drier, the Huns swarm Europe. It’s the last straw and brings about a mass migration that shakes the foundations of the Roman Empire. They abandon cities like London – the ghost-towns of Antiquity. Could this have been enough to herald the beginning of the ‘Dark Ages’ that follow? Historic sources from Byzantium right across to China have a different suggestion, now backed up by new scientific insights: around 536 AD, the Ilopango Volcano in Central America erupts. The eruption is violent and propels ashes right up into the Stratosphere. The result: the sun dims to a blueish hue that struggles to break through the ash-layer. The following 10 years are extraordinarily cold: this is the beginning of the dark middle ages, marked by famine, war, and an almost complete loss of cultural heritage.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL144755

ISBN: 978-1-64198-332-7

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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