Why Should We Care About Climate Change?

by Caitlin Suh

Amy Davidson refers to a largely overlooked event called “The Great Famine” that happened in northern Europe in 1315-1317 as a prime example of the disastrous effects climate change and people’s disregard of it can have on humankind.

The famine started in 1315 when rain fell continuously for weeks on end. The foodcrops were spoiling and there was no way to make hay for livestock to eat. When the rains came again the next year and the next, up to a tenth of the population of some parts of Europe died from famine. However, according to Davidson, this specific event was never capitalized because the two events that followed were even worse; the Black Death in 1347 and the Hundred Years’ War that started in 1337, and because the Great Famine happened largely due to the weather, a “prosaic” cause. The seemingly never-ending rain became secondary to the focus on famine, leading people to blame the famine on ineptly farmed land instead of the weather. Today, the same sort of denouncement is seen in opponents of climate change, who pay no attention to, or even renounce climate change. But unlike in the past, there are many who come to the table with projections and the evidence to back it up. It is just a matter of choosing whether to listen or not.

Davidson, Amy. 2016. The Next Great Famine. The New Yorker, Jan 16. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/01/11/the-next-great-famine

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