World History 1 252 - 16.2 Famine, Climate Change, and Migration

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain how climate change affected Afro-Eurasian societies in the fourteenth century
  • Discuss the reasons medieval people migrated and how they did so

Rising sea levels, extreme hurricanes, and seismic disruptions may call to mind apocalyptic scenes from sci-fi movies, but global climate change, adverse weather, and natural disasters all played a real and significant role in shaping the course of human history in the fourteenth century. Environmental conditions have consistently had a profound impact on the availability of resources and the development of human settlements, trade, and migration across the globe.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration between historians and paleo-scientists has yielded vital information about environmental change in the premodern world. Even subtle shifts in climate and temperature have historically resulted in widespread demographic and ecological transformations that now shed light on the ways in which forces of nature and human activity intersected in the past. Understanding these connections enables us as modern historians to track the short- and long-term causes and consequences of historical plagues, famines, and environmental events, such as those that defined much of the fourteenth century. Learning about the ways in which past societies adapted to environmental challenges also provides vital context for modern debates about the effects of climate change and ways in which the environment affects the continued settlement and development of peoples around the world.

This lesson has no exercises.

The content of this course has been taken from the free World History, Volume 1: to 1500 textbook by Openstax