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      Climatic volatility, agricultural uncertainty, and the formation, consolidation and breakdown of preindustrial agrarian states

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      Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

      The Royal Society

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          Impact of regional climate change on human health.

          The World Health Organisation estimates that the warming and precipitation trends due to anthropogenic climate change of the past 30 years already claim over 150,000 lives annually. Many prevalent human diseases are linked to climate fluctuations, from cardiovascular mortality and respiratory illnesses due to heatwaves, to altered transmission of infectious diseases and malnutrition from crop failures. Uncertainty remains in attributing the expansion or resurgence of diseases to climate change, owing to lack of long-term, high-quality data sets as well as the large influence of socio-economic factors and changes in immunity and drug resistance. Here we review the growing evidence that climate-health relationships pose increasing health risks under future projections of climate change and that the warming trend over recent decades has already contributed to increased morbidity and mortality in many regions of the world. Potentially vulnerable regions include the temperate latitudes, which are projected to warm disproportionately, the regions around the Pacific and Indian oceans that are currently subjected to large rainfall variability due to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation sub-Saharan Africa and sprawling cities where the urban heat island effect could intensify extreme climatic events.
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            2500 years of European climate variability and human susceptibility.

            Climate variations influenced the agricultural productivity, health risk, and conflict level of preindustrial societies. Discrimination between environmental and anthropogenic impacts on past civilizations, however, remains difficult because of the paucity of high-resolution paleoclimatic evidence. We present tree ring-based reconstructions of central European summer precipitation and temperature variability over the past 2500 years. Recent warming is unprecedented, but modern hydroclimatic variations may have at times been exceeded in magnitude and duration. Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity. Increased climate variability from ~250 to 600 C.E. coincided with the demise of the western Roman Empire and the turmoil of the Migration Period. Such historical data may provide a basis for counteracting the recent political and fiscal reluctance to mitigate projected climate change.
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              Possible role of climate in the collapse of Classic Maya civilization

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
                Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A
                The Royal Society
                1364-503X
                1471-2962
                October 12 2015
                October 12 2015
                : 373
                : 2055
                : 20140458
                Article
                10.1098/rsta.2014.0458
                26460110
                © 2015

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