What We Are Reading Today: The Fate of Rome

Updated 23 March 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Fate of Rome

Author: Kyle Harper

Here is the monumental retelling of one of the most consequential chapters of human history: The fall of the Roman Empire. The Fate of Rome is the first book to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome’s power — a story of nature’s triumph over human ambition.
Interweaving a grand historical narrative with cutting-edge climate science and genetic discoveries, Kyle Harper traces how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria.
He takes readers from Rome’s pinnacle in the second century, when the empire seemed an invincible superpower, to its unraveling by the 7th century, when Rome was politically fragmented and materially depleted, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. Harper describes how the Romans were resilient in the face of enormous environmental stress, until the besieged empire could no longer withstand the combined challenges of a “little ice age” and recurrent outbreaks of bubonic plague.


What We Are Reading Today: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

Updated 25 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

  • Wallace-Wells talks about humanity’s existential threats

The Uninhabitable Earth reveals the true pace and severity of climate change. 

Author David Wallace-Wells talks about humanity’s existential threats, but also how humans respond to this really urgent news. Some don’t want to know, others lapse into despair. 

“The author does a good job of pointing out that our future is really unknown. Most importantly, how will humans behave to try and save the biosphere. If somehow we all pull together we may be able to mute the worst of our possible futures. Also, he acknowledges that future technology is a possible game-changer, although he is not optimistic,” said a review published in goodreads.com.

“The author’s own career focuses on climate change, and he has all the sources and resources at his command. It shows clearly in the breath of data he draws on. And they are all connected, with feedback loops and knock-on effects that can magnify a bad situation into a disaster. Wallace makes those connections clear,” it added.