Peter Frankopan, "The Earth Transformed: An Untold History" (Knopf, 2023)


The Earth Transformed. An Untold History (Knopf, 2023) is a captivating and informative book that reveals how climate change has been a driving force behind the development and decline of civilizations across the centuries. The author, Peter Frankopan, takes readers on a journey through history, showcasing how natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, El Niño, and solar flare activity have shaped the course of human events. Frankopan's extensive research, coupled with his accessible writing style, makes for an engaging read that reframes our understanding of the world and our place in it.

One of the strengths of The Earth Transformed is the way in which Frankopan connects seemingly disparate events to highlight the far-reaching impact of climate change. For example, he explains how the Vikings emerged as a result of catastrophic crop failure, and how the collapse of cotton prices due to unusual climate patterns led to regime change in eleventh-century Baghdad. Through such connections, Frankopan demonstrates how past empires that failed to act sustainably were met with catastrophe, providing valuable lessons for our current environmental crisis.

Overall, The Earth Transformed is a timely and important book that sheds light on the enduring relationship between humans and the natural world. It challenges readers to reckon with our species' impact on the environment and to consider how we can act sustainably to prevent further harm. Frankopan's interdisciplinary approach, combining historical research with scientific insights, makes for a compelling and thought-provoking read that will leave readers with a new perspective on the world around us.

Javier Mejia is an economist at Stanford University who specializes in the intersection of social networks and economic history. His research interests also include entrepreneurship and political economy, with a particular focus on Latin America and the Middle East. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Los Andes University. Mejia has previously been a Postdoctoral Associate and Lecturer at New York University-Abu Dhabi and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Bordeaux. He is also a frequent contributor to various news outlets, currently serving as an op-ed columnist for Forbes Magazine.

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Javier Mejia

Javier Mejia is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Political Science Department at Stanford University.

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