Conflict and Climate Change from the Little Ice Age to Global Warming

Presented by Professor Dagomar Degroot of Georgetown University. In this lecture given Feb. 11, 2016, at the Ohio State University, Professor Degroot surveys the cooler past to find some answers. First, he explains what we know about the "Little Ice Age," a climatic regime that lasted from 1450 to 1850, and was cooled by volcanic eruptions and low solar activity. Then, he argues that the weather of the Little Ice Age helped cause and decide wars within and between different societies. Finally, he shows why some societies were more vulnerable to the destabilizing influence of climate change than others, and offers lessons for the coming century.
This lecture was sponsored by the Ohio State University Department of History, with support from the Mershon Center.
Dagomar Degroot is an environmental historian who bridges disciplines to investigate how people confront changes in the natural world. He is an expert on social adaptation in the face of climate change; relationships between environments and war; and interdisciplinary methodology. He is also passionate about using public and digital histories to break the barriers that separate academia from the public.
In his articles and conference papers, Degroot has explored examples of human resilience in the face of "natural" climatic fluctuations that predate the onset of global warming. He has written a book, currently in peer review, that furnishes the first detailed analysis of relationships between climate change and the “Golden Age” of the Dutch Republic. His ongoing projects trace the human consequences of 17th century Arctic cooling; investigate connections between climate change and early modern conflict; and identify how people have responded to environmental changes in space. Degroot is the founder of, a website that attracts more than 100,000 viewers annually, and the co-founder of Climate History Network, an organization with more than 150 multidisciplinary members.