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Chapter

Chapter Nine Summary


Department
Geography
Course Code
GGR101H1
Professor
Tony Davis

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GGR101H1F
Chapter 9 Notes, pg. 177-187
HUMAN CONSEQUENCES
Assessments of the importance of climate change has been inexact in the past due to poor
communication between historians and climatologists
Factors that may or may not affect crops and/or economy (depending on geographical
location, climatic sensitivity and socio-economic system) are weather, rainfall patterns,
sun, humidity, hailstorms, snow
Iceland
Life diff icult during the “Little Ice Age” period
Economy dependent on agriculture and fishing; drop in grass production = no food for
cattle = less food… had to ship in hay (very expensive!) – advancement of glaciers =
abandonment of farms
Low temperatures reduced fishing catch (fish swam south) ; caused fight with Brit ain over
fishing r ights
Birth rates low, death rates high during this period of scarcity – didnt help that a volcano
erupted in 1875 (Askja), smallpox epidemics – population decreased dramatically…
COULD NOT ADAPT TO EFFECTS OF HARSH CLIMATE (no oppor tunities)
Greenland
Norse settlement in Greenland (AD985) did not survive because they failed to adapt to
severe climate
Greenlanders occupied lowlands, attempted to pasture cattle, etc. – tried and failed to
grow cereals, had to keep stock inside during winter – people basically dependent on seal
meat
Had no acceptable trading goods, therefore no trade!
Economy functioned on communal labour to maximize resources – suffered severe
climatic stress; lengthening of winter, persistent snow cover = bad hay harvest and local
extinction of caribou = malnutrition and death
Increasingly harsh climate allowed successful spread of Inuit ice hunting – used skins for
clothing and boats
If the Norse had shifted from cattle-keeping to marine resources they would have survived
– refused to change traditions and succumbed to climatic stress
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