Rise, Decline, and Ultimate Demise of the Middle East: 15,000 Years of Recurring Climate Crises

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Ingraham 206
@ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Environmental factors in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have played a crucial role in the historical and social development of the region. This presentation delves into a broad set of historical literature from the past 15,000 years that neglected to consider environmental factors to their full effect.

Beyond the broad historic analysis, this talk derives conclusions for today’s debate on whether climate change leads to more social conflict and violence.  While the MENA region may not survive the latest onslaught of deteriorating climate, there is also some interest in how a region that once led the world in introducing all sorts of innovations thousands of years ago has evolved into a contemporary setting characterized by traditional conservatism, poverty, and incessant strife.

Leila Zakhirova is an associate professor at Concordia College. Her research interests concern global energy transitions and the political, economic, and security implications of a global shift away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives such as biofuel, wind, and solar energy. Her co-authored book Racing to the Top: How Energy Fuels System Leadership in World Politics (Oxford University Press, 2018) probes the role of energy in the rise of powerful states over the past two millennia.  Dr. Zakhirova’s other co-authored book, Climate Change in the Middle East and North Africa: 15,000 Years of Crises, Setbacks, and Adaptation (Routledge, 2021), looks at the climate story of the region over the past fifteen millennia and links its serial climate fluctuations to its rise and demise from the Younger Dryas era to the last Little Ice age. Dr. Zakhirova is currently working on a book manuscript examining the link between global warming and population growth prospects in the Muslim world.

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