Brian Fagan’s Floods, Famines and Emperors

From Brian Fagan’s Floods, Famines and Emperors: El Nino and the  Fate of Civilizations, a fascinating and in-depth exploration of the effects of climate on civilization:

“The partners in this dance are the atmosphere and the ocean. But who leads? Which initiates the eastward surge of warm water that ends La Nina and Starts El Nino? Though intimately coupled, the ocean and the atmosphere do not form a perfectly symmetrical pair. Whereas the atmosphere is quick and agile and responds nimbly to hints from the ocean, the ocean is ponderous and cumbersome.” — George Philander, Is the Temperature Rising?

“El Nino comes running up from Easter Island, tepid and sickly, the offspring of death by water, beating against the Peruvian coast . . . heavy and sweating El Nino swims, hurling dead fish against the walls of the continent, stupyfying and putrefying it all . . . the winds driven mad and off course.” — Carlos Fuentes, Christopher Unborn

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