Europe's Drought Could Have a Long Afterlife

By Stephen Mihm

21 Aug 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

A Bloomberg columnist argues that the extreme weather of the summer is likely to be followed by social and political upheaval—providing fascinating examples of just this throughout European history.

Europe has been burning. As a brutal drought and record-breaking heat gripped the continent this summer, crops withered and forest fires raged. Thunderstorms have been cooling things off but are not expected to end the drought and may even create new problems of their own: flash flooding and falling trees.

The apocalyptic weather is not without precedent, as the re-emergence of centuries-old "hunger stones" in the continent's river beds attest. But as climate change makes such crises more frequent, it's worth remembering an important point: Historical episodes of meteorological mayhem have sown chaos, fueling everything from social unrest to pandemics.

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