Event Detail


From Meadow to Metropolis: How did the environment shape human history?

Dr Jed Kaplan
Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019
Complimentary Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Talk 7.30 pm
Clifford Chance, 27/F Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central
Pre-payment is requested. Please scroll down.
In this talk, Dr Jed Kaplan explores how humans affected global climate before the Industrial Era. While this question is hotly debated, the co-evolution of humans and the natural environment since the last Ice Age had an undisputed role in influencing the present state of landscapes. Many of these are highly valued today as economic, cultural and ecological resources. Focussing on civilisations all the way from the Roman Empire to Ankor, Dr Kaplan looks at how climate is intertwined with civilisation.

Academics still have a very incomplete picture of human-environment interactions over the last 21,000 years, both spatially and temporally, and how those interactions shaped the world.  In order to address this problem, Dr Kaplan has synthesised demographic, technological, and economic development over preindustrial time, and creating a database of historical urbanisation covering the last 8,000 years. 

In this talk, he takes the audience on a journey through time, starting with the way distant hominin ancestors modified their environments to increase their chances of survival, and coming to the question of whether the planet itself can now survive the multitude of demands placed on it by modern society.

Jed Kaplan studied Geography and Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College, USA and received his PhD in Plant Ecology from Lund University, Sweden.  He subsequently held several postdoctoral fellowships.  Later, he held Professorships at the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne supported by the European Research Council.  Dr Kaplan was a Senior Research Fellow in the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, and is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Hong Kong.  He has published more than 100 articles in major international journals including Science and Nature, and is recognised as an expert in interdisciplinary global environmental history.  He is currently editor-in-chief of the journal Global and Planetary Change.

Members of the RGS, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$150 for RGS Members and HK$200 for guests and others, including a complimentary glasses of white or red wine.  This event is free of charge for our Student Members.

 The Royal Geographical Society – Hong Kong wishes to express its thanks to Clifford Chance as our Venue Sponsor for this talk.


Dr Jed Kaplan talk on Tue, 17 Sep

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