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Article: Changes in climate and secular population cycles in China, 1000 CE to 1911

TitleChanges in climate and secular population cycles in China, 1000 CE to 1911
Authors
KeywordsChina
Climate change
Human population cycles
Land carrying capacity
Mortality
Population pressure
Issue Date2010
PublisherInter-Research. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.int-res.com/journals/cr/
Citation
Climate Research, 2010, v. 42 n. 3, p. 235-246 How to Cite?
AbstractMany studies of secular population cycles in historical China conclude that when population is large - relative to the land's carrying capacity - further population increase can lead to mortality crises through war, famine and epidemics, resulting in subsequent population decline. In these studies, population cycles are thought to be driven primarily by population growth. Nevertheless, some scholars have noted a strong correlation between deteriorating climate, dynastic change, and population collapse in historical China. They suggest climate forcing as the underlying driver of population cycles, but quantitative evidence has been lacking to date. In the present study, we employed high resolution temperature data, reports on mortality events, and population datasets to quantitatively examine the extent to which climate change was responsible for Chinese population cycles. Results show that there were 5 major population contractions in China between 1000 CE and 1911, and all of them occurred in periods with a cold climate, when mortality crises triggered population collapses. Nevertheless, the climate-population association is non-linear, because it is mediated by population pressure. Although social buffers were increasingly effective in dissipating climate forcing, they could not prevent population collapses from occurring during periods of long-term cooling. Our results challenge classic Malthusian and post-Malthusian interpretations of historical Chinese population cycles.© Inter-Research 2010.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/142557
ISSN
2015 Impact Factor: 1.69
2015 SCImago Journal Rankings: 1.107
ISI Accession Number ID
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Hong Kong University (HKU)200807176038
10400340
Research Grants Council of The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of ChinaHKU7055/08H
Funding Information:

We gratefully acknowledge the following research grants: Hong Kong University (HKU) Small Project Funding for completion of a project entitled 'The spatio-temporal dynamics of natural disasters in historical China' (200807176038); HKU Seed Funding for Basic Research for the project entitled, 'Long-term climate change and the 17th-century general crisis in Europe' (10400340); and Research Grants Council of The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China for the project entitled, 'Climate change and war-peace cycles in Eurasia in recent human history' (HKU7055/08H).

References

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorLee, HFen_HK
dc.contributor.authorZhang, DDen_HK
dc.date.accessioned2011-10-28T02:51:27Z-
dc.date.available2011-10-28T02:51:27Z-
dc.date.issued2010en_HK
dc.identifier.citationClimate Research, 2010, v. 42 n. 3, p. 235-246en_HK
dc.identifier.issn0936-577Xen_HK
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/142557-
dc.description.abstractMany studies of secular population cycles in historical China conclude that when population is large - relative to the land's carrying capacity - further population increase can lead to mortality crises through war, famine and epidemics, resulting in subsequent population decline. In these studies, population cycles are thought to be driven primarily by population growth. Nevertheless, some scholars have noted a strong correlation between deteriorating climate, dynastic change, and population collapse in historical China. They suggest climate forcing as the underlying driver of population cycles, but quantitative evidence has been lacking to date. In the present study, we employed high resolution temperature data, reports on mortality events, and population datasets to quantitatively examine the extent to which climate change was responsible for Chinese population cycles. Results show that there were 5 major population contractions in China between 1000 CE and 1911, and all of them occurred in periods with a cold climate, when mortality crises triggered population collapses. Nevertheless, the climate-population association is non-linear, because it is mediated by population pressure. Although social buffers were increasingly effective in dissipating climate forcing, they could not prevent population collapses from occurring during periods of long-term cooling. Our results challenge classic Malthusian and post-Malthusian interpretations of historical Chinese population cycles.© Inter-Research 2010.en_HK
dc.languageengen_US
dc.publisherInter-Research. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.int-res.com/journals/cr/en_HK
dc.relation.ispartofClimate Researchen_HK
dc.rightsClimate Research. Copyright © Inter-Research.en_US
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subjectChinaen_HK
dc.subjectClimate changeen_HK
dc.subjectHuman population cyclesen_HK
dc.subjectLand carrying capacityen_HK
dc.subjectMortalityen_HK
dc.subjectPopulation pressureen_HK
dc.titleChanges in climate and secular population cycles in China, 1000 CE to 1911en_HK
dc.typeArticleen_HK
dc.identifier.openurlhttp://library.hku.hk:4550/resserv?sid=HKU:IR&issn=0936-577X&volume=42&spage=235&epage=246&date=2010&atitle=Changes+in+Climate+and+Secular+Population+Cycles+in+China,+1000+CE+to+1911en_US
dc.identifier.emailLee, HF:harry.lee@graduate.hku.hken_HK
dc.identifier.emailZhang, DD:zhangd@hkucc.hku.hken_HK
dc.identifier.authorityLee, HF=rp00646en_HK
dc.identifier.authorityZhang, DD=rp00649en_HK
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.3354/cr00913en_HK
dc.identifier.scopuseid_2-s2.0-77957725211en_HK
dc.identifier.hkuros196938en_US
dc.identifier.hkuros179665-
dc.relation.referenceshttp://www.scopus.com/mlt/select.url?eid=2-s2.0-77957725211&selection=ref&src=s&origin=recordpageen_HK
dc.identifier.volume42en_HK
dc.identifier.issue3en_HK
dc.identifier.spage235en_HK
dc.identifier.epage246en_HK
dc.identifier.eissn1616-1572-
dc.identifier.isiWOS:000283204500007-
dc.publisher.placeGermanyen_HK
dc.identifier.scopusauthoridLee, HF=9243348000en_HK
dc.identifier.scopusauthoridZhang, DD=9732911600en_HK

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