While we’ve been deluged with the fear-mongering eco-propaganda of global warming doom for several decades, history and recent science tells us that not all climate change is, or has been, bad. In the early 13th century the Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan prospered during a time of global warming according to tree-ring temperature data presented at this month’s San Francisco meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
Yes, the world’s greatest land empire was probably enabled by climate change -- allowing Genghis Khan and his horde to conquer half of Eurasia. The great Khan rose to power in 1206, the year he united Mongolia’s tribes behind him in empire stretching from Japan to Turkey and encompassing much of Russia, India, China, and the Middle East. Researchers Hessl and Pederson have tree-ring data which seem to show that from 1208 to 1231 Mongolia enjoyed a string of wetter-than-usual years which was longer than any other such period in the past millennium. Previous tree-ring studies show the same period was also unusually warm.
The extended warmer climate provided richer grazing than normal. Richer animal fodder means more and fitter horses necessary for medieval Eurasian conquests. Khan’s strategic genius might today be seen as less impressive if the climate and environment had not warmed.
Other researchers want to look at Eurasian lake sediments. By counting spores from ancient fungus they hope to find out whether there really was an animal-population boom at the time of Genghis Khan. And they would like to extend their records and ecosystem modeling back to the first millennium AD. Khan’s was not the only empire to rise from the warming and lush grasses of Mongolia. The researchers want to know how climate influenced the Inner, Central and Eastern Asian Turkic empires of the sixth to ninth centuries.
Historians and archaeologists want to know how climate change plays a role in the rise and fall of nations. These retrospective climate change studies raise fascinating questions about the degree to which history can be enriched when nonpartisan science reveals climate change correlated to history. And more importantly, the studies may give us much-needed clarity about the controversial projections of climate impacts in our 21st century. (The Economist, Dec. 8, 2012)
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