Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Timely Reminder: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

The following report takes a look at climate change in the Middle East some 4200 years ago, focusing on one city in particular, and how it managed to survive when so many of its neighbors did not.

What's the old saying - I've not got it absolutely correct, I'm sure, but it is something like "those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it."  An apt lesson that applies not only to what is occurrring today in the politics of the Middle East -- with recent overthrows of established authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, and unrest in Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Jordan, Syria, etc.  One has to wonder what that old "revolutionary" is thinking about these days, holed up within his massive tent-enclave in Libya...ahem. 

As I was saying, not just a lesson that applies to politics but, perhaps more importantly in the long run, climate change.  And what, exactly, what any one civilization do about climate change?  Not a whole lot, when it comes down ot it.  Mother Earth has her own cycles, and Her own way of dealing with shit.

But while Mother Nature is doing her thing now, as She did then, there are billions of people living on this world today. Billions. So, what do you do when you've got -  millions - of people "knocking on your door" - so to speak, wanting to come in and use up your scarce resources, that are withering away at an alarming rate.  Those millions are there because the lands that they lived in are now desserts - but you're in not such good shape, either.  What do you do?  Do you let those millions pounding on your doors die off, like their cattle died off in the desserts?  What do you do?  What do you do...

Unreported Heritage News
How did they survive? New research shows Jordanian city survived climate change disaster 4,200 years ago
February 14, 2011

About 4,200 years ago a series of disasters struck cities and civilizations throughout the Middle East.

In Egypt the central government collapsed. The same state that had built the great pyramids, and kept pharaoh as the supreme authority, could no longer keep the country united. This ushered in an era of powerful provincial leaders (known as nomarchs) and rival claimants to the Egyptian throne.

A similar scenario happened in Mesopotamia where the Akkadian Empire, an entity whose power stretched from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, also went under. This led to local rulers stepping in and taking up power.

There is also evidence of social upheaval in the Levant. The city of Khirbet ez-Zeiraqoun in northern Jordan, whose inhabitants burrowed out hundreds of meters of water tunnels into the ground, was abandoned.

Climate change is believed to be a major reason for this upheaval. Research in the Middle East suggests that the environment became increasingly arid – making it difficult to support the intensive farming that is required to feed large cities.

“Paleoclimactic data from numerous sites, document changes in the Mediterranean westerlies and monsoon rainfall during this event with precipitation reductions of up to 30%, that diminished agricultural production from the Aegean to the Indus,” wrote scientists Harvey Weiss and Raymond Bradley in a paper they published.

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