Bernie Block: No Drought About It

Researchers have gone back to the Mayan civilization to find that the weather and climate change was responsible for its disintegration.

What they found was famine, war and collapse as a long-term wet weather pattern shifted to drought.

An international research team compiled a detailed climate record that tracked 2,000 years of wet and dry weather in present day Belize, where Maya cities developed from the year 300 to 900 A.D. Data trapped in stalagmites (mineral deposits left by dripping water in caves) as well as using the rich archaeological evidence created by the Mayans, backed up the findings.

Unlike our current global warming trend which is reportedly spurred by human activities, including the emission of atmosphere-heating greenhouses gases, the Maya collapse was due to massive, undulating natural weather patterns.
The pattern brought extreme moisture, which fostered the growth of the Maya civilization, and periods of dry weather and drought on a centuries-long scale.

The wet periods expanded agriculture and growing population as Maya centers of civilization flourished. It also reinforced the power of kings of these centers, who claimed credit for the rains that brought prosperity, plus using public blood sacrifices meant to keep the weather favorable to farming.

After the rainy period changed to dry weather, the king’s powers and influence collapsed and paralleled closely with an increase in wars over scarce resources.

The collapse started around 900 A.D. when prolonged drought remained for about another century until a severe drought which lasted 100 years forced them to leave their biggest centers of population.

Even during the height of their power, humans had an impact on their environment, mostly farming more land which in turn caused greater erosion. During the dry period, the Maya farmers responded with intensified plantings.
When the climate shifted toward drought, in a long-running pattern called the inter-tropical conversion zone, it inflamed human impact on the environment.

This story has a twisted funny ending because there are some similarities to this in the modern context that we need to worry about…such as in Europe and Africa, and even here in the U.S.

If there are changes in climate that undermine agricultural systems in some areas, it could create wide-spread famine, social unrest and warfare that then draw in other populations, just as it may have happened in the Maya civilization. There were famines in Russia, North Korea, Bengal, Somalia, United States, Ireland, Medieval Europe, India, and Australia to name some areas over the past few hundred years.

When examining the patterns, there is a very similar one going around the earth that should make a great world famine possible, plus the continuing growth in population to add to the problem.

Should we worry? Absolutely, say many researchers who make it their business to examine the impact on weather conditions throughout the world.

We should be prepared in the United States, a country that has been at war for quite a number of years, and had one of the worst droughts in the farming parts (California and Texas, especially) which caused food prices to rise, cattle killed and crops suffering.

These coincidences from the past should make you think that there’s NO DROUGHT ABOUT IT!

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Bernie is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.


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