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PSU Prof Doug Kennett's new study shows Maya thrived and declined because of climate change

The Maya civilization grew quickly because of the effects of a long period of greater than average rainfall - and then died when the local climate became drier, and the complex systems of the civilzation were not able to adapt to the rapid changes.

There's a lesson here I think.

Complex systems can be surprisingly stable - but they can also be surprisingly fragile. When our own civilization is hit with the triple hammer of global warming, fossil carbon EROI (energy return on investment) decline, and exponential population increase, it is not going to be easy for us to adapt quickly enough to keep our own complex systems going.

An ancient civilization's wet ascent, dry demise
Newly documented climate shifts helped shape Classic Maya destiny

A 2,000-year climate record, gleaned from a stalagmite inside a Belize cave, highlights a central role for climate shifts in the ancient civilization’s fortunes, say anthropologist Douglas Kennett of Penn State University and his colleagues.

A bounty of rain nurtured Maya agriculture and city building from the years 440 to 660, Kennett’s team reports in the Nov. 9 Science. A drying trend and occasional droughts after 660 were accompanied by declining crop yields, increasing warfare among Maya city-states and a shift of political centers northward into the Yucatan Peninsula, the researchers say. After the collapse of Maya political systems between 800 and 1000, a severe drought hit southern Belize from 1020 to 1100 and apparently motivated remaining Maya to leave the area.

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MAYA CLIMATE
Stretches of wet and dry weather influenced the growth and abandonment of ancient Maya political centers, such as Caracol in Belize, a new study suggests.
D. Kennett/Penn State

“It looks like the Maya got lulled by a uniquely rainy period in the early Classic period into thinking that water would always be there,” Kennett says.

 

We are doing the same thing - letting ourselves (and the media must be held accountable for this ethical lapse) be lulled into thinking we are so special, so entitled to thrive, that we are immune from the effects, and the math, of climate, geology, and biology.

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Comments

Yes I know, a single study does't prove a thesis - still...

Yes I know, a single study does't prove a thesis - still... using a stalagmite as a time reference and comparing it to the existing stidies of the mayan rise and fall is pretty dramatic.

You know what else was dramatic? Sandy.

Oh, and the relentless rise and fall of gasoline prices since 2005 is pretty dramatic too.

And, a billion more people in 12 years...

19272 billion
19502.55 billion
19552.8 billion
19603 billion
19653.3 billion
19703.7 billion
19754 billion
19804.5 billion
19854.85 billion
19905.3 billion
19955.7 billion
19996 billion
20066.5 billion
20096.8 billion
20117 billion

http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/worldpopulation.htm


http://www.ourbreathingplanet.com/the-burgeoning-dilemma-of-population-growth/

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