Tag Archives: regional conflict

Climate 'toppled late Bronze Age rulers'

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Recent research suggests that the rise and fall of the ancient world’s civilisations may have been due to a changing climate.

LONDON, 24 August – Historians and archaeologists have invoked catastrophic volcanic eruption, a tsunami, invasion, a socioeconomic crisis, new technology and mysterious forces to explain the collapse of late Bronze Age civilisation in Europe.

But a team of scientists have another explanation: climate change more than 3,000 years ago altered the course of history and bequeathed to modern Europe an enduring set of myths, and museums full of amazing archaeological finds, but very few facts.

The civilisation of the Eastern Mediterranean in the 13th century BC was real enough. This is the dramatic landscape celebrated by the great poet Homer, and in the earliest Jewish scriptures that now make up the first books of the Bible, and in the ruins of the region.

Powerful kings and autocrats ruled at Mycenae and Tiryns in the Peloponnese of Greece, the Hittites built an empire in Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, great cities flourished in Canaan, in what is now Israel, and there was a fabulous civilisation based at Knossos in Crete.

Ramses II ruled Egypt for 66 years, and engaged in protracted wars with the Sea Peoples, who exist in ancient records but who remain mysterious.

And then, everywhere and in the same few decades, all these empires collapsed and some were all but erased.
Researchers reported recently in Nature that after analysis of a series of studies of conflict and violence, they had identified temperature and drought as a factor in all of them.

Felled by drought

Their definition of conflict and violence extended from murder and riots in the streets to the fall of civilisations. And, right on cue, Daniel Kaniewski of the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France, and colleagues drive home the climate connection: drought, crop failure and famine accompanied the collapse of the late Bronze Age civilisation.

They report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One that they examined a long succession of pollen grains in sediments in an ancient, land-locked salt lake in Cyprus, and found evidence of environmental change that drove a crisis everywhere in the ancient world.

The pollens told a story of vegetational succession: of oak forests, marsh plants and reeds, of Mediterranean woodlands, meadows, steppe grasses, agricultural plants and the weeds that spring up alongside them – and then testimony of a 300 year drought almost exactly co-incident with the failure of so many civilisations and the emergence of the Age of Iron.

Such a drought would have precipitated famine, poverty and invasion, as desperate people with nothing at all assaulted cities that had increasingly little to protect. The matching of archaeological and environmental data from the Syrian and Cypriot coasts, the researchers say, “offers a first comprehensive insight into how and why things may have happened during this chaotic period.”

It also underlines the agro-productive sensitivity (their words) of the ancient Mediterranean societies to climate, and, they say, takes the mystery out of the crisis of the Late Bronze Age. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Recent research suggests that the rise and fall of the ancient world’s civilisations may have been due to a changing climate.

LONDON, 24 August – Historians and archaeologists have invoked catastrophic volcanic eruption, a tsunami, invasion, a socioeconomic crisis, new technology and mysterious forces to explain the collapse of late Bronze Age civilisation in Europe.

But a team of scientists have another explanation: climate change more than 3,000 years ago altered the course of history and bequeathed to modern Europe an enduring set of myths, and museums full of amazing archaeological finds, but very few facts.

The civilisation of the Eastern Mediterranean in the 13th century BC was real enough. This is the dramatic landscape celebrated by the great poet Homer, and in the earliest Jewish scriptures that now make up the first books of the Bible, and in the ruins of the region.

Powerful kings and autocrats ruled at Mycenae and Tiryns in the Peloponnese of Greece, the Hittites built an empire in Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, great cities flourished in Canaan, in what is now Israel, and there was a fabulous civilisation based at Knossos in Crete.

Ramses II ruled Egypt for 66 years, and engaged in protracted wars with the Sea Peoples, who exist in ancient records but who remain mysterious.

And then, everywhere and in the same few decades, all these empires collapsed and some were all but erased.
Researchers reported recently in Nature that after analysis of a series of studies of conflict and violence, they had identified temperature and drought as a factor in all of them.

Felled by drought

Their definition of conflict and violence extended from murder and riots in the streets to the fall of civilisations. And, right on cue, Daniel Kaniewski of the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France, and colleagues drive home the climate connection: drought, crop failure and famine accompanied the collapse of the late Bronze Age civilisation.

They report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One that they examined a long succession of pollen grains in sediments in an ancient, land-locked salt lake in Cyprus, and found evidence of environmental change that drove a crisis everywhere in the ancient world.

The pollens told a story of vegetational succession: of oak forests, marsh plants and reeds, of Mediterranean woodlands, meadows, steppe grasses, agricultural plants and the weeds that spring up alongside them – and then testimony of a 300 year drought almost exactly co-incident with the failure of so many civilisations and the emergence of the Age of Iron.

Such a drought would have precipitated famine, poverty and invasion, as desperate people with nothing at all assaulted cities that had increasingly little to protect. The matching of archaeological and environmental data from the Syrian and Cypriot coasts, the researchers say, “offers a first comprehensive insight into how and why things may have happened during this chaotic period.”

It also underlines the agro-productive sensitivity (their words) of the ancient Mediterranean societies to climate, and, they say, takes the mystery out of the crisis of the Late Bronze Age. – Climate News Network

Climate ‘toppled late Bronze Age rulers’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Recent research suggests that the rise and fall of the ancient world’s civilisations may have been due to a changing climate. LONDON, 24 August – Historians and archaeologists have invoked catastrophic volcanic eruption, a tsunami, invasion, a socioeconomic crisis, new technology and mysterious forces to explain the collapse of late Bronze Age civilisation in Europe. But a team of scientists have another explanation: climate change more than 3,000 years ago altered the course of history and bequeathed to modern Europe an enduring set of myths, and museums full of amazing archaeological finds, but very few facts. The civilisation of the Eastern Mediterranean in the 13th century BC was real enough. This is the dramatic landscape celebrated by the great poet Homer, and in the earliest Jewish scriptures that now make up the first books of the Bible, and in the ruins of the region. Powerful kings and autocrats ruled at Mycenae and Tiryns in the Peloponnese of Greece, the Hittites built an empire in Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, great cities flourished in Canaan, in what is now Israel, and there was a fabulous civilisation based at Knossos in Crete. Ramses II ruled Egypt for 66 years, and engaged in protracted wars with the Sea Peoples, who exist in ancient records but who remain mysterious. And then, everywhere and in the same few decades, all these empires collapsed and some were all but erased. Researchers reported recently in Nature that after analysis of a series of studies of conflict and violence, they had identified temperature and drought as a factor in all of them.

Felled by drought

Their definition of conflict and violence extended from murder and riots in the streets to the fall of civilisations. And, right on cue, Daniel Kaniewski of the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France, and colleagues drive home the climate connection: drought, crop failure and famine accompanied the collapse of the late Bronze Age civilisation. They report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One that they examined a long succession of pollen grains in sediments in an ancient, land-locked salt lake in Cyprus, and found evidence of environmental change that drove a crisis everywhere in the ancient world. The pollens told a story of vegetational succession: of oak forests, marsh plants and reeds, of Mediterranean woodlands, meadows, steppe grasses, agricultural plants and the weeds that spring up alongside them – and then testimony of a 300 year drought almost exactly co-incident with the failure of so many civilisations and the emergence of the Age of Iron. Such a drought would have precipitated famine, poverty and invasion, as desperate people with nothing at all assaulted cities that had increasingly little to protect. The matching of archaeological and environmental data from the Syrian and Cypriot coasts, the researchers say, “offers a first comprehensive insight into how and why things may have happened during this chaotic period.” It also underlines the agro-productive sensitivity (their words) of the ancient Mediterranean societies to climate, and, they say, takes the mystery out of the crisis of the Late Bronze Age. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Recent research suggests that the rise and fall of the ancient world’s civilisations may have been due to a changing climate. LONDON, 24 August – Historians and archaeologists have invoked catastrophic volcanic eruption, a tsunami, invasion, a socioeconomic crisis, new technology and mysterious forces to explain the collapse of late Bronze Age civilisation in Europe. But a team of scientists have another explanation: climate change more than 3,000 years ago altered the course of history and bequeathed to modern Europe an enduring set of myths, and museums full of amazing archaeological finds, but very few facts. The civilisation of the Eastern Mediterranean in the 13th century BC was real enough. This is the dramatic landscape celebrated by the great poet Homer, and in the earliest Jewish scriptures that now make up the first books of the Bible, and in the ruins of the region. Powerful kings and autocrats ruled at Mycenae and Tiryns in the Peloponnese of Greece, the Hittites built an empire in Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, great cities flourished in Canaan, in what is now Israel, and there was a fabulous civilisation based at Knossos in Crete. Ramses II ruled Egypt for 66 years, and engaged in protracted wars with the Sea Peoples, who exist in ancient records but who remain mysterious. And then, everywhere and in the same few decades, all these empires collapsed and some were all but erased. Researchers reported recently in Nature that after analysis of a series of studies of conflict and violence, they had identified temperature and drought as a factor in all of them.

Felled by drought

Their definition of conflict and violence extended from murder and riots in the streets to the fall of civilisations. And, right on cue, Daniel Kaniewski of the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France, and colleagues drive home the climate connection: drought, crop failure and famine accompanied the collapse of the late Bronze Age civilisation. They report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One that they examined a long succession of pollen grains in sediments in an ancient, land-locked salt lake in Cyprus, and found evidence of environmental change that drove a crisis everywhere in the ancient world. The pollens told a story of vegetational succession: of oak forests, marsh plants and reeds, of Mediterranean woodlands, meadows, steppe grasses, agricultural plants and the weeds that spring up alongside them – and then testimony of a 300 year drought almost exactly co-incident with the failure of so many civilisations and the emergence of the Age of Iron. Such a drought would have precipitated famine, poverty and invasion, as desperate people with nothing at all assaulted cities that had increasingly little to protect. The matching of archaeological and environmental data from the Syrian and Cypriot coasts, the researchers say, “offers a first comprehensive insight into how and why things may have happened during this chaotic period.” It also underlines the agro-productive sensitivity (their words) of the ancient Mediterranean societies to climate, and, they say, takes the mystery out of the crisis of the Late Bronze Age. – Climate News Network

Conflicts fuel Caucasus climate fears

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The melting snows of Mount Ararat are a stark warning of growing problems in a fragile region so fragmented by conflict that unified efforts to address climate change are severely restricted

ARMENIA, 25 June – Mount Ararat, the 5,137-metre outcrop on which some believe Noah and his Ark survived the great flood, is a symbol of identity to many millions of Armenians. It has also become a symbol of conflict – and its warming climate is a likely harbinger of change to come in the region.

The mountain is not in Armenia but in Turkey, its conical, snow-covered peak visible across a closed and heavily-militarised border. But now Ararat’s snows – seen all year round, even when summer temperatures reach nearly 40C on the plains below – are melting.

A 2012 study by Turkish geologists, published in the Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, found that Ararat’s glaciers declined in size by nearly 30% between 1976 and 2008. It concluded that a rise in temperatures on the mountain, coupled with a fall in precipitation, were the likely causes of the glacial reduction.

Erratic rainfall

Further north, in the Caucasus mountains, there’s a similar story. The Earth Policy Institute calculates that glacial volume in the Caucasus has decreased by 50% over the last century, with particularly sharp declines in ice cover over the last 20 years. Across the region, summer temperatures are increasing, while rainfall patterns are becoming increasingly erratic.

However, regional rivalries and conflicts among the nations of the Caucasus make any unified approach to addressing these problems extremely difficult.

Landlocked Armenia, with a population of just over three million, has no official relations either with Turkey, to the west, or Azerbaijan, to the east. Georgia, with its population of four and half million, recently went to war with its northern neighbour Russia over the disputed territory of South Ossetia.

Diana Harutyunyan, one of Armenia’s negotiators at UN climate meetings and also a UN Development Programme climate change co-ordinator, says: “Armenia and countries in this region, with their semi-arid climates and fragile ecosystems, are extremely vulnerable to climate change.

“One of the key problems is that we don’t have a common voice and don’t really make ourselves heard; we are not a grouping, but tend to act individually.

“Not only are we seeing a clear downward trend in precipitation and a rise in temperatures in many areas, but also there’s increasing desertification – caused not just by changes in climate but by the wholesale chopping down of trees.

“All of this has major economic implications, but, to be honest, this region is not very active, and there is a serious lack of research and data. For example, none of the countries in the region have statistics on climate change and its impact on public health.”

Little co-operation

When the Caucasus region formed part of the Soviet Union, climate data collection was carried out on a region-wide basis; now it is done by each individual country, with varying standards and little cross-border co-operation.

The break-up of the USSR in the early 1990s had other consequences. Much of the heavy industry in the Caucasus collapsed as state subsidies were removed. As a result, emissions of greenhouse gases fell dramatically, particularly in Georgia and Armenia, as shown in a 2011 report by the Environment and Security Initiative, the UN Environment Programme and others.

Land was removed from state control after the collapse of the USSR, but experts say that agriculture in much of the region is now in crisis as farmers struggle to cope without any state help. Recent freak hail storms, which destroyed crops, mean that more people are leaving the land to seek jobs in cities or abroad.

“Climate change is just one more problem that the mainly agricultural economies in this region are facing,” Harutyunyan says.

“We are going to have to adapt, but there is still a lot of scepticism. Many say there are too many uncertainties. I tell them that uncertainty cannot be an excuse for inaction.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The melting snows of Mount Ararat are a stark warning of growing problems in a fragile region so fragmented by conflict that unified efforts to address climate change are severely restricted

ARMENIA, 25 June – Mount Ararat, the 5,137-metre outcrop on which some believe Noah and his Ark survived the great flood, is a symbol of identity to many millions of Armenians. It has also become a symbol of conflict – and its warming climate is a likely harbinger of change to come in the region.

The mountain is not in Armenia but in Turkey, its conical, snow-covered peak visible across a closed and heavily-militarised border. But now Ararat’s snows – seen all year round, even when summer temperatures reach nearly 40C on the plains below – are melting.

A 2012 study by Turkish geologists, published in the Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, found that Ararat’s glaciers declined in size by nearly 30% between 1976 and 2008. It concluded that a rise in temperatures on the mountain, coupled with a fall in precipitation, were the likely causes of the glacial reduction.

Erratic rainfall

Further north, in the Caucasus mountains, there’s a similar story. The Earth Policy Institute calculates that glacial volume in the Caucasus has decreased by 50% over the last century, with particularly sharp declines in ice cover over the last 20 years. Across the region, summer temperatures are increasing, while rainfall patterns are becoming increasingly erratic.

However, regional rivalries and conflicts among the nations of the Caucasus make any unified approach to addressing these problems extremely difficult.

Landlocked Armenia, with a population of just over three million, has no official relations either with Turkey, to the west, or Azerbaijan, to the east. Georgia, with its population of four and half million, recently went to war with its northern neighbour Russia over the disputed territory of South Ossetia.

Diana Harutyunyan, one of Armenia’s negotiators at UN climate meetings and also a UN Development Programme climate change co-ordinator, says: “Armenia and countries in this region, with their semi-arid climates and fragile ecosystems, are extremely vulnerable to climate change.

“One of the key problems is that we don’t have a common voice and don’t really make ourselves heard; we are not a grouping, but tend to act individually.

“Not only are we seeing a clear downward trend in precipitation and a rise in temperatures in many areas, but also there’s increasing desertification – caused not just by changes in climate but by the wholesale chopping down of trees.

“All of this has major economic implications, but, to be honest, this region is not very active, and there is a serious lack of research and data. For example, none of the countries in the region have statistics on climate change and its impact on public health.”

Little co-operation

When the Caucasus region formed part of the Soviet Union, climate data collection was carried out on a region-wide basis; now it is done by each individual country, with varying standards and little cross-border co-operation.

The break-up of the USSR in the early 1990s had other consequences. Much of the heavy industry in the Caucasus collapsed as state subsidies were removed. As a result, emissions of greenhouse gases fell dramatically, particularly in Georgia and Armenia, as shown in a 2011 report by the Environment and Security Initiative, the UN Environment Programme and others.

Land was removed from state control after the collapse of the USSR, but experts say that agriculture in much of the region is now in crisis as farmers struggle to cope without any state help. Recent freak hail storms, which destroyed crops, mean that more people are leaving the land to seek jobs in cities or abroad.

“Climate change is just one more problem that the mainly agricultural economies in this region are facing,” Harutyunyan says.

“We are going to have to adapt, but there is still a lot of scepticism. Many say there are too many uncertainties. I tell them that uncertainty cannot be an excuse for inaction.” – Climate News Network