07 maio 2017

Climate Change Incited Wars Among the Classic Maya

A new study of the relationship between climate change and clashes among the Classic Maya explicitly links temperature increases with growing conflicts.  This is the so-called Classic period in which the Mesoamerican civilization boomed, with its people constructing extensive cities and massive pyramids, as well as developing one of the earliest writing systems in the Americas. To study how climate change and climate stress interacted with human conflict, the researchers cataloged inscriptions on monuments related to violent struggles and compiled temperature and rainfall records for lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula.

A total of 144 unique conflicts emerged from inscriptions on monuments from more than 30 major Maya centers. The research team then compared conflict records to palaeoclimate data. The correlation was impressive. From 350 CE to 900 CE, conflicts increased from 0 to 3 in every 25-year period, to 24 conflicts in every 25-year period. That’s a 600% increase.

The change in conflicts was not associated with changes in rainfall, previously theorized to be the cause of Mayan climate change. But the conflicts did correspond with increases in summer temperatures. We are still figuring out exactly how this caused increased warfare in the Classic Maya.The leading theory is that crop shortfalls occur frequently above a certain temperature. And history in general tells us that when people are hungry, wars increase.

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