With occasional reflection on the perpetual absurdity/intrigue of life and society in general.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Could Climate Change Have Led To The Fall Of Rome? Image/Story of Intrigue - NPR

Ruins of the Villa of the Quintilii on the outskirts of Rome. Gregorio Borgia/AP

Rome may have fallen hundreds of years ago, but much of the civilization the Romans built still dots the landscape today. One team of scientists recently unearthed a different kind of Roman artifact that may hold a strange clue to the empire's downfall.

A study of tree rings recently published in the journal Science provides evidence of climate shifts that, perhaps not coincidentally, occurred from A.D. 250 to 550, a period better known as the fall of the Roman Empire...

"Like any large civilization — including the civilization we have today — it was highly dependent on predictability of natural resources," Mann says. "It was very heavily adapted to the climate conditions that had persisted for centuries."

But while the tree rings show variability, there is no data for why these climate changes occurred. Global warming contributes to modern climate change, but Rome fell from power long before industrialization.

"Presumably it was some combination of these external natural factors like solar variability and volcanic eruptions, and just the pure sort of chaotic variability of the climate system," Mann speculates.

This new research may not establish cause-and-effect, but it does contribute another factor to explain Rome's fall. It also creates another clue for scientists sleuthing their way into an uncertain climate future.

For the complete article, follow the Link: NPR

I have always noted a definitive parallel between the Roman Empire and the contemporary US domain (post WWII in particular). Unfortunately, America is not always so keen on learning from the past, or even owning up to it. An interesting note from that old liberal arts education - the average Empire throughout history has extinguished within a 300 year span (loosely) - you can do the math. I by no means intend this as some absurd apocalyptic wrangling, and nor do i view the end of US supremacy as a matter of fear or a necessarily devastating blow to humanity. In fact, to some degree, i hold to the possibly foolish notion of social romantics that believe we may yet be capable of evolving from the past and moving forward through progression, innovation, and modesty - into a bold new global reality. The following article is interesting within this context and the image is particularly striking.

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