Did Mayans cause civilization-ending climate change?
    By Hank Campbell | March 1st 2008 08:31 PM | 1 comment | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    The Maya are having a tough 2008. First, the mystery of the cool blue pigment they used in pottery was solved and then we found out that all kinds of Mayans were building temples to do those enlightened sacrifices they did. Everyone's been throwing out theories about the downfall of the Maya; hurricanes, overpopulation, disease, warfare, peasant revolt or (insert your favorite disaster here). Now they're getting the blame for civilization-ending climate change too. How so? They made big changes to their environment without having enough data, that's how. Scientific arrogance mixed with a royal mandate can be a bad thing. It's not a bad lesson for all of us. You may read the somewhat tilted verbage of this National Geographic article and assume that this only applies to big evil corporations - but Ma Nature is a sensitive gal. The wrong decisions based on fashionable data lead to even bigger problems - in their case, disease and war.
    The data suggest that the combination of slash-and-burn agriculture and conversion of the wetlands induced local drought and turned up the thermostat.
    Well, they were trying to feed 60,000 people without a McDonald's in sight so it's understood they would try to get bold but did that read how I think it reads? The global warming-induced temperature change in an area holding 60,000 people was enough to kill them off? A drought makes sense but droughts are more commonly caused by things like overusing land and the resulting disasters from not having backup water sources. There were lots of droughts in the US in the last few hundred years but they weren't because of global warming, they were because it stopped raining. Now, if you've converted all your above ground water sources that help create underground ones and then a drought hits, you are in real trouble but you can't actually blame global warming for that. You have to blame the people who over-managed what they had. If this holds up, the Maya lesson is an important one. Their ecology did not collapse because of cars or light bulbs or CO2 emissions, they collapsed because they made nation-changing decisions without know what the results would be. That's a good lesson in any era. Mega-kudos to Marilyn L at the Newsvine Science Group for the find.


    So the Mayans ended their “long count” calendar on 21st December 2012 and given our compulsion to intellectualize and find answers, there are many opinions on why did their calendar end on this day than any other. Lots of theories of doomsday have been going around; reversal of earth’s magnetic fields, giant intergalactic fire storms destroying planets, apocalypse and the like. There are also some who opinion that earth and its inhabitants will undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation on this day with one cycle getting over and another commencing. An equivalent of a Hindu “uga” coming to an end.

    Coming back to climate change, early on when the climate change discussions started, some adventurous public relations activity successfully branded this as a “save the environment – save earth” campaign. It is certainly not one.

    Were the discussions in Copenhagen aimed at saving the environment “for and in itself “or saving the environment as a means to save the human race?

    In the millions of years that our planet has existed, it has seen many changes to its climate. These changes have inevitably resulted extinction of certain species and permitting others to grow, prosper and dominate the planet. Some view that humans came to dominate earth only as a consequence of dinosaur’s extinction, which in itself was a result of a massive climate change owing to an asteroid collision.

    Life on earth will continue even if there is a radical change to earth’s climate, may be our species will diminish or fade away and others will emerge and dominate. It is important to view the climate change discussions in this light, “to save the human dominance of earth”

    Many say that we have no scientific basis and others say “is science the epitome of all knowledge we have ever had?” Again no definite answers, only opinions some backed by maths and physics and some feel and belief, which is better of the two?? Is our maths and science not another approximation of reality at best, remember Newton’s gravity theory which no longer has any relevance post general relativity! I am sure we will have more opinions on this too. Our cumulative knowledge on this subject is thus effectively limited by our imagination at best.