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New study on the collapse of Mayan civilization should be climate wake-up call

New study on the collapse of Mayan civilization should be climate wake-up call

Under Trump’s policies, the megadrought that devastated the Mayans will become the new normal.

Mayan civilization ruins, Quintana Roo, Mexico, February 2016. CREDIT: DeAgostini/Getty Images
MAYAN CIVILIZATION RUINS, QUINTANA ROO, MEXICO, FEBRUARY 2016. CREDIT: DEAGOSTINI/GETTY IMAGES

A new study finds that it was a severe and long-lasting megadrought that destroyed the great Mayan civilization a thousand years ago.

But the research has ominous relevance for us today since America’s top scientists have warned us that President Trump’s climate policies will make such civilization destroying megadroughts commonplace in the coming decades.

The Mayans had one of the world’s first written languages, used advanced mathematics, measured timed with an accurate calendar, produced durable rubber three millennia ago, and figured out “how to grow corn, beans, squash and cassava in sometimes-inhospitable places.”

Yet after reaching its height in its “Classic” period (250 AD – 800 AD), the Mayan empire collapsed over the next two hundred years. While many theories have been offered — including environmental degradation, war, and drought — researchers from Cambridge’s Godwin Laboratory for Palaeoclimate Research have shown that the collapse “correlated with an extended period of extreme drought.”

In a recent study published in the journal Science, “Quantification of drought during the collapse of the classic Maya civilization,” the researchers calculated for the first time just how bad the drought was.

From 800 to 1000 AD, they found, “Annual rainfall must have fallen by around 50% on average and by up to 70% during peak drought conditions.” In addition, “relative humidity dropped by 2% to 7%” compared to today.

“The role of climate change in the collapse of Classic Maya civilization is somewhat controversial, partly because previous records are limited to qualitative reconstructions, for example whether conditions were wetter or drier,” explained lead author Nick Evans.

“Our study represents a substantial advance as it provides statistically robust estimates of rainfall and humidity levels during the Maya downfall.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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