Was Climate Change To Blame For The Rise And Fall Of Rome?

Photo: Pollinator (CC)

Photo: Pollinator (CC)

BBC News is reporting that new scientific research on tree rings shows some remarkable correlations with the ebb and flow of civilizations:

An extensive study of tree growth rings says there could be a link between the rise and fall of past civilisations and sudden shifts in Europe’s climate.

A team of researchers based their findings on data from 9,000 wooden artifacts from the past 2,500 years.

They found that periods of warm, wet summers coincided with prosperity, while political turmoil occurred during times of climate instability.

The findings have been published online by the journal Science.

“Looking back on 2,500 years, there are examples where climate change impacted human history,” co-author Ulf Buntgen, a paleoclimatologist at the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape, told the Science website.

Ring record

The team capitalised on a system used to date material unearthed during excavations.

“Archaeologists have developed oak ring width chronologies from Central Europe that cover nearly the entire Holocene and have used them for the purpose of dating artefacts, historical buildings, antique artwork and furniture,” they wrote.

“Chronologies of living and relict oaks may reflect distinct patterns of summer precipitation and drought.”

The team looked at how weather over the past couple of centuries affected living trees’ growth rings.

During good growing seasons, when water and nutrients are in plentiful supply, trees form broad rings, with their boundaries relatively far apart.

But in unfavourable conditions, such as drought, the rings grow in much tighter formation.

The researchers then used this data to reconstruct annual weather patterns from the growth rings preserved in the artefacts.

Once they had developed a chronology stretching back over the past 2,500 years, they identified a link with prosperity levels in past societies, such as the Roman Empire…

[continues at BBC News]

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  • Hadrian999

    there were many reasons for the fall of rome, climate change may have contributed but you can’t really call it THE cause

  • Hadrian999

    there were many reasons for the fall of rome, climate change may have contributed but you can’t really call it THE cause

  • Yakir

    But, Rush and Sean and others said there is no global warming… surely THEY could never be wrong ;)

  • Yakir

    But, Rush and Sean and others said there is no global warming… surely THEY could never be wrong ;)

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well…if you qualify attacking barbarians, fractured leadership and an overextended military as a climate…then sure.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well…if you qualify attacking barbarians, fractured leadership and an overextended military as a climate…then sure.

  • Alex

    Funny For the last couple of centuries Rome seems to have fallen because of the cause of the day.
    In the 19th century it was moral turpitude.
    In the ’40s the Germans occupied half of Europe, so it was attributed to being overrun by the Visigoths.
    In the ’70s with concerns for pollution the Rome fell because of from lead poisoning.
    In ’90s deforestation was blamed. Now it’s climate change. Tomorrow it will be lack of water, or evil bankers or all of the above.I’m still waiting for the book blaming bankers for the fall of Rome. It’s probably being written as we post this.

  • Alex

    Funny For the last couple of centuries Rome seems to have fallen because of the cause of the day.
    In the 19th century it was moral turpitude.
    In the ’40s the Germans occupied half of Europe, so it was attributed to being overrun by the Visigoths.
    In the ’70s with concerns for pollution the Rome fell because of from lead poisoning.
    In ’90s deforestation was blamed. Now it’s climate change. Tomorrow it will be lack of water, or evil bankers or all of the above.I’m still waiting for the book blaming bankers for the fall of Rome. It’s probably being written as we post this.

  • WhiteRose

    Must be a conspiracy! I’m sure future generations will be looking back wondering what the hell happened to us. They too will never know the truth because Texas decided to edit the text books and Wikipedia is a forever changing joke. Do we think the thought patterns have changed that much since then?

  • WhiteRose

    Must be a conspiracy! I’m sure future generations will be looking back wondering what the hell happened to us. They too will never know the truth because Texas decided to edit the text books and Wikipedia is a forever changing joke. Do we think the thought patterns have changed that much since then?

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Eh, there’s always gonna be a million suspects with death of any phenom as big as an empire.

    For convenience I just shove them all under the heading “Cultural Inertia”. The vested interests in the economic sphere actively work to stifle any innovation that threatens their comfort–even at the cost of refusing to adapt to a changing environment.

    And they enlist the aid of artists, bishops and the army to preserve it. Grows into a deathspiral of narrowing minds and possibilities.

    This is also a symptom of the demographic aging of a polity. They don’t have the energy to learn new tricks and are too paranoid to let the reigns over to the young ‘uns who do have the energy.

    Their designated heirs will be an increasingly freakish parade of inbred incompetents who will always trumpet the value of their social graces and personal comportment over the real merit of any ideas.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Eh, there’s always gonna be a million suspects with death of any phenom as big as an empire.

    For convenience I just shove them all under the heading “Cultural Inertia”. The vested interests in the economic sphere actively work to stifle any innovation that threatens their comfort–even at the cost of refusing to adapt to a changing environment.

    And they enlist the aid of artists, bishops and the army to preserve it. Grows into a deathspiral of narrowing minds and possibilities.

    This is also a symptom of the demographic aging of a polity. They don’t have the energy to learn new tricks and are too paranoid to let the reigns over to the young ‘uns who do have the energy.

    Their designated heirs will be an increasingly freakish parade of inbred incompetents who will always trumpet the value of their social graces and personal comportment over the real merit of any ideas.

  • Aj

    I would suggest the killing of their young, but we do that, and I see no ill effects.

  • Aj

    I would suggest the killing of their young, but we do that, and I see no ill effects.