Was climate change responsible for the Mongol hordes? - PostPartisan - The Washington Post
Was climate change responsible for the Mongol hordes?Stromberg flashback
First scientists told us that a “distinct drying” during the third century might have encouraged the fall of the Roman Empire, prompting critics to decry the idea as the “latest global warming scare tactic.” Now the journal Science is highlighting similar speculations that wet and warm conditions in the central Asian steppe in the 13th century help explain the exceptionally rapid expansion of the imfamously cruel Mongols under Genghis Khan.
Mongol horsemen relied on domesticated animals; Amy Hessl, one of the scientists involved in the research, explained to LiveScience in July that a single Mongol fighter required 10 horses, plus livestock that could keep up with the horde and provide food. Wetter conditions in the steppe would have encouraged grass and other plants to grow, providing plentiful grazing opportunities for all sorts of animals. When the climate became colder and dryer in the middle of the 13th century, the Mongol Empire splintered, and its rulers moved their capital away from the steppe to modern-day Beijing.
It is, in fact, because scientists deduced that plantlife flourished and then failed in Mongolia during this period that they can make these connections. Both the Mongol and the Roman hypotheses rely on the information researchers such as Hessl gathered from tree rings. Wider rings indicate more favorable growing conditions. Thinner ones indicate leaner times. Matching up tree rings with historical dates produces fascinating correlations.
[Stromberg] Gleick, the president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, admitted Monday night that he dishonestly obtained fundraising and strategy document from the Heartland Institute, an obnoxious anti-climate science think tank. In the process, he’s done more to discredit himself and his work than he has to expose cynicism and collusion among global-warming deniers.
It’s very tempting for scientists and their allies to employ to tactics of their aggressive critics....
Whatever the misdeeds of those who attack climate research, however braindead the opposition to climate scientists appears to be, advocates degrade themselves when they allow their frustrations to get the better of their ethical responsibilities. They lend credence to the (wrong) impression that both sides of the debate are equally worthy of criticism, that global warming is another ideological war that both sides fight deceitfully...
Taking the high road is not easy or fun. But Gleick and the rest of us who favor decarbonizing the world economy have to be, and should want to be, the adults in the debate. Gleick’s confession and apology Monday are more than climate scientists ever got from deniers for the overblown “Climategate” e-mail scandal.