Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ancient Maya News

News reports today suggested that the ancient Maya "empire", which suddenly and unilaterally crashed, declined so precipitously (no pun intended) partly because their farmers' deforestation efforts led to a dryer climate and exacerbated a natural drought.

Of course, combining "climate change" and "sudden crash" and "Maya" in an article led to all kinds of interwebular hilarity.

Laboratory Equipment's newsroom (you can tell I was reading this at work, can't you?) put it this way:
The idea that the Maya changed the climate by clearing away jungle, partly causing their demise [was modeled and an] estimate of a 5 to 15 percent reduction in rainfall [was obtained].
Laboratory Equipment goes on to add:
Archeologists attribute a variety of factors to the collapse of the Classic Maya, whose ancestors are still living today in parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. 
Lab Equipment does not explain why the scientists didn't just speak to those still-living ancestors, who, since they continue to dwell in the same place, most likely talked to their descendants before those descendants died and presumably could tell us what happened to them.

The fun was hardly begun, however. In a report on the news item, Live Science asked, "What Was Behind Mysterious Collapse of the Mayan Empire?"

It answered:
The city states of the ancient Mayan empire flourished in southern Mexico and northern Central America for about six centuries. Then, around A.D. 900 Mayan civilization disintegrated. [...]
Scientists have found that drought played a key role, but the Mayans appear to have exacerbated the problem by cutting down the jungle canopy to make way for cities and crops[...].  Their results [...] suggested that when deforestation was at its maximum, it could account for up to 60 percent of the drying. (The switch from trees to corn reduces the amount of water transferred from the soil to the atmosphere, which reduces rainfall.)
I'm still not sure why it was an "empire", but it's a nice write up and ends with a note that rings true - the ruling classes of the Maya, the priests and kings, lived off the backs of the farmers, and in return they were expected to ensure that the gods would bring rain and fertility. When these boons failed to materialize,
"The old political and economic structure dominated by semidivine rulers decayed," the team writes. "Peasants, artisan – craftsmen, and others apparently abandoned their homes and cities to find better economic opportunities elsewhere in the Maya area."
But a well-written article does not guarantee a commentariat blessed with understanding.

Douglas Kleven Barnes wrote:
I was interested in the story until the tired old myth of man's ability to affect the climate was presented. I wonder if there is a way to trace the money trail of this author and see which leftist organization funded his "research".
Of course - you've hit the nail on the head! Those fucking "scientists" are just raking in the big bucks by, uh, studying mesoamerican weather records.

Rudisius Maksimus replies:
I know right? They could just say "it could have contributed to the problem" but no. What about the ancient Egyptians or the Mesopotamian civilizations?? They were located in a desert! Yeah, King Tutankhamen had real sweat v20 Suburban that he cruised around in which led to.....Any scientific debate should not have this kind of biased associated with it. It goes against the very principles of the scientific method itself!
I'm so used to people just writing "IKR?" that it took me a minute to recognize "I know right?" spelled out.  Having worked that out, I couldn't follow the rest of it. I know Geronimo had a Cadillac but it was the first I'd heard about Nebkheprure's sweat Suburban. Presumably he parked it well out of the way of the yearly Nile inundation that provided the fertile Egyptian soil and the irrigation water, just as Sargon kept his Denali out of the extensive irrigation channels that watered the Land Between Two Rivers, otherwise known as The Fertile Crescent.

One Jim Accardi replies, attacking the major factoid in the comment and wisely leaving the rest well alone:
ancient Egypt was not in a desert and neither was Mesopotamia you monkey
Another commenter feels that the money-grubbing scientists are taking their blood money from an even more sinister and shadowy group  - "they".
They'll keep posting this stuff until after December 21st. At first everybody joked about the end of the world but now that "Doomsday" is 4 months away, and people ARE starting to get edgy, scientists, businesses, even the gov't is launching all these 'reports' and 'studies' to assure people that the world won't end. 
But another commenter has a better idea - time traveling viruses from 1492 ended the Maya cities 600 years before they hitched a ride on Columbus. You can tell by the Pilgrims, who were in their Plymouth - presumably the sexy 426 Hemi-Cuda.
The greenies would love to make a case for global warming or weather, but there is no evidence of that. It was more likely disease, like effected the native population of the Northeast US. When the Pilgrims arrived a Plymouth, they found villages abandoned and the native population had been mostly killed off by disease. Their arrival may not have been as welcome a decade earlier.
You see, "there is no evidence for that". And he should know, he reads the interwebs. His view was corroborated by an AOL user who writes:
One would tend to disagree on their facts. The weather pattern in the area are such that the area is close to the equator, second the Mayan cities are located in an area where it rains 75 % of the year, thirdly, they have to read about all the diseased brought over by the Europeans (Conquistadores). the reason for the end of the Mayan culture are endless, but to blame it on a drought. It leads me to believe that this is just another cooked up idea of the global warming cookies to make everybody believe in their smoky, crazy ideas.
Once again, not sure what it means, but I like the idea of the smoky, crazy cookies.

However, the last word must go to Johann Young.
To be on the safe side on this it is easier I believe to put the onus on the English.
Yes, generally speaking, if disappearing natives are suspected, it's always safer to blame the English.

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