Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Political Climate

Growingly, showingly,
Ancient environments
Influenced trees, and the
Growth of their rings;

Centuries later, the
Use this to tell us what
Climate change brings.

Verily, scarily,
Climate-change scientists
Warn us our actions en-
Danger us all:

Climate effects can be
Sometimes portending an
Empire’s fall.

Via the BBC, just published online in Science, a report on 2500 Years of European Climate Variability and Human Susceptibility. First, ya gotta find a lot of wooden artifacts. Analysis of growth rings from a large enough sample of such artifacts allowed Swiss, German and Austrian scientists to piece together an historical record of good and bad seasons over the past 2.5 millenia. Turns out "good and bad seasons" holds true both for weather and for the relative prosperity of empires.

From the BBC:
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.

"Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity. Increased climate variability from 250-600 AD coincided with the demise of the western Roman empire and the turmoil of the migration period," the team reported.

"Distinct drying in the 3rd Century paralleled a period of serious crisis in the western Roman empire marked by barbarian invasion, political turmoil and economic dislocation in several provinces of Gaul."
I wonder if future dendrochronologists will see us as yet another example.


Porky said...

Yes, but think what new and more powerful techniques they'll surely have, many we might not even imagine now could exist. Will we make interesting or useful subjects for their research? Do we want to? I feel an urge to skew the data.

Theophylact said...

If there are any trees left.

SQB said...

Nice double dactyl! Or, as it's called in Dutch, Ollekebolleke.

Cuttlefish said...

Ollekebolleke is such a better name for them!