– By Jack Minor -
A new report claims that one of history’s most ruthless conquerors was a “green” warrior who helped reduce global warming.
The Carnegie Institute’s Department of Global Ecology conducted a study comparing carbon impacts of a number of historical events including the Black Death. The report claims that Genghis Khan’s conquests resulted in the reduction of over 700 million tons of carbon from the earth’s atmosphere.
Genghis Khan united the nomadic Mongol tribes. During his reign it has been estimated that his military campaigns resulted in the deaths of over 40 million people. His empire encompassed China and Korea as well as significant portions of the Middle East, Russia and Eastern Europe.
The report stated that the Mongol invasions resulted in vast swaths of land being reforested after the local people were killed. The resulting reforestation enabled the forests to absorb the carbon.
Julia Pongratz, who headed the study, said, “It’s a common misconception that the human impact on climate began with the large-scale burning of coal and oil in the industrial era.” While there have been other events that have had impacts, Pongratz said Khan’s conquests were unique.
“We found that during the short events such as the Black Death and the Ming Dynasty collapse, the forest re-growth wasn’t enough to overcome the emissions from decaying material in the soil.” She went on to say the length of the invasions allowed the forests to have time to absorb large amounts of carbon.
The reduction of 700 million tons of carbon due to reforestation that occurred following Khan’s invasions is equivalent to the amount generated by the world from gasoline.
The Sierra Club, an organization which supports carbon reduction through various proposals including increased use of public transportation and electric cars, had no comment on the Carnegie report.
The report appears to be part of a trend away from former declarations by environmentalists including former vice president Al Gore that global warming, or what is now called climate change, is caused exclusively by manmade activities.
Another recent report in Science magazine blamed the fall of the Roman Empire on global warming. The report stated that, based on tree-ring records, the period of decline for the empire occurred during a period of warming. Historians have have believed that the empire fell due to internal weakness resulting in the inability to defend against barbarians.
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