March 10, 2013

"Climate changes and/or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara."

"Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralized society."

What would have happened in Egypt — today's "History of" country — and in the rest of the history of the world, if those early people had controlled their greedy grazing and not anthropogenerated the Sahara Desert?



IN THE COMMENTS: chickelit said:
Grass guzzlers caused the Sahara. Got it.

20 comments:

DavidD said...

Dang that old anthropogenic global warming, anyway. Must've been all those coal-fired power plants. Oh wait.

Chuck Currie said...

It was agriculture, not grazing...and it still is.

http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

Cheers and burgers

EDH said...

Climate changes and/or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralized society.[1]

The citation for that thesis seems quite weak or even non-existent, if it only applies to the second sentence.

1 Midant-Reynes, Béatrix. The Prehistory of Egypt: From the First Egyptians to the First Kings. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

edutcher said...

De Nile is only a river in Egypt.

PS An anthropologist has theorized the Fruit of Knowledge in the Creation story is really agriculture and its ability to allow people to grow their food independently as opposed to the dependencies of hunting and gathering.

wyo sis said...

and/or
How convenient!

The Drill SGT said...

Wiki can't even keep its PC straight between pages. If on the Egypt page, you take the Sahara link, you know, the great desert caused ny evil man, you get a completely different story that ends with a wetter Sahara:

The climate of the Sahara has undergone enormous variations between wet and dry over the last few hundred thousand years.[15] During the last glacial period, the Sahara was even bigger than it is today, extending south beyond its current boundaries.[16] The end of the glacial period brought more rain to the Sahara, from about 8000 BC to 6000 BC, perhaps because of low pressure areas over the collapsing ice sheets to the north.[17]

Once the ice sheets were gone, the northern Sahara dried out. In the southern Sahara though, the drying trend was soon counteracted by the monsoon, which brought rain further north than it does today. The monsoon season is caused by heating of air over the land during summer. The hot air rises and pulls in cool, wet air from the ocean, which causes rain. Thus, though it seems counterintuitive, the Sahara was wetter when it received more insolation in the summer. This was caused by a stronger tilt in Earth's axis of orbit than today, and perihelion occurred at the end of July around 7000 BC.[18]

By around 4200 BC, the monsoon retreated south to approximately where it is today,[9] leading to the gradual desertification of the Sahara.[19] The Sahara is now as dry as it was about 13,000 years ago.[15] These conditions are responsible for what has been called the Sahara pump theory.

The Sahara has one of the harshest climates in the world. The prevailing north-easterly wind often causes sand storms and dust devils.[20] When this wind reaches the Mediterranean, it is known as sirocco and often reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and southern Europe. Half of the Sahara receives less than 20 mm (0.79 in) of rain per year, and the rest receives up to 100 mm (3.9 in) per year.[21] The rainfall happens very rarely, but when it does it is usually torrential when it occurs after long dry periods.

The southern boundary of the Sahara, as measured by rainfall, was observed to both advance and retreat between 1980 and 1990. As a result of drought in the Sahel, the southern boundary moved south 130 kilometers (81 mi) overall during that period.[22]

Recent signals indicate that the Sahara and surrounding regions are greening because of increased rainfall. Satellite imaging shows extensive regreening of the Sahel between 1982 and 2002, and in both Eastern and Western Sahara a more than 20-year-long trend of increased grazing areas and flourishing trees and shrubs has been observed by climate scientist Stefan Kröpelin.

edutcher said...

PS The term "belly dancing" comes from the Egyptian word, "baladi", meaning folk dancing.

First coined by the British soldiers who went to Egypt to fight Napoleon.

chickelit said...

Grass guzzlers caused the Sahara. Got it.

Michael K said...

The people who thought overgrazing was the problem shot 40,000 elephants and discovered they were wrong. Watch the TED video.

St. George said...

Don't forget the love-happy Romans.

Their overuse of the herb Silphium as a birth-control measure caused its extinction. It grew in modern day Libya.

Many think we get the heart symbol from the shape of this plant's leaves and seeds.

Mel Plontz said...

My uncle Sid told me, when I was a boy, that some of the old timers he knew when he was a kid, back in the day, swore that...

edutcher said...

St. George said...

Don't forget the love-happy Romans.

Their overuse of the herb Silphium as a birth-control measure caused its extinction. It grew in modern day Libya.

Many think we get the heart symbol from the shape of this plant's leaves and seeds.


I read it was the inverted image of the perfect woman's behind.

The Romans were into that.

rhhardin said...

I'd assume that the civilization thrived and the trash formed vast landfill mountains that rose up and condensed all the water out of incoming air, producing the desert.

kcom said...

Do they even listen to themselves?

A few hundred thousand or a few million ancient Egyptians were enough to cause the creation of a desert that pre-dated them by hundreds of thousands of years. That's a neat trick.

kcom said...

Not to mention that it stretches across an entire continent. Now them were some powerful Egyptians. Jus' powerful!

Scott M said...

The Romans were into that.

I thought behinds were more of a Greek thing.

edutcher said...

You never heard of Venus Kallipygos, Goddess of Beautiful Behinds.

Rockport Conservative said...

You must watch this video Watts up with That linked to. It is amazing.
A greenie, as old as I am, admits he was very, very wrong. We need the grazing cattle.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vpTHi7O66pI

John Lynch said...

Something I've noticed- when there is no written record, historical events are caused by climate changes or some other outside force. When records are available, events are driven by human decisions.

If we didn't have written records, I'm sure Rome would have fallen because the climate changed.

Mitch H. said...

If we didn't have written records, I'm sure Rome would have fallen because the climate changed.

I've seen arguments exactly along that lines, specifically from Brian Fagan. It is a (debatable) fact that the Roman imperial period coincided with a warm period - known as the Roman Warm Period, and the early Medieval or Dark Ages period coincided with a notable cold snap which may have been the driving factor in the collapse of Mediterranean-style economies north and west of the Alps, and the collapse of the north African breadbasket regions.