Climate change is currently a hot political topic but we have seen that the dynamics of climate led to the destruction of many cultures in the past. What usually happened to the people when a...

Climate change is currently a hot political topic but we have seen that the dynamics of climate led to the destruction of many cultures in the past. What usually happened to the people when a culture collapsed from drought, for example?  

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pnrjulius eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nothing good. Several great civilizations have collapsed as a result of climate disruptions, and drought in particular appears to have been the cause behind the fall of both the Old Kingdom in Egypt and possibly the Mayan Empire as well.

The best-case scenario for the people of a fallen civilization was to integrate into a new civilization; in fact, many people in conquered civilizations probably barely noticed, because the new king was much like the old king.

But a civilization destroyed by climate disruption usually didn't offer that option; sometimes people were able to migrate to other places, but often they simply died. The scarcity created by droughts also often triggered wars that accelerated the collapse.

Does this mean that our own civilization is on the verge of collapse due to climate change? I don't think matters are so dire. Our technology is far more advanced now, and we have a lot of options our ancestors didn't for preventing or adapting to climate change.

That doesn't mean climate change won't cause huge damage---it almost certainly will. But we probably don't have to worry about going the way of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.

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