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Climate change migrations

Oct 13,2018 - Last updated at Oct 13,2018

Learning from environmental exoduses in history is an important contemporary education in order to understand the long-term expected impact of today’s global warming on our civilisation during the 21st century.

At the peak of the warming cycle that extended between 1500 BC and 500 BC, particularly around 1100 BC, historic climate data from ancient ice samples at the poles confirms that it coincided with the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, venturing north into Sinai, then through southern Jordan, across the River Jordan and into Palestine, provided that we take the biblical story to be true.

The exodus was possibly due to failed crops, pastoralist invasion of the richer Nile Delta and poor water mismanagement. However, once the weather changed into a much cooler trend, starting from around 500 BC, we can notice invasions and migrations heading in the other direction south by peoples of the Mediterranean at intermittent times, particularly the Greeks who took control of the Eastern Mediterranean and took over Egypt in the 4th century BC.

Interesting enough, the Romans’ expansion was Romanising Greek cities around the Mediterranean and venturing into the old world, expanding its empire north. The Romans reached Britain in 43 AD, which was possible during a warmer period in the world’s climate that extended from the 1st century BC untill around the 6th century AD. This warming period took off at the beginning of the century preceding the start of the Christian calendar marked as the birth of Jesus Christ.

In Jordan, the Nabatean City of Petra was subdued by the end of the 1st century AD during the transition between cold weather into a warmer climate, which explains some anomalies in history. Thus, although we can say that climate change was an important factor in migration and wars, it was not the only factor of course, as some other decisive factors can exist. For example, there are many other factors pertinent to human nature, such as the free wills that human beings enjoy. For example, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 was against the general hypothesis, as he forced his soldiers towards a climate of severe cold, so his expedition failed at the end as did Hitler`s campaign in the World War II. Conversely, something different happened to Hannibal of Carthage during the Punic wars when he attacked Italy in the 3nd century BC trying to defy natural forces and severe weather conditions in the Alps Mountains; nevertheless, he succeeded!

To conclude, although one might stand against the idea of history repeating itself, yet, we have to admit that we ought to learn from history. As for climate change, we can see climate change induced conflicts forthcoming, therefore we must act now to correct our path towards a more ethical use of our natural resources and towards a greater understanding of the impact of climate change on our planet Earth.


The writer is energy and green buildings consultant. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times. [email protected]

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