Bummer: Ancient Civilizations Were Destroyed By Climate Change

Mother Nature Network’s Catie Leary is utterly vexed by the loss of 5 ancient civilizations that should have watched their carbon pollution output, which led to their destruction

As we grapple with climate change, it’s important to remember that this isn’t the first time climate change has threatened grand, seemingly unstoppable civilizations.

The Ancestral Puebloans, also known as the “Anasazi” by the Navajo, are one of the most famous examples of an ancient civilization that collapsed due to climate change. Once dominant across the Colorado Plateau in places like Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde (pictured), the Ancestral Puebloans abandoned their distinctive homes sometime in the 12th and 13th centuries, and it’s not completely understood why they left. There’s evidence of warfare, human sacrifice and cannibalism, but many scientists speculate that devastating environmental changes caused by climate change are largely to blame.

According to NOAA’s Paleoclimatology branch, the decline in the Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon villages “coincided with a prolonged drought in the San Juan Basin between 1130 and 1180. Lack of rainfall combined with an overtaxed environment may have led to food shortages. Even the clever irrigation methods of the Chacoans could not overcome prolonged drought. Under these pressures Chaco and the outliers may have experienced a slow social disintegration. The people began to drift away.”

There are four others

  • Khmer Empire of ancient Cambodia, which “by the 15th century, the marvelous city had been laid to waste by ecological overexploitation and a devastating water crisis caused by severe climatic fluctuations.”
  • Norse Viking settlers of Greenland, which she surprisingly mentions was killed off by the Little Ice Age, but still had to add “though the overarching catalyst was likely the result of climate change.”
  • Indus Valley civilization of ancient Pakistan, where she notes “What led to their ruinous state? Two centuries of relentless drought.” This was during, you guessed it, a period of cooling, which also effected Greece and Egypt at the same time.
  • Maya civilization of ancient Mexico, in which “The leading theory, however, is that sudden climate change brought about an extremely severe “megadrought” that lasted 200 years.” Time period? 8th and 9th centuries.

What do all of these have in common? A Holocene cool period. During the preceding warm periods, these cultures flourished. Warm periods which were actually warmer than today, and they didn’t have anything like air conditioning and other technology. Isn’t it wonderful how members of the Cult of Climastrology attempt to scare us about the current warm period using examples of destruction during cool periods? What they’re counting on is that people are too stupid to know that they were cool periods.

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8 Responses to “Bummer: Ancient Civilizations Were Destroyed By Climate Change”

  1. john says:

    Yes Teach but again it was CHANGE that caused the problem. And we are now undergoing a rapid change in our temps. And our most recent 30 year change is running at close to 1F degree in 30 years for an average, however in the Northern Hemisphere (where 90% of human beings live) it is much higher. In the Southern (which is mostly slow to heat water) it is lower

  2. Bob says:

    Good grief…

    It was not a climate change disaster that forced the Anasazi from their historical homes. It the fact they chopped down all their trees for miles and miles around that forced then out. The ever increasing distances they had to travel – by foot, they had no horses – to find firewood became so great they could not carry enough back to make the trips practical. The loss of their trees did indeed cause a local “climate change”.

    Like the Easter Islanders, they thought their wood supply was infinite.

    It wasn’t.

    It is most likely that this is the root cause for the collapse of other civilizations in many other areas.

  3. john says:

    Weird huh? It was a cool period that caused the Chaco Canyon drought but that same cool period was when the Norse did well in North America??? And temps haven’t been this hot in 10000 years and there is no sign that they are going to stop going uphttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5f/All_palaeotemps.svg

  4. Stosh says:

    I can’t wait until they unearth the Anasazi SUVs that caused the climate change…couldn’t possibly be a natural occurrence, must be caused by man .

  5. Jeffery says:


    Did the article blame the climate change on SUVs, or any human activity?

    In fact, there has been climate change without humans causing it. It’s just that this time climate change is being caused by humans adding gigatons of CO2 to the atmosphere each year. And this bout of warming is global although some regions are affected worse than others. The article described regional changes only.

    It would be a shame to go through life ignorant and belligerent. Glad to help.

  6. Jeffery says:

    Teach typed: … Catie Leary is utterly vexed…

    Please point out where in here informative article she seemed utterly vexed.

    We think you’re projecting your own feelings on the author. You expect climate realists and scientists to be vexed data. See Stosh’s nonsensical comment previously. Do you really believe scientists think CO2 from SUVs is the only factor in climate change?

    Your hypothesis that cool periods are more stressful than warm periods is not supported by the evidence. And you certainly haven’t bolstered your argument any. The Holocene has been gradually cooling for the past 6000 years, cooled almost 0.4C in the past 1000 years, then shot up in past century or so.

  7. jl says:

    “Then shot up in the past century or so.” I’m terrified. Of course, the debate is why they allegedly “shot up”, not that they did. And it’s easy to make them shoot up when the data gets adjusted to cool the past and warm the present. And again, shot up compared to what? You have no other 100 year periods where thermometers were available, so the terms “rapid” and “shot up” are simply unsupported drama. “Change caused the problem..” Good one John, because this must be the only time the climate has changed. “Cool periods more stressful than warm ones not supported by evidence.” Thank you for saying that, because there’s also no evidence that warm periods would be more stressful than cool ones, other than all the speculative scare stories from the astrologers that have turned out wrong. But speaking of short time periods, cold weather kills about 20 times the number of people than hot weather does.

  8. Jeffery says:


    Good. So you’re back to claiming that the warming is a hoax.

    Is it really your contention that during the Holocene there were undetected 0.8C temperature excursions? And since you only trust thermometers why do you claim it was previously warmer than today??

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