Politics & Policy

How Climate Change Influenced the End of the Late Bronze Age

No gas guzzlers were needed for 3,100-year-old environmental disaster.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued its latest warning. The ice caps are melting, water supplies are declining, heat waves and heavy rains are increasing in frequency, and coastal communities are under threat because of man-made climate change.

“Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps,” the new IPCC report says. The panel projects that these changes will cause conflict over land and resources, including water and food.

This has happened before.

According to archeologist Eric H. Cline in his new book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, the great ancient civilizations of the Egyptians, the Hittites, the Mycenaens, the Canaanites, and the Cypriots in the Late Bronze Age may have fallen in large part due to climate change, nearly three millennia before mankind’s first industrial revolution.

Back in the second millennium B.C., civilized societies stretched from Mesopotamia though Egypt to Greece and Italy. These societies traded goods and personnel through an interconnected network, the New York Post’s Larry Getlen writes in a review of 1177 B.C. But each of these civilizations fell in the decades surrounding 1177 B.C. because of violent incursions from a group called the Sea Peoples, a marauding group thought to comprise six different sects, including the Philistines of Biblical lore.

Though many factors including “seismic disasters, . . .  internal rebellions, and ‘systems collapse;’” caused the end of these civilizations, Cline writes, climate change spurred droughts, which in turn caused famine, which may have led to the Sea Peoples to migrate, and to come into violent conflict with the peoples settled on the land they were trying to take. The ensuing wars weakened these once great civilizations, and they never rose to their previous prominence again.

As I have written before, if this analysis is true and if climate change contributed to the fall of the Mediterranean civilizations in the Late Bronze Age, that alone does not prove whether anthropogenic global warming (AGW) exists, or to what degree it exists.

But the IPCC and world leaders — including Secretary of State John Kerry — claim AGW will cause severe weather, drought, famine, and conflict in the future, the same effects natural climate change may have caused in the past.

Alarmists claim that humans are the primary cause of all the Earth’s environmental fluctuations. They overlook that nature played the role alarmists now assume man is playing, three thousand years before humanity built its first factory.

— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.


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