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      Global climate change, war, and population decline in recent human history.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Climate, Greenhouse Effect, History, 15th Century, History, 16th Century, History, 17th Century, History, 18th Century, History, 19th Century, History, 20th Century, History, 21st Century, History, Ancient, History, Medieval, Humans, Population Density, Temperature, War

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          Abstract

          Although scientists have warned of possible social perils resulting from climate change, the impacts of long-term climate change on social unrest and population collapse have not been quantitatively investigated. In this study, high-resolution paleo-climatic data have been used to explore at a macroscale the effects of climate change on the outbreak of war and population decline in the preindustrial era. We show that long-term fluctuations of war frequency and population changes followed the cycles of temperature change. Further analyses show that cooling impeded agricultural production, which brought about a series of serious social problems, including price inflation, then successively war outbreak, famine, and population decline successively. The findings suggest that worldwide and synchronistic war-peace, population, and price cycles in recent centuries have been driven mainly by long-term climate change. The findings also imply that social mechanisms that might mitigate the impact of climate change were not significantly effective during the study period. Climate change may thus have played a more important role and imposed a wider ranging effect on human civilization than has so far been suggested. Findings of this research may lend an additional dimension to the classic concepts of Malthusianism and Darwinism.

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          Most cited references 12

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          Low-frequency signals in long tree-ring chronologies for reconstructing past temperature variability.

          Preserving multicentennial climate variability in long tree-ring records is critically important for reconstructing the full range of temperature variability over the past 1000 years. This allows the putative "Medieval Warm Period" (MWP) to be described and to be compared with 20th-century warming in modeling and attribution studies. We demonstrate that carefully selected tree-ring chronologies from 14 sites in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) extratropics can preserve such coherent large-scale, multicentennial temperature trends if proper methods of analysis are used. In addition, we show that the average of these chronologies supports the large-scale occurrence of the MWP over the NH extratropics.
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            Global scale climate–crop yield relationships and the impacts of recent warming

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              Was there a ?medieval warm period?, and if so, where and when?

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                18048343
                2148270
                10.1073/pnas.0703073104

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