Thursday, August 14, 2008

When the Earth Warmed and Mankind Was Blameless

North Africa. The Sahara. Moist and lush with verdant forests. Large lakes of cool clear water pockmarked the landscape. Between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago, elephants, giraffes, hartebeasts, warthogs, and many other animals wandered the plains and woodland freely. Fish and crocodiles populated the rivers and lakes. The tall muscular Kiffian people hunted the animals, gathered the flora, drank from the rivers and lakes, and for 2000 years called this place home.

Then the inexplicable happened. The rains didn't come, the rivers no longer fed the lakes with sweet water, the lakes dried up, the forests shriveled. The animals moved south to find water and food. The people followed. Those people and animals who didn't, perished in the rapidly heating climate. Those who died earliest were buried beneath the parching soil, some singularly, others as families.

For a thousand years, the land was parched beneath the unrelenting sun, the baking soil finding surcease only at night when the skies opened to the coolness of space.

A cloud formed over the dying land. As more clouds formed, cool moist sea air met with the hot dry air of the land, rain fell, rivers flowed, lakes filled. In time, animals returned and men came with their families. The Tenerians were shorter than the 6 feet tall Kiffians who had lived on this land in North Africa 1000 years before. The Tenerian's skills were more varied. They hunted, fished, and herded domesticated cattle 7,000 to 4,500 years ago. They made jewelry from hippo tusks, and made jars and cups from clay. Tenerians were an industrious lot who buried their kin with care beneath the verdant soils of the North Africa they called home.

After 2,500 years, the inexplicable happened. Again the rains ceased, the rivers stopped, and the lakes dried. The animals migrated south to water and food, and many of the people followed. Those who remained, perished.

Eight years ago, the hot dry winds of the Sahara Desert unearthed the remains of over 200 Kiffians and Tenerians. Researchers from the University of Chicago were looking for dinosaur bones in the Niger region called Gobero, all but hidden within the Tenere Desert. When they found human bones, they were astonished. They knew they had found remains of people who had lived during green Sahara. The group in the photo is of a Tenerian woman about 40 years old facing two children, one was 8 years old and the other only five when they died and were buried on a bed of flowers.

What caused the drastic climate change from verdant forest land of lakes to a sweltering desert hellhole, not once, but twice? Was it the heavy industrialization dependant upon environmentally damaging carbon releasing agents? Could the climate change have been caused by fossil fuel guzzling ancient SUVs popularized by Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble? Well, that's doubtful as the Kiffians and Tenerians probably had developed only to the point of fire. Granted, they could probably make really big fires, but not big enough to destroy the entire Sahara Forest ecosystem.

No, nothing as ego stroking as that. Human beings of such meager means could hardly have been able to effectuate global climate change. Not like the highly evolved and skilled humans of today. We can witness on our satellite televisions, fiber optic Internet accessible computers, and wireless Internet mobile devices as some religious lunatic barbarian hacks off the head of a hapless infidel on the other side of the planet. We are so advanced, we are so schooled, that we can actually create Global Climate Change out of ozone depleted, carbon dioxide enhanced thin air.

The Sahara today is the world's largest desert and has been for a very long time. Back then, climate change needed outside help and it came when, some 12,000 years ago, Earth slipped out of it's somewhat unstable orbit. When that happened the monsoons came farther north, inundating the arid land making the deserts bloom, attracting animals and people. As Earth settled once again into a stable attitude, the monsoons went south and the verdant vacated. The cycle was repeated and may be repeating now.

Earth wobble may not be as sexy as poison gas hurled into the atmosphere by puny man and it grates to think we are insignificant, but Earth wobble is an explanation that has verifiably happened many times before the current climate variations without any help from mankind's technologies. Earth and Sol will right themselves and man will take credit and become even more narcissistic and dangerous for having learned nothing.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Gayle said...

Indigo, this is a brilliant post! It also makes for quite interesting reading. Kudos!

If Al Gore had been around 10,000 years ago he would probably have blamed it on people building too many fires for cooking. Somehow he would have made money out of it. Well, not really money, but whatever they bartered with. Hopefully those ancients didn't have to deal with an Al Gore along with everything else. Some things are just to miserable to be born. (Pun intended.) :)

Indigo Red said...

Oh, I'm sure the Kiffians and Tenerians had their Al Gores. Great changes tend to bring out the great loons of their day. I'm sure the ancient Gores advocated human sacrifice, especially of those who denied the obvious end of the world.

I really like the triabl names of these peoples. Tenerian - doesn't that just sound all very Star Trek-y.

Kiffians. Now that's an Irish pub band name if I've ever heard one. "Let's give it up for The KIFFIANS!!!"

Mike's America said...

And not so long ago Greenland was just that. All green and lovely. Now it's mostly ice and uninhabitable.

I know the answer as to why this all changed: space aliens driving SUV's working for big oil companies ruined the planet years ago.

No wonder they are afraid to show themselves today!

Indigo Red said...

There were Viking settlements on greenland that were only known by the written record. Researchers came to think the villages were only mythical.

After the glaciers melted away, there they were. Those villages were under the ice, so they had to have been in existence before there was ice covering the continent.

dcat said...

The earth is going to shake all of us off like a bad case of the fleas one of these days.

George Carlin :)