Washington: A new study has found that climate change is not a recent phenomena – in fact, humans began influencing climate at least 8000 years ago.
“Humans didn’t wait for the industrial revolution to provoke environment and climate change. They have been having an influence for at least 8000 years,” said Jed Kaplan at Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne.
Kaplan and his colleague Kristen Krumhardt have developed a model that demonstrates the link between population increase and deforestation.
The story of climate change starts with farmers, who didn’t have the prevailing technology to allow them an optimal use of the soil at first. With time, irrigation, better tools, seeds and fertilizer became more efficient, counterbalancing the increase in population, and contain the impact of human pressure on the natural environment.
The results of this research show a first major boom in carbon emissions already 2000 years before our era, corresponding to the expansion of civilizations in China and around the Mediterranean.
Lastly, a significant decrease in emissions began in the 16th century – the one that would bring in the ice age.
“Thanks to the reports of the early explorers, we know that the forests were less abundant on the American continent. Then the settlers gradually eliminated the indigenous population,” said Kaplan.
“Of course, it’s only a hypothesis”, he concluded, “but given the data we have gathered, it’s entirely plausible”.
The model is not in contradiction with the previous ones on one critical point: the enormous increase in emissions from the beginning of the industrial era, and the massive use of fossil fuels.
“We are just saying that our influence on the climate began a lot earlier than we thought. In 6000 BC, we were already accumulating significant quantities of carbon in the atmosphere, even though it was nothing compared to the situation today,” he said.