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And a History Lesson about Climate Change

It is not the first time that our planet is experiencing a Climate Change. But history shows us that when great civilizations in their heyday exaggerated themselves or pushed the consumption of natural resources to extremes, the effects of climate change were amplified with dire consequences for them.

An example is the Mayan civilization which, while lasting for about 3,000 years, it experienced a decline due to a long period of drought that destroyed crops and reduced water supplies but also due to overpopulation that strained resources and led to violent conflicts with other nations.

Another closer to us example is in the wider Mediterranean region. Here we see the decline and disappearance of the Akkadian Empire that dominated Mesopotamia for a century about 4,000 years ago. The empire was flourishing but around 2,200 BC things changed. The reasons for the sudden decline and disappearance of the mighty empire was a mystery to archaeologists until a few years ago when French and American scientists based on combined archaeological and paleoclimatic evidence presented strong evidence in the journal Science that climate change played a major role in the collapse of this advanced society. According to their research the empire was destroyed due to changing climatic conditions. First a large volcanic eruption covered the area with ash. Then the rich farmland of northern Mesopotamia was hit by a sudden drought that lasted 300 years and affected the agricultural crops and farmers who abandoned their land and flocked to the cities of southern Mesopotamia - in what is now Iraq.As a result of this large wave of migration and the unexpected influx of refugees into these areas, the resources of urban society were overstretched. Written records show that city leaders raised walls to keep the migrants out, causing violent conflicts that eventually led to the fall of the empire and its disappearance from the face of the earth.

And to come to recent times, there is an ongoing and intense debate about whether climate change and drought have influenced the outbreak of the civil war in Syria that resulted in waves of migration to Europe. In the years 2006-2010, the so-called Fertile Crescent in the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia was hit by the worst drought in meteorological history. This could be due to the increasing emission of carbon gases into the atmosphere. The drought had a devastating impact on agricultural production in north-eastern Syria. As a result a large number of people left these areas in search of work in less affected parts of the country. This population movement put a lot of pressure on housing, labor market and provision of public goods. In 2011, civil war broke out in Syria after the Arab Spring uprisings had spread across much of the region. The immediate causes of the conflict were popular discontent with the government. However, the possibility that the poor handling of the drought that hit the country may have fueled this discontent cannot be ruled out, nor can the possibility that the drought was the result of climate change.

Whoever is right in this debate, we cannot overlook the fact that since the industrial revolution and up to the present day, increasing amounts of polluting gases have been released into the atmosphere, causing an unprecedented rate of warming.

We examined above how a thriving civilization one of the first strong empires was, according to the evidence presented by researchers, the first that we know that collapsed as a result of abrupt climate change. Its collapse should become an example of what could happen to modern society in times of environmental upheaval and large waves of migration. Because when environmental conditions affect people's lives, they are forced to leave the affected areas and migrate to richer ones, thus increasing the pressure on the resources of these areas and causing more problems.

Nowadays the alarm bells are ringing because by 2050, global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C or even 2°C more than it is today with devastating effects. Rising sea levels will threaten cities and settlements located in coastal areas. The drought that will affect many parts of the world will threaten agricultural and livestock farms. Torrential rains resulting from rising sea temperatures will hit communities and crops. These will lead the inhabitants of the affected areas to mass migrations similar to those seen thousands of years ago in search of a better place to live where they will have access to food and clean water.

We should not underestimate the challenge we are facing due to climate change. But we, unlike earlier, powerful civilizations, are today able to prevent the consequences even now in "the last minute". As long as we all contribute to the effort as each one of us should do.

At E-On Integration we are working to assist in this effort by helping businesses to become more resilient and sustainable in the conditions they will be facing in the very near future so that they can continue to produce products and services and contribute to society.


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