A study by Washington State University reminds us that it’s not just heat that causes negative impacts from climate change. Researchers concluded that cold weather rather than heat may have lead to the collapse of the civilization located on the outskirts of the Tibetan Plateau around 2000 B.C.
Effects on Staple Crops
The problem wasn’t about rising sea levels or rising temperatures. Rather it involved the impacts of climate on a staple crop, namely, millet. Millet thrives in warm areas. It is also drought resistance, making it a good crop for the drier countries of Africa as well as the Plains states in the United States.
The end of the warm Holocene Climatic Optimum ushered in a trend toward cooling temperatures. The change in climate made it difficult to grow millet. Even more interesting is the response of farmers later in that same region. Archaeologists had noted the presence of wheat and barley seeds.
Coming Full Circle
The changing climate favored the cultivation of these crops, thus, explaining their presence at the sites. As researcher, Jade D’Alpoim Guedes, notes the irony of these findings is that the area is coming full circle. Rising temperatures are interfering with residents’ ability to raise yak, the modern-day staple for sustenance.
The takeaway offers some valuable lessons. First, abrupt climate change represents the true danger. It comes down to wildlife’s or farmers’ ability to adapt to a changing world. It’s not simply a matter of moving your village if times get harsh. It’s also the ability to be able to move toward more hospitable regions.
Second, climate change is a complex phenomenon. It isn’t just about temperatures rising. Climate change impacts regions differently because each is its own unique blend of geography, climate, and land use. It’s perhaps an unfortunate thing that climate change has come to a simplistic statement of a 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature rise.
Finally, the message from this study is worth repeating. We are all dependent on the climate, whether it’s directly or indirectly.