Drought! Drought! Drought! We hear it everyday. We feel its effect in the grocery store in the form of higher costs for produce and meat. Our daily television and web-browsing experiences often include stories and pictures of parched farmlands and the individuals who are negatively impacted economically and socially by this year’s extremely dry weather. At the same time, we hear the naysayers’ criticisms of the insistence that the drought is caused by climate change. They contend that we are experiencing a natural cycle that will change soon. They admonish that proposed EPA standards to protect the environment from pollution are part of a political agenda and are based on a myth.

A study cited this week by the U.S. Geological Survey notes that “humans have a long history of having to deal with climate change”. http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3359#.UD9kbI5vd8u. The results of this research was published in July’s edition of Geology and points to the lack of available water in Egypt and other ancient civilizations as the major player in the collapse of these societies. The researchers examined pollen and charcoal preserved in the Nile Delta sediment dating back 7,000 years to present to define the physical mechanisms affecting critical events in ancient Egyptian history. The goal was to see if changes in pollen assemblages would reflect ancient Egyptian and Middle East droughts in archeological and historical records. Additionally, the researchers examined the presence and level of charcoal because increased fire frequency during extended periods of drought also would result in larger charcoal deposits.

The study results did support the hypotheses, with findings of increased microscopic charcoal in the core sediment during four recorded periods of drought. These findings are from recorded events, independent of political agenda, occurring in Egypt and in the Uruk Kingdom when modern Iraq collapsed. A second event was noted in the eastern Mediterranean and is collaborated with the fall of the Ugarit Kingdom and famines in the Babylonian and Syrian Kingdoms.

Studies such as these are crucial to our very existence. The objective and scientific determination of factors resulting in the collapse of ancient civilizations provides us with the knowledge and direction to find present-day solutions to these problems. This study concludes that climate change leading to severe drought led to the destruction of these societies. Water conservation,drought prevention, and other measures associated with environmentally friendly living are mandatory to ensure our continued existence on Earth. Yet more reasons to live green, be green!