Researchers studying the sudden collapse of Mayan civilization a millennium ago have identified a new culprit: climate change.
Mayan civilization flourished in Central America from about 300 A.D. to 1,000 A.D., producing extensive cities and towering temples, but suffered a dramatic and bloody collapse. A team of archaeologists studied clues to local weather patterns contained in stalagmites dating from the classical Mayan period and noted that the region experienced a shift from wet weather to dry weather after 660 A.D., Reuters noted.
That shift disrupted Mayan agriculture, causing hunger and fueling social unrest. Mayan kings saw their power challenged, and political structures collapsed. Lengthy droughts fter 1,000 A.D. resulted in the wholesale abandonment of Mayan cities, which quickly disappeared under tropical vegetation.
While the climate change that affected Mayan civilization was part of natural weather cycles, the researches suggested that modern climate change, fueled by industrial emissions, could produce similar crop failures and political instability, leading potentially to economic and political crises.
Back in March, two major surveys of American youth found that members of the Millennial generation — those born in the 1980s and 1990s — were significantly less interested in environmental issues compared to Baby Boomers and members of Generation X.