War, Plague No Match for Deforestation in Driving CO2 Buildup

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L’effet positif sur le climat de la conquête de Gengis Khan ecolo

Une statue de Gengis Khan à Oulan-Bator en Mongolie © AFP PHOTO/TEH Eng Koon

Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes had an impact on the global carbon cycle as big as today’s annual demand for gasoline. The Black Death, on the other hand, came and went too quickly for it to cause much of a blip in the global carbon budget. Dwarfing both of these events, however, has been the historical trend towards increasing deforestation, which over centuries has released vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as crop and pasture lands expanded to feed growing human populations. Even Genghis Kahn couldn’t stop it for long.

Carnegie Institue for Science

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