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Mongolian Dreaming

10 December 2016
Climate change

At www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2016/dec/07/archaeology-sheds-light-on-… … which is one of those doom laden Guardian non-stories that get the CAGW tribe all excited and bleating like sheep. Apparently, global warming is going to cause mayhem in Mongolia. They arrive at this conclusion by manipulating a story on medieval climate in the region. What was it like in that part of the world in the 13th century AD? Well, Genghis Khan is not exactly your normal type Guardian cuddly person, although many of these so called cuddlies do have a sinister side – but nothing as bad as Genghis. He was driven by the idea of the mandate of heaven. Signs in the sky prophesied his life time's work, conquest of the world. Unfortunately the world was a lot bigger than Genghis had been led to believe – and he ran out of steam as he approached three score years and ten. Mind you, the Guardian and its CAGW brigade also think they have a mandate – not of the heavens but an equally nefarious source (climate models). 

We are told global temperatures will rise by 2 degrees C in this century. Oh what faith they have – even as we enter a cooling period. They add, just to make sure northern Europe and Mongolia are both in the basket of doom to come, that in northern latitudes and high altitudes the temperature change will be even worse – above 2 degrees. Long trousers will be out of fashion and togas will make a come back (we have buttons now you know rather than those clasps and brooches the Romans had). No more boring overcoats in the winter – and scarves will be history (and ear muffs).

At the moment Siberia (and Mongolia) have been experiencing one of the coldest autumns for years. Oh what mirth they make for the unenlightened. However, when at last they come down to earth we start to learn a few things. Mongolia is prone to a dry, cold and inhospitable environment, the right conditions for breeding some of the toughest people in the world. Historically, they made a living from the herding of livestock – sheep, horses,cattle, even camels and yaks. They are used to the extremes of climate which include droughts and loss of pasture. The early life of Genghis Khan appears to coincide with one such drought as he and his group of nomads competed with other tribes for the best pasture, which had shrunk. He learnt to fight battles and outwit his enemies in the process. In contrast, it seems the Mongol Empire (of the 13th and 14th centuries AD) coincided with a wetter environment. It allowed them to expand their range right across central Asia, absorbing other tribes in the process. How did that happen? Well, we have seen a few months ago that the Caspian and Aral seas have a history of expansion and contraction. The expansion of the lake levels coincides with wetter weather in central Asia – and this appeared to coincide with cooler phases of climate (as set in during the 13th and 14th centuries). The jet stream moved south and brought higher levels of precipitation to regions such as Kazakhstan and southern Siberia.

It is interesting to note the introduction of livestock pastoralism is thought to have been introduced to the Mongols in the cool phase of climate following the end of the LB age in western Asia (end of Shang in China). And again, the Yuagnu Empire, an early phase of Mongol expansion, took place in the late first millennium BC, coinciding once more with wetter weather. The Guardian reporter assumes the weather is going to continue getting warmer – which is total guesswork and almost certainly untrue. The onset of a cooler period of climate will mean big changes in central Asia – and wetter weather. Is it going to be drought, and dried up grass browning in the heat, or rain and lots of the green stuff, lush and sweet enough to tickle a horses fancy.

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