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Thread: The "Great Dying" may have caused the "Little Ice Age"

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    The "Great Dying" may have caused the "Little Ice Age"



    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM—BBC reports that a team of scientists from University College London have determined that European colonization of the New World caused the death of so many indigenous people that the event, known as the “Great Dying,” may have impacted the world's climate. Led by geographer Alexander Koch, the team calculated that some 60 million people lived in the Americas before European contact, and that the population dropped to just five or six million within a hundred years as a result of newly introduced diseases, warfare, and social upheavel. The demographic collapse allowed cleared land equal to the area of France to be reclaimed by forest and savannah. The team hypothesizes that the new vegetation would have taken enough carbon from the atmosphere to cause global surface temperatures to fall, resulting in a cooling period known to history as the “Little Ice Age.” To read more about the Great Dying, go to “Conquistador Contagion.”

    https://www.archaeology.org/news/734...climate-change

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    I don't buy it. Economic footprint of 60 million, if that many lived in America way back, was rather small compared to earth's natural environmental forces. If so few could cause 1 degree celsius or more drop in global temperature, imagine how much warming could additional 7 billion people do with their economic and farming footprint now!

    To add to my comparable science, where was the ice age when tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, died during black death of Middle Ages in Europe and Asia?
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I don't buy it. Economic footprint of 60 million, if that many lived in America way back, was rather small compared to earth's natural environmental forces. If so few could cause 1 degree celsius or more drop in global temperature, imagine how much warming could additional 7 billion people do with their economic and farming footprint now!

    To add to my comparable science, where was the ice age when tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, died during black death of Middle Ages in Europe and Asia?
    did black death cause reforestation of agricultural land or pastures?

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    the same was told about Gengis Khan who killed millions of people and depopulation of big areas in Siberia caused regrowth of forests

    if all this is true, humans are causing global warming since at least 5000 years when trees were cut for agriculture and for copper smelting

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    Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492

    Human impacts prior to the Industrial Revolution are not well constrained. We investigate whether the decline in global atmospheric CO2 concentration by 7–10 ppm in the late 1500s and early 1600s which globally lowered surface air temperatures by 0.15C, were generated by natural forcing or were a result of the large-scale depopulation of the Americas after European arrival, subsequent land use change and secondary succession. We quantitatively review the evidence for (i) the pre-Columbian population size, (ii) their per capita land use, (iii) the post-1492 population loss, (iv) the resulting carbon uptake of the abandoned anthropogenic landscapes, and then compare these to potential natural drivers of global carbon declines of 7–10 ppm. From 119 published regional population estimates we calculate a pre-1492 CE population of 60.5 million (interquartile range, IQR 44.8–78.2 million), utilizing 1.04 ha land per capita (IQR 0.98–1.11). European epidemics removed 90% (IQR 87–92%) of the indigenous population over the next century. This resulted in secondary succession of 55.8 Mha (IQR 39.0–78.4 Mha) of abandoned land, sequestering 7.4 Pg C (IQR 4.9–10.8 Pg C), equivalent to a decline in atmospheric CO2 of 3.5 ppm (IQR 2.3–5.1 ppm CO2). Accounting for carbon cycle feedbacks plus LUC outside the Americas gives a total 5 ppm CO2 additional uptake into the land surface in the 1500s compared to the 1400s, 47–67% of the atmospheric CO2 decline. Furthermore, we show that the global carbon budget of the 1500s cannot be balanced until large-scale vegetation regeneration in the Americas is included. The Great Dying of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas resulted in a human-driven global impact on the Earth System in the two centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution.

    So the claim is that CO2 declined by 7-10 ppm in this period, which caused a 0.15 C decline in temperature. They figure that 3.5 ppm of this was directly due to woody vegetation regrowing in depopulated regions of the Americas, and together with carbon cycle feedbacks and land use changes in other parts of the world added up to 5 ppm, accounting for half to two thirds of the total CO2. So I don't think it is supposed to be the cause of the whole Little Ice Age, just a contributing factor. I have no idea how accurate any of this is. The population loss due to multiple epidemic diseases appearing is estimated to have been much more severe in the Americas than the effect of the Black Death in Eurasia.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I don't buy it. Economic footprint of 60 million, if that many lived in America way back, was rather small compared to earth's natural environmental forces. If so few could cause 1 degree celsius or more drop in global temperature, imagine how much warming could additional 7 billion people do with their economic and farming footprint now!

    To add to my comparable science, where was the ice age when tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, died during black death of Middle Ages in Europe and Asia?
    I think it's very likely 60 million people lived in the Americas in the 1490s before the demographic collapse, considering that the still mostly native population afterwards, the 17th century, was estimated at around 10-12 million (I don't recall the precise numbers well). I think the genetic footprint of Native Americans would be even lower if their numbers were much lower than 50-60 million.

    But I agree with you on all the points you raise. If anything, in absolute numbers and in presumed economic/ecological impact (because Eurasian societies were on average much more resource-intensive than the American ones), the loss of dozens of perhaps even as many as 100 million people during the Black Death in all of Eurasia and also North Africa (Egypt was badly affected by the pandemics too) might've caused an even bigger impact. Or maybe they will later suggest that it was the combined 14th century disaster of the Old World coupled with the 16th century disaster of the New World that contributed, in a delayed form, to the Little Ice Age? I'm not convinced, either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Megalophias View Post
    Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492

    Human impacts prior to the Industrial Revolution are not well constrained. We investigate whether the decline in global atmospheric CO2 concentration by 7–10 ppm in the late 1500s and early 1600s which globally lowered surface air temperatures by 0.15C, were generated by natural forcing or were a result of the large-scale depopulation of the Americas after European arrival, subsequent land use change and secondary succession. We quantitatively review the evidence for (i) the pre-Columbian population size, (ii) their per capita land use, (iii) the post-1492 population loss, (iv) the resulting carbon uptake of the abandoned anthropogenic landscapes, and then compare these to potential natural drivers of global carbon declines of 7–10 ppm. From 119 published regional population estimates we calculate a pre-1492 CE population of 60.5 million (interquartile range, IQR 44.8–78.2 million), utilizing 1.04 ha land per capita (IQR 0.98–1.11). European epidemics removed 90% (IQR 87–92%) of the indigenous population over the next century. This resulted in secondary succession of 55.8 Mha (IQR 39.0–78.4 Mha) of abandoned land, sequestering 7.4 Pg C (IQR 4.9–10.8 Pg C), equivalent to a decline in atmospheric CO2 of 3.5 ppm (IQR 2.3–5.1 ppm CO2). Accounting for carbon cycle feedbacks plus LUC outside the Americas gives a total 5 ppm CO2 additional uptake into the land surface in the 1500s compared to the 1400s, 47–67% of the atmospheric CO2 decline. Furthermore, we show that the global carbon budget of the 1500s cannot be balanced until large-scale vegetation regeneration in the Americas is included. The Great Dying of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas resulted in a human-driven global impact on the Earth System in the two centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution.

    So the claim is that CO2 declined by 7-10 ppm in this period, which caused a 0.15 C decline in temperature. They figure that 3.5 ppm of this was directly due to woody vegetation regrowing in depopulated regions of the Americas, and together with carbon cycle feedbacks and land use changes in other parts of the world added up to 5 ppm, accounting for half to two thirds of the total CO2. So I don't think it is supposed to be the cause of the whole Little Ice Age, just a contributing factor. I have no idea how accurate any of this is. The population loss due to multiple epidemic diseases appearing is estimated to have been much more severe in the Americas than the effect of the Black Death in Eurasia.
    Now that makes more sense... but I still doubt its effect would be so profound that it would be strongly perceptible for centuries were it not for the natural causes that added to the minor anthropogenic causes. I'd be very amazed if the mostly Neolithic societies of the Americas had such a profound ecological impact in the atmosphere, considering that even the industrial world with billions of people took many decades to show striking climate changes probably related to its activity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    did black death cause reforestation of agricultural land or pastures?
    The Native Americans weren’t really a culture that had large amounts of land set aside for agriculture or pasture.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    did black death cause reforestation of agricultural land or pastures?
    But you see, people died there and people died here, so both those two events must have same effect

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    Quote Originally Posted by exceededminimumso.. View Post
    But you see, people died there and people died here, so both those two events must have same effect
    if the depopulated areas become populated again soon preventing forest regrowth, it won't have an effect on CO2

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    if the depopulated areas become populated again soon preventing forest regrowth, it won't have an effect on CO2
    In Europe, one "beneficial" effect of the Black Death was that because of the scarcity of labor, the condition of the remaining serfs improved.

    "Before the plague, the large population kept wages from rising. Most peasants did not consider leaving their villages to fi nd work somewhere else. Afterthe plague, workers asked for higher wages and better working conditions.Many lords agreed to these demands, and those who didn’t soon found thatother lords would. Lords began to realize they had less control over workersand began to change what they produced. Many workers were needed to growand harvest grain, so some lords began to raise sheep instead. Raising sheeprequired fewer workers and there were more customers for the meat and forwoolen clothing. As their incomes rose, people were able to buy more vegetables, fruits, and clothing. Production of these goods increased. Peasants eventually became free to move away from estates owned by lords; some were evenable to buy their own land."

    "Although worker population decreased because of the plague, the amountof land and the tools did not change much. Some farm animals died when thepeople who took care of them died. Because the remaining workers had moretools and land to work, they became more productive, producing more goodsand services. When workers are more productive, employers are willing to payhigher wages."

    http://msh.councilforeconed.org/docu...-lesson-15.pdf

    Another difference is perhaps in the scale of the dying. According to the above article 20 million people died in that particular plague event. I don't know if the authors of the article in the OP are correct about the numbers who died in the Americas, but I do know that the death toll in Europe from the Black Death was 1/4 to 1/3 of the population, and every analysis I've every seen shows in some areas of the Americas a 90% death toll, which is a holocaust. I think we're talking about events of very different scope.


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    This paper apart. Do anybody knows a study or a number, why Africans and Aboriginal Australians didn't suffer from the same epidemics brought by Europeans in the Americas?

    Also, holy crap 60 millions that's a very big number. They are clearly saying 60 millions as a pre-columbian numbers, do they have datas for very big settlements in pre-columbian americas? Mexico-Tenochtitlan probably didn't have more than 1 million of peoples, what other big metropolis was there?

    This would have 60 millions of people? https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...a_1000_BCE.png

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfalp View Post
    This paper apart. Do anybody knows a study or a number, why Africans and Aboriginal Australians didn't suffer from the same epidemics brought by Europeans in the Americas?

    Also, holy crap 60 millions that's a very big number. They are clearly saying 60 millions as a pre-columbian numbers, do they have datas for very big settlements in pre-columbian americas? Mexico-Tenochtitlan probably didn't have more than 1 million of peoples, what other big metropolis was there?

    This would have 60 millions of people? https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...a_1000_BCE.png
    Africans didn't because they had many instances of contact with Eurasians (and actually even direct colonization) since the Paleolithic (if North Africa is considered, but surely some contact with Subsaharan Africa happened, especially during the Green Sahara period) and until the early modern era. Africans also had had contact with many animal domesticates. East Africa had regular contact with Arabs, Persians, even Indians, and Austronesians settled Madagascar and also had some contact with the coast. Most diseases from Eurasia had surely reached many if not even most parts of Africa by the time Europeans arrived in larger numbers.

    As for Australian Aboriginals, they did have massive death tolls due to Eurasian diseases. Their death toll is also estimated at roughly 80-90% of the total as in the Americas AFAIK.

    I think it is quite likely that the Americas had at least 50 to 60 million people. Brazil's population alone was estimated at roughly 3 to 5 million (I think 4 million is fair enough). It may look like a lot of people, but the Americas are second only to Eurasia in terms of total area. 60 million people would be 1.4 inhabitant per sq. kilometer on average. Not a very unlikely density for a continent inhabited mostly by farmers with some very productive crops and quite efficient agriculture in their most populated areas (Mesoamerica and Andes) even for late medieval standards. The estimated world population in 1500 was around 450 million people for 135 million sq. km. of land (all land minus Antarctica), therefore the average world density was around 3.3, more than double the rate of the Americas. The population must've been much more concentrated in the eastern strip from Central Mexico to the Bolivian highlands.

    Btw, the map is clearly about the early expansion of civilization and agriculture in the Americas, not how it was in 1492 when Columbus arrived. It must portray the Americas some 2000-2500 years fore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by matty74 View Post
    The Native Americans weren’t really a culture that had large amounts of land set aside for agriculture or pasture.
    Hmm, I'm not so sure about that especially in the more civilized areas. It is hard for me to be lieve that a continental population that domesticated and cultivated maize, potato, manioc, squash, tomato, pumpkin, avocado, cocoa, cotton, pineapple and several other crops wouldn't have had a lot of cultivated fields in its more densely populated areas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    if the depopulated areas become populated again soon preventing forest regrowth, it won't have an effect on CO2
    Wasn't it often estimated that Europe only rebounded to its early 1300s numbers by the mid-late 16th century?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Africans didn't because they had many instances of contact with Eurasians (and actually even direct colonization) since the Paleolithic (if North Africa is considered, but surely some contact with Subsaharan Africa happened, especially during the Green Sahara period) and until the early modern era. Africans also had had contact with many animal domesticates. East Africa had regular contact with Arabs, Persians, even Indians, and Austronesians settled Madagascar and also had some contact with the coast. Most diseases from Eurasia had surely reached many if not even most parts of Africa by the time Europeans arrived in larger numbers.
    As for Australian Aboriginals, they did have massive death tolls due to Eurasian diseases. Their death toll is also estimated at roughly 80-90% of the total as in the Americas AFAIK.
    I think it is quite likely that the Americas had at least 50 to 60 million people. Brazil's population alone was estimated at roughly 3 to 5 million (I think 4 million is fair enough). It may look like a lot of people, but the Americas are second only to Eurasia in terms of total area. 60 million people would be 1.4 inhabitant per sq. kilometer on average. Not a very unlikely density for a continent inhabited mostly by farmers with some very productive crops and quite efficient agriculture in their most populated areas (Mesoamerica and Andes) even for late medieval standards. The estimated world population in 1500 was around 450 million people for 135 million sq. km. of land (all land minus Antarctica), therefore the average world density was around 3.3, more than double the rate of the Americas. The population must've been much more concentrated in the eastern strip from Central Mexico to the Bolivian highlands.
    Btw, the map is clearly about the early expansion of civilization and agriculture in the Americas, not how it was in 1492 when Columbus arrived. It must portray the Americas some 2000-2500 years fore.
    Do you know how long the great dying in America lasted?
    I guess it started in 1492.
    Allthough Icelandic Vikings were in L'Anse-aux-Meadows ca AD 1000. What happened there?

    As for Australian aboriginees, wouldn't they indirect, via Papuans have been in contact with Chinese rice farmers since 4 ka?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Wasn't it often estimated that Europe only rebounded to its early 1300s numbers by the mid-late 16th century?
    check what Angela commented above about the Medieval plague

    and for the Justinian plague, it looks like the Slavs filled the gap

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    did black death cause reforestation of agricultural land or pastures?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Hmm, I'm not so sure about that especially in the more civilized areas. It is hard for me to be lieve that a continental population that domesticated and cultivated maize, potato, manioc, squash, tomato, pumpkin, avocado, cocoa, cotton, pineapple and several other crops wouldn't have had a lot of cultivated fields in its more densely populated areas.
    It would have been more true in South and Central America vs North America.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    Do you know how long the great dying in America lasted?
    I guess it started in 1492.
    Allthough Icelandic Vikings were in L'Anse-aux-Meadows ca AD 1000. What happened there?

    As for Australian aboriginees, wouldn't they indirect, via Papuans have been in contact with Chinese rice farmers since 4 ka?
    I'm not sure if Australian aborigenes had any non-rare contact with Papuans, especially those living in the very distant and more populated southeast of the huge island.

    Do you think the impact and reach of epidemics would've been the same on a continental scale if the contacts with Old World people had been only of the very sporadic (and in the case of the Vikings quite temporary) kind that happened before the Columbian exchange? I find it doubtful. In the case of the Vikings in the Americas, they also happened to settle in a very remote island in one of the least populated parts of the continent. That certainly had much lesser impact than if the contacts had happened in Mexico or in Peru and had taken longer. Any epidemics, especially those that are particularly more virulent (with a fast "life-and-death cycle) need a certain level of concentration of carriers of the disease to spread signficantly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    I'm not sure if Australian aborigenes had any non-rare contact with Papuans, especially those living in the very distant and more populated southeast of the huge island.

    Do you think the impact and reach of epidemics would've been the same on a continental scale if the contacts with Old World people had been only of the very sporadic (and in the case of the Vikings quite temporary) kind that happened before the Columbian exchange? I find it doubtful. In the case of the Vikings in the Americas, they also happened to settle in a very remote island in one of the least populated parts of the continent. That certainly had much lesser impact than if the contacts had happened in Mexico or in Peru and had taken longer. Any epidemics, especially those that are particularly more virulent (with a fast "life-and-death cycle) need a certain level of concentration of carriers of the disease to spread signficantly.
    In Australia, we know about the Torres Islanders who had contacts with rice farmers and were trading with both the Papuans and the Aboriginees.
    There was the spread of a new language over large parts of Australia, and there was the spread of the dog, the Dingo.
    It seems there were contacts with people from southern Celebes.

    For America, the first contacts were in the Caraïbean and in south and central America.
    How did the diseases spread to North America.
    When the French and the British settled on the eastcoast, where the Natives allready immune?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Africans didn't because they had many instances of contact with Eurasians (and actually even direct colonization) since the Paleolithic (if North Africa is considered, but surely some contact with Subsaharan Africa happened, especially during the Green Sahara period) and until the early modern era. Africans also had had contact with many animal domesticates. East Africa had regular contact with Arabs, Persians, even Indians, and Austronesians settled Madagascar and also had some contact with the coast. Most diseases from Eurasia had surely reached many if not even most parts of Africa by the time Europeans arrived in larger numbers.

    As for Australian Aboriginals, they did have massive death tolls due to Eurasian diseases. Their death toll is also estimated at roughly 80-90% of the total as in the Americas AFAIK.

    I think it is quite likely that the Americas had at least 50 to 60 million people. Brazil's population alone was estimated at roughly 3 to 5 million (I think 4 million is fair enough). It may look like a lot of people, but the Americas are second only to Eurasia in terms of total area. 60 million people would be 1.4 inhabitant per sq. kilometer on average. Not a very unlikely density for a continent inhabited mostly by farmers with some very productive crops and quite efficient agriculture in their most populated areas (Mesoamerica and Andes) even for late medieval standards. The estimated world population in 1500 was around 450 million people for 135 million sq. km. of land (all land minus Antarctica), therefore the average world density was around 3.3, more than double the rate of the Americas. The population must've been much more concentrated in the eastern strip from Central Mexico to the Bolivian highlands.

    Btw, the map is clearly about the early expansion of civilization and agriculture in the Americas, not how it was in 1492 when Columbus arrived. It must portray the Americas some 2000-2500 years fore.
    The map says 1000 BCE, but looking at the fact that it citing Olmecs, you are probably right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    In Australia, we know about the Torres Islanders who had contacts with rice farmers and were trading with both the Papuans and the Aboriginees.
    There was the spread of a new language over large parts of Australia, and there was the spread of the dog, the Dingo.
    It seems there were contacts with people from southern Celebes.

    For America, the first contacts were in the Caraïbean and in south and central America.
    How did the diseases spread to North America.
    When the French and the British settled on the eastcoast, where the Natives allready immune?
    As for Australia, I'm not sure how much contact they in Australia proper had with the Asians (directly probably none, but indirectly via the Papuans and Torres Islanders, okay). I'll just assume that they didn't have that frequent a contact with people who already (or still) carried the viruses and bacteria of the Old World, otherwise the documented high death tolls due to European diseases probably wouldn't have been as dramatic if they had been exposed gradually and multiple times to the Eurasian diseases. Maybe the contacts were not frequent enough, the land was not populated enough, the settlements not integrated enough etc. to allow for an earlier and widespread dissemination of the main viruses and bacteria and therefore the acquisition of immunity by the aboriginals. The fact is that the post-coloniai population seems to have dwindled way too fast for it to have been just because of displacement and genocidal slaughters by the white settlers (IMHO).

    Apparently they weren't. Even in the 19th century when the West was invaded and settled much more decisively by the non-natives many tribes seem to have suffered massive death tolls. In the 20th century the settlement of previously uncontacted parts of the Amazon led to many Amerindian tribes dying like flies because of Old World diseases (or maybe new strains of diseases to which they had been exposed only centuries earlier). I believe the epidemics often died out on their own in the Americas because they killed most of the hosts too rapidly (such epidemics tend to self-contain), the population density became increasingly lower with more sparse settlements (therefore making the dispersal of, diseases neere a certain concentration of people with the disease to really become a true epidemics), and the American societies were not that interconnected to begin with. Hence, the diseases did not spread as fast and easily as some people think, in many places they arrived even before the Europeans came in, but in others it's possible that they were not exposed to all of the diseases brought by them until much later. The Americas seem to have been highly structured genetically and linguistically, so I doubt the contacts with very far and wide populations were intensive enough to cause a uniform spread of the pandemics throughout the continent at roughly the same time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    did black death cause reforestation of agricultural land or pastures?
    Yes. https://www.researchgate.net/publica...ric_CO2_levels
    "I think Marija's 'kurgan hypothesis' has been magnificently vindicated by recent work." --Lord Colin Renfrew, 4/18/2018.

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