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El Nino

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eggshaped
160227.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:47 am Reply with quote

I'd be interested to know what you all think of this, I'm sold to be honest, but obviously we don't want to be spreading unsubstantiated theories...

Question: What single phenomenon was to blame for the French Revolution, The Black Death and the fall of the Aztec empire?


Answer: El Nino

El Nino is a global weather phenomenon which is caused fluctuations in surface temperature of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. The effect gets its name from the Spanish for “the child” and refers to the fact that it traditionally is noticed around Christmas time in South America. El Nino was first noticed by Peruvians in the 1800s due to the fall in guano production, El Nino caused falls in fish populations, which led to falls in Sea bird populations, which led to a lack of bird shit.

The last El Nino ended at the beginning of this year and was while being a fairly weak version, it was blamed for Forest Fires in Indonesia which led to 25 million acres of forest land to be lost, the worst drought in Australia for over 100 years and floods in Bolivia which killed 22,500 cattle and 35 people. However the effect, which occurs with varying ferocity every 2-7 years, has also been blamed for a number of social events in history.

The social problems in France were there before the French Revolution, however scientists believe that the revolution would not have occurred without El Nino related crop failures in 1785 and 1788, which occurred in association with very tough winters, wet springs and dry summers.

The phenomenon has also been blamed for the Irish Potato Famine, the Black Death of the 14th century and even the demise of the Aztec empire. An El Niño in 1200 BC could even be blamed for the sudden end of the Hittite empire and for the Trojan Wars.

Description
Wiki

Guano

Indonesia

oz drought

Bolivia flood

French Revolution

potato and black death

Hittite

 
Frederick The Monk
161055.  Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:53 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:

The social problems in France were there before the French Revolution, however scientists believe that the revolution would not have occurred without El Nino related crop failures in 1785 and 1788, which occurred in association with very tough winters, wet springs and dry summers.


That's a bit liike saying historians don't see any future in studying string theory.

 
Frederick The Monk
161059.  Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:01 am Reply with quote

But on a more serious note I doubt any historian would deny that the climate is a contributing factor in the outcome of events but that's a long way from saying it is THE cause of an event. In my humble experience it's only scientists trespassing on the beautiful lawns of history that make such simplistic statements. A great deal of modern history documentary is of the format:

a retired scientist gets interested in an historic event whose origins are obscure
the scientist studies the event
the scientist discovers that the area of science he has spent his life working on happily provides a single, simply solution to the reasons behind this event.
the scientist publishes his results, turning received historical wisdom on its head.

The problem with these stories is that they rarely hold up for long and whislt a commissioning editor might be persuaded that the subject has been reviolutionised, if you look in the literature, it barely makes a ripple.

 
eggshaped
161060.  Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:01 am Reply with quote

Not buying it then Fred? Surely it's not a great leap to believe that weather can have an effect on history?

The severe winters and crop failures are accepted as part of the French Revolution cause aren't they? I think that's what I was taught.

 
eggshaped
161061.  Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:02 am Reply with quote

A cross-post there, sorry.

Maybe I over simplified the question there. Or maybe there's no question there at all.

 
Frederick The Monk
161118.  Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:00 am Reply with quote

It's a tricky one - the problem is there are often many reasons for historical events so selecting one of them and calling it THE reason can be misleading. The Crimean War stared out as a argument between two groups of monks over who got to hold a golden key but it would be ridiculous to say that the war was caused solely by the argument or that banning keys would have prevented it.

 
Gray
161292.  Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:17 pm Reply with quote

Just about everything is contingent on everything else, as far as I could make out at school, which seemed to be a perfect excuse for not studying it - too much to hold in the old noggin.

 

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