Guns, Germs and Carbon: post-Colombian pandemics drive global cooling

Diseases introduced by Europeans after 1492 are now known to have caused massive population declines in the Americas, and the failure of ancient agricultural systems across huge regions, many of which depended on the regular burning of forests. Now, researchers, led by Richard Nevle and Dennis Bird have investigated the climate consequences of this massive decline in agriculture and the […]

China’s rural revolution

China’s explosive economic growth has awed the world, and is now felt in every corner of the Earth. As a result, earth systems are being changed at unprecedented rates, while bringing more people into a modern lifestyle than ever before. While we normally perceive these changes in terms of rapid urbanization and industrialization, China’s ancient rural landscapes are also being […]

Pushing back the Anthropocene at the AGU

The Early Anthropocene Hypothesis holds that human alteration of climate began with forest clearing and rice production more than 6 thousand years ago. Here are my personal impressions of recent work supporting this hypothesis, from last week’s annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco (a conference of 15,000- so big its like Woodstock for Earth scientists). […]