Justifying Genocide as Green

I kid you not

So how did Genghis Khan, one of history's cruelest conquerors, earn such a glowing environmental report card? The reality may be a bit difficult for today's environmentalists to stomach, but Khan did it the same way he built his empire — with a high body count.

Over the course of the century and a half run of the Mongol Empire, about 22 percent of the world's total land area had been conquered and an estimated 40 million people were slaughtered by the horse-driven, bow-wielding hordes. Depopulation over such a large swathe of land meant that countless numbers of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests.

In other words, one effect of Genghis Khan's unrelenting invasion was widespread reforestation, and the re-growth of those forests meant that more carbon could be absorbed from the atmosphere.

Weirdly, the author equates cooling the Earth with "a glowing environmental report card?"  How did cold become green?

In fact, the world did substantially cool in the 14th century.  The previous 300 warm years had brought prosperity and growth to Western Europe, in fact the first population growth in Europe since as early as 300AD.  The commercial and intellectual regression that is often called the Dark Ages or the early Middle Ages (say 700-1000AD) is often attributed to a demographic collapse in Western Europe.  There are many who credit, at least in part, this collapse for the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The years 1000-1300 saw a real recovery, the first population growth for hundreds of years, and a number of important (though to us prosaic) technological, intellectual and societal advances. There are several factors behind this boom, but a large one is the Medieval Warm Period, where we can find records of certain crops (e.g. grapes in England) being grown far north of where they can be even today.

The early 1300's coincided with the return of cold, wet weather to Europe.  Whether this is in part attributable to Genghis Khan's killing rampage, I can't say.  But the effects were clear.  The 1320's and 1330's saw a series of terrible harvests and resulting famines.   By the 1340's, much of Europe was hungry and malnurished, weakening the population for the arrival of some rats carrying Bubonic Plague.  Again, not a few historians have noted that the climate-change-induced famines of the early 1300's likely made the early plagues more virulent.

This world of failed harvests, starving, and plagues -- this is a greener world we should aspire to?

(HT:  A reader)

  • http://www.worldsbestbanners.com Tim

    Wow.. what a strange take on genocide. I hope we don't strive for this kind of green.

  • ADiff

    'Deep Ecology' is deep alright....six feet deep.

  • Dr. T

    "... the re-growth of those forests meant that more carbon could be absorbed from the atmosphere."

    No one with adequate training in ecology would state that forests remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than domestic crops. An acre of fast-growing crops will create more biomass per year than an acre of mature trees, especially in areas with multiple plantings per year (summer and winter wheat, for example). Deciduous trees are dormant for months out of the year and remove almost no CO2 from autumn through early spring.

    Statements like the one cited here verify my theory: most active environmentalists are either Luddites who hate technology or nihilists who hate mankind. Environmentalism is their excuse for restricting technologies or for recommending policies that will eliminate most people from the planet.

  • http://harries@free.fr blokeinfrance

    Trees rings, Dr T?
    But your basic point is sound, I think.
    Given that plants are in competition with each other you'd expect (say) acorn and einkorn seedlings to grow at roughly the same rate. So the forest / cultivation balance is irrelevant if you keep the inputs of sunlight, water and soil the same.
    However, what happens when man enters the picture? You get irrigation (more growth), crop rotation (less soil impoverishment, unlike the effects of conifers) and as you say double cropping, though that's a more recent development. So man actually does more to capture carbon, and Genghis Khan gets a big fat zero for greenery as he breaks the dams and drives out the farmers.
    The oil we burn was once living stuff. We're doing the earth a favour by allowing it to reenter the carbon cycle so we'll have more living stuff.

  • Gil

    The death toll would be even higher if it's true the Mongolians released the Bubonic Plague into Europe and Asia.

  • Vilmos

    I had this feeling for a long time that environmentalism can be the next *ism which kills a really great number or people.

    ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company) for example used to have a "questionnaire" for children where they asked how much "resources" they used, and at the end, they "helpfully" told them at which age they should die so they don't use more than their fair share of resources.

    Also, we got to the point that children are looked at not as a source of pride or future but as pollutants.

    AFAIK, Ted Turner thinks that the world population is 95% too much, or at least it shouldn't be more than one billion.

    The (Gordon) UK government was thinking about the advantages of reducing the UK population to 30 million.

    I am sure most people are familiar with the exploding green video, where people who didn't want to go with the "no pressure" environmental ideas were blown up.

    And the sad thing is that these aforementioned opinions (I can back each up with links) are *NOT* considered extremists. They are just "thoughts".

    I happen to think that Hitler was not that bad on a relative scale. (On an absolute he was absolutely terrible). He didn't happen in a vacuum. At the age when he existed, eugenism was very popular, and many respected people (Churchill, Wilson) subscribed to it. What Hitler did was to simply put these "scientific thoughts" (regardless he cared about the "science" behind it or not) to practice and did it in a particularly disgusting and cruel way. So when we judge the Nazis, we should also consider that at that age, these opinions were *RESPECTABLE*. And shudder.

    Now thinking about children as pollutants is responsible. Also, women who sterilize themselves are thought of as "caring about the environment". This is the age we live now in: when anyone's "value" is decided how much they "pollute" the environment. Ours is such an anti-human age. Killing a large number people is relative. We just have to find the right reasons. As of today, killing because of race is not good. But killing because of the environment is acceptable.

    To understand the mentality behind this thinking, I recommend this good summary.

    Vilmos

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    > There are many who credit, at least in part, this collapse for the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

    I think a sclerotic and ineffective government had a lot more to do with it than that. Fighting against four other, more dynamic groups was the toppling part (Muslims, Vandals and their barbarian ilk, the Huns and their barbarian ilk, and the Western Roman Empire). They were always doomed without a major structural reformation at the hands of one or more governmental geniuses (which, really, has only happened once in recorded history, about 222 years ago)

    > Statements like the one cited here verify my theory: most active environmentalists are either Luddites who hate technology or nihilists who hate mankind. Environmentalism is their excuse for restricting technologies or for recommending policies that will eliminate most people from the planet.

    Not to suggest I even vaguely disagree with your theory, but, esp. in pre-industrial cultures, the forests tend to be cleared by slash-and-burn. I'd have to assume that releases a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere that probably balances is. Further, much of the offal from planting gets burnt, too, producing ash which is then used as fertilizer.

    Me, I just don't think that the neoluddites have a flinkin' clue. I would suggest that there are benefits to more CO2 as well as downchecks. Which one outweighs the other is the issued to be resolved, not this knee-jerk, "man is an evil cancer" sh** that is at the core of their belief system. I will grant that it's pretty self-evident that THEY are an evil cancer at the core of society, however.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    From one of the founders of Greenpeace, via Dr. Sanity -- "Cloaked Agendas and Pure Evil":

    The collapse of world communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s added to the trend toward extremism. The Cold War was over and the peace movement was largely disbanded. The peace movement had been mainly Western-based and anti-American in its leanings. Many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalization than with science or ecology. I remember visiting our Toronto office in 1985 and being surprised at how many of the new recruits were sporting army fatigues and red berets in support of the Sandinistas.