A team comprised of geological and environmental science researchers from Stanford University has been studying the impact that early European exploration had on the New World and have found evidence that they say suggests the European cold period from 1500 to 1750, commonly known as the Little Ice Age, was due to the rapid decline in native human populations shortly after early explorers arrived.
Following up on their paper published in 2008, the team has now brought their findings before the Geological Society of America. The researchers say that the population decrease, which came about due to the introduction of previously unknown diseases, led to the rapid reforestation of the Americas. This led to a sudden increase in the amount of carbon dioxide being pulled from the air, which meant the atmosphere wasn’t able to hold as much heat, which led to colder air covering Europe.
The team, led by visiting scholar Richard Nevle, came to this conclusion after analyzing charcoal remnants in soil and lake sediments left behind by early American inhabitants as they burned forests to make room for farmland. They found that starting approximately 500 years ago, the charcoal accumulations came to a virtual standstill, coinciding with the death of native peoples.
Nevle et al then got out their calculators and crunched the numbers. They estimate that for a population of some 40 to 80 million indigenous people, the total amount of deforested land would likely have amounted to something the size of California. And since most estimates suggest that close to 90 percent of the native peoples died or were killed after the Europeans arrived, that meant most of that land returned to forest. That many trees, they say, all of a sudden appearing, almost as if out of nowhere, could have resulted in a loss of some 2 to 17 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air.
This strengthens their case as they stated. It also has other implications:
1. Native Americans did NOT have a relationship different with the environment than Europeans. That myth came about with the Noble Savage nonsense and the fact the forests had recovered. HUmanity has NEVER lived in peace with nature. This just helps confirm other sources.
2. The Industrial Revolution DID end the Little Ice Age.
3. The effect the Maunder Minimum had was probably real, but far reduced.