European colonization of the Americas resulted in the killing of so many native people that it transformed the environment and caused the Earth’s climate to cool down, new research has found.
Settlers killed off huge numbers of people in conflicts and also by spreading disease, which reduced the indigenous population by 90 percent in the century following Christopher Columbus’s initial journey to the Americas and Caribbean in 1492.
This “large-scale depopulation” resulted in vast tracts of agricultural land being left untended, researchers say, allowing the land to become overgrown with trees and other new vegetation.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The regrowth soaked up enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to actually cool the planet, with the average temperature dropping by 0.15 degrees Celsius in the late 1500s and early 1600s, the study by scientists at University College London (UCL) found.
“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,” wrote the UCL team of Alexander Koch, Chris Brierley, Mark Maslin and Simon Lewis.
The drop in temperature during this period is known as the “Little Ice Age,” a time when the River Thames in London would regularly freeze over, snowstorms were common in Portugal and disrupted agriculture caused famines in several European countries.
The UCL researchers found that the European colonization of the Americas indirectly contributed to this colder period by causing the deaths of about 56 million people by 1600. The study attributes the deaths to factors including introduced disease such as smallpox and measles, warfare and societal collapse.
Researchers then calculated how much land indigenous people required and then subsequently fell into disuse, finding that around 55 million hectares, an area roughly equivalent to France, became vacant and was reclaimed by carbon dioxide-absorbing vegetation.
The revegetation of the Americas after European arrival aided declines of global carbon content in the air, dropping by around seven to 10 parts of carbon dioxide for every million molecules of air in the atmosphere (ppm). This compares to the 3ppm of carbon dioxide that humanity is currently adding to the atmosphere every year through the burning of fossil fuels.
1. colonization n.
2. indigenous population phr.
(yuan2 zhu4 min2 ren2 kou3)
3. depopulation n.
(ren2 kou3 jian2 shao3)
4. smallpox n.
天花 (tian1 hua1)
5. societal collapse phr.
(she4 hui4 beng1 kui4)
Taiwan is celebrating the anniversary of the same-sex marriage bill, which officially took effect on May 24 last year. According to Ministry of the Interior statistics, a total of 4,021 same-sex couples had married as of May. Last Friday, the Rainbow Equality Platform released an opinion poll about Taiwanese’s attitude toward same-sex marriage. Among the respondents, 92.8 percent said same-sex marriage does not affect them personally, and 50.1 percent of them said such union does not affect Taiwan’s society. However, 74.1 percent of them said it is acceptable to see straight couples kissing in the street; the figure dropped to 48.2
Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, the creative South Korean showbiz has tried to resume activities in alternative ways. SM Entertainment has been working with Naver’s V Live to launch a series of shows through the K-pop live video streaming service, allowing entertainers to broadcast live on the platform and chat with their fans. For the shows, titled “Beyond Live,” SM has employed “augmented reality” (AR) technology in the background created by real-time augmented 3D graphics, while simultaneously providing interactive communication online. Some fans said that the online shows are more fun than real concerts, because they can chat and interact
Astronomers believe they may have found the first direct evidence of a new planet being born. A dense disc of dust and gas has been spotted surrounding a young star called AB Aurigae, about 520 light years away from Earth. Using the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), located in Chile, the researchers observed a spiral structure with a “twist” near the center, which suggests a new world may be in the process of forming. The swirling disc was one of the telltale signs of the star system being born in the constellation of Auriga, the scientists said.