he reign of Genghis Khan may have been one of the greatest in history in terms of the amount of land he had conquered. In history, every nation has its golden age and for Mongolia, it was definitely the 13th century. During this time Genghis Khan planned to take over the world and he almost did by taking almost all of Asia and a good part of Eastern Europe.
In his conquest, he killed over 40 million people and this is quite impressive taking into consideration that during the early 13th century, the world population came to a total of 400 million (estimate by Jean-Noël Biraben, 1980). That means that Genghis lead a campaign that killed 10% of the world’s population at the time and what an effect did it have.
The decrease in population caused a small “Ice Age”
Based on a study that was conducted by Safiyeh Haghani et al. in 2015, the killing of so many people led to lower levels of CO2 being produced which created an unbalance in the ecosystem. This unbalance causes the earth to cool down exponentially from the start of the 14th century.
The study is actually more detailed as the researchers wanted to see what caused this small ice age that occurred during the modern medieval era described by many before as a medieval climatic anomaly. The best way for them to analyze this is to study the glacier that held cells from the era when they supposedly formed after the global cooling event.
The actual temperature during this era dropped by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) on average. This may seem insignificant, but when the whole planet is affected by this it can have severe implications. No one was expecting this cooling event and they did not anticipate how it could affect their crops. China during the Ming dynasty had suffered the most from this as the small ice age provoked erratic harvests for many years that lead to famine.
Birds who would fly at higher altitudes would end up freezing and fall from the sky, the reason why some historians had noted down events of “raining with birds” during different periods within history.
However, the most serious implication was the agricultural crisis that this climate change caused. Social changes occurred where many nations had to change their diets and in some cases even staples of traditional food. Grain was affected badly by this and this was vital because it was the main source of food for livestock.
Global Butterfly effect
A butterfly effect settled in where one crisis would create another and that is how it became so bad. Most of the worlds’ population at the time was made up of peasants that would be given a plot of land to grow crops and livestock. Almost all of them were paying rent for the land and their only way of surviving was by growing and selling enough crops to keep a roof over their head.
With an agricultural crisis that also messed with the food source for livestock, many didn’t afford to pay the rent, causing a global economical event by increasing the price of most food products. This was eventually fixed with time and by landlords lowering rent prices in order to cope with the crisis, but it took years for people to see this change occur. By that time, more people died from hunger.
Based on another study conducted in 2010 that looked into the change of the global population from 10,000 BC to AD 2000, we see some interesting statistics. Based on this Hyde 3.1 study, the world population at the beginning of the 14th century (the year 1301) was if 392 million. This was 100 years since the reign of Genghis. 100 years later in 1400, the global population was 390 million, 2 million less than 100 years prior.
What this shows is the escalated effects of this climate change. You would expect that between 1300 and 1400 the world would start exponentially repopulation after the Mongolian conquest, but this ice age affected the world so much that it actually brought the global population lower.
An answer to Global Warming?
Could potentially killing millions of people be the answer to our current crisis? Based on the pessimistic view of some philosophers it could be an answer. The ugly truth in history is that wars actually helped balance our world by stabilizing the population. Yes this is cruel and we are not in those sorts of times, plus violence is not the answer.
It is just interesting to see how a small change in our climate affected the world so majorly. I sort of understand why every fiction apocalyptic scenario presents the world as frozen. Most of the world’s population would be killed, causing a major drop in the production of CO2 leading to a “man-made” ice age just like the one Genghis had created.