Killing Jungles For Farming Kills Civilizations

Civilizations rise and fall depending on many things especially weather conditions, volcanic eruptions, poor financing abilities, foreign invasion by stronger entities, etc.  What is a constant is how they always rise and fall.  Failure comes on the heels of the greatest successes in many cases.  One thing in particular, any shifts in climate from either direction of warmer or colder leads to agricultural difficulties.


One thing is increasingly easy to see: civilizations that destroy jungles create drought conditions that are far worse than say, plains or river civilizations.  That is, Egypt, for example, was flooded like clockwork for thousands of years and so the civilization there was very long and fruitful to an astonishing degree.  But empires built deep in jungles always leads to clearing out the jungles and then turning it into grasslands (corn/wheat/rice, etc.).  This is a total disaster if there is a huge population surge!


Why, may we ask.  Jungles are the world’s lungs.  Cut down the trees and the rains cease.  Here is a news story this week about one of several jungle kingdoms that killed itself due to deforestation:  Classic Maya civilization collapse related to modest rainfall reductions:


The study combines records of past climate changes from stalagmites and shallow lakes to model reductions in summer rainfall and reduced tropical storm activity over the region. The results show rather modest rainfall reductions between times when the classic Maya civilization flourished and its collapse — between AD 800-950. These reductions amount to only 25 to 40 percent in annual rainfall. But they were large enough for evaporation to become dominant over rainfall, and open water availability was rapidly reduced. The data suggest that the main cause was a decrease in summer storm activity.


First off, a 40% reduction is not ‘modest’ in any way, shape or form.  So why did the authors contend this???  A 25% drop is also not ‘modest’.  A 5-10% drop would be ‘modest’.  For example, if a disease killed off 40% of the people, this would be called a ‘great plague’ and a ‘big die-off’ not a ‘modest uptick in deaths’.  So the story here is about a collapse in rain amounts that are severe, not slight.


Furthermore, all of these jungle kingdoms that grew huge and then very suddenly collapsed didn’t create permanent deserts.  They all reverted back to jungles again!  Without exception!  This is a very salient point when we look at today’s world: all the jungles are being systematically destroyed by human farming and timber cutting.  What happens next is very easy to see: it rains less.


Top 10 Civilizations That Mysteriously Disappeared | Top 10 Lists |

One of the first Mesoamerican societies, the Olmec inhabited the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico. The first signs of the Olmec are around 1400 BC in the city of San Lorenzo, the main Olmec settlement which was supported by two other centers, Tenochtitlan and Potrero Nuevo. The Olmec were master builders with each of the major sites containing ceremonial courts, house mounds, large conical pyramids and stone monuments including the colossal head that they are most known for. The Olmec civilization relied heavily on trade, both between different Olmec regions and with other Mesoamerican societies. Because they were one of the earliest and most advanced Mesoamerican cultures at the time, they are often considered the mother culture of many other Mesoamerican cultures.
Where did they go?
Around 400 BC the eastern half of the Olmec’s lands was depopulated- possibly due to environmental changes. They may have also relocated after volcanic activity in the area. Another popular theory is that they were invaded, but no one knows whom the invaders might be.


These were corn farmers and were early users of the new food source.  The Inca farmed terrace areas that had few trees in the first place and grew many tubers such as potatoes and yams.  But the Olmec were corn growers and corn notoriously sucks out the fertility of any ground it grows.


Corn also needs lots of water to grow well.  So farmers have to increase areas being cleared for corn growth as the previous fields fail.  This widens the area around cities which were founded foolishly, locking everyone in one place. Corn farmers in North America, for the most part, lived in bark or earth huts and moved frequently except for the cliff dwellers of New Mexico and Arizona.  These had to be finally abandoned as the corn failed.


Rice farming has the same impact on rain amounts.  Clearing the jungles to grow it leads to a desiccation of the atmosphere which leads to too little water to feed the crops.  This, too, was fixed by either farming in mountainous terrain or moving fields frequently.  But jungle empires built on flatlands grew very fast and very great in less than 200 years and then would suddenly totally collapse due to the desiccation of the atmosphere.


The Khmer Empire grew out of the kingdom of Chenla in what is now Cambodia around the 9th century AD and became one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. The empire is known to most people as the civilization that built Angkor, Cambodia’s capital city. The Khmer were an incredibly powerful and wealthy culture who were open to several belief systems including Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism, which were the empire’s official religions. Their power also included military might as they fought many wars against the Annamese and Chams.


The Egyptian model was totally different.  They didn’t depend on rain on their fields.  They depended on rain falling in central Africa at the headwaters of the Blue and White Nile rivers.  Telling the difference between jungle destruction and farming on open plains is critical: any time any humans destroy the equatorial rain forests, the water that condenses over these jungles no longer does this and the rain stops.


We see this today.  It rains less and less in the equatorial regions and this is nearly entirely the fault of humans systematically reducing the jungles to toothpicks or in the case of Asia, chopsticks.  The loss of shade, for example, dries out the soil.  Gases from peat that is exposed to the sun adds to the CO2 concentration.  If humans cease doing this, the jungles will slowly return in probably less than a few centuries.


The Khmer had very sophisticated canal systems to feed water into the fields and huge cities.  But this failed due to evaporation over the entire region and all the other people living in the near-by climate sector suffered, too.  As always, when we place blame for what is happening in the world, we must look carefully at all the factors.  And the #1 change in the world we see today is the gigantic population explosion going on in what was once ‘jungles’.  In Africa, South America, Southeast Asia and the equatorial islands we see the same thing: masses of humans frantically cutting down jungles.


This destruction is directly connected to the huge population boom going on in these places.  And it doubles in size every other generation.  This is a classic ‘hockey stick’ problem: when doubling anything, it suddenly takes off to infinity and there is nothing to do but terminate it.  The sudden total removal and destruction of jungle societies when they made it too dry is a lesson we have to heed.  The cold north can reduce CO2 production to zero and we will still have ‘global warming’ due to the equatorial regions being stripped of all greenery and shade.

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26 responses to “Killing Jungles For Farming Kills Civilizations

  1. JT

    Off topic but here’s something everyone should do before march 1st.

    “On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google’s other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more. If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future.”

  2. Urban Roman

    And then the “green” “renewable” biofuels business promises to be even more destructive as tracts are bulldozed to plant oil palms or jatropha or some other nasty tropical weed.

  3. DeVaul


    Looks like your warning has been preempted:

    “[UPDATE 2/22/2012] It is important to note that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes.”

    They intend to keep all your information. Period.

  4. DeVaul

    Oh, another update, just to make things even more clear:

    “[UPDATE 2/22/2012]: Note that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. It also does not change the fact that any information gathered and stored by Google could be sought by law enforcement.”

    I wonder if disabling your web history will bring up a red flag and make it easier for the FBI to track people they think are suspicious. The new handouts from the FBI or DHS say people who seek privacy are suspicious and should be reported.

    If I do a google search without “signing in”, will that be recorded in my Google Web History? I never sign in to my account, but use google to search for things. Is that information stored too? Anyone know?

    What a wonderful new world we live in. This is why that teenage geek sold FaceBook (I am sure he sold his shares for cash already). He wanted to be out before Facebook was revealed as a spying tool — which he agreed to, as long as he could get out with a lot of money.

  5. JT


    They store everything based on IP address.
    That link is about stuff that they get if you’re logged in to google while you surf.

  6. please explain to a novice!
    can I delete my ‘history’ and maintain a low profile?

  7. DeVaul

    I only log into Google when I post a comment at Club Orlov. Otherwise, I never use it. I am not worried about my comments at Dmitry’s website.

    I guess it does not matter. I am pretty sure they recorded and saved everything since at least 2000. These spy programs always start years before we even hear a rumor about them.

    I think they are trying to scare Anonymous and their members.

    “can I delete my ‘history’ and maintain a low profile?”

    Not unless you are a computer expert. However, you should delete your “browsing history” on shut-down or restart just so those nearby cannot spy on you. You can do that by going to Internet Tools and clicking on “delete history” and “do not save passwords or cookies to favorite sites”.

  8. Peter

    Lately I find I am skipping over the off-topic comments as they are usually pushing the posters agenda/mindset.
    Comments pertaining to the subject are usually worth reading.
    I am sure i am not the only one wishing for some continuity in the comments

  9. melponeme_k

    I’ve read on some science sites, that the drought that killed the great civilizations in Central and South America lasted upwards of 100 to 200 years. Also that it could have been connected to events such as volcanic eruptions that change global weather patterns.

    It is only recently that scientists have accepted drought as the biggest reason why the huge civilizations collapsed. There is a national geographic special on youtube that showcases the first scientist who came up with the drought theory.

    Most of the cities had huge reservoirs which collected rain. So the rain continued to fall as they were clear cutting jungle to expand. At some point they reached that event horizon moment of one tree too many and the rains stopped for a very, very long time.

  10. melponeme_k

    Another note

    Isn’t it ironic that that our elites have chosen their getaway compounds right smack in the areas where the great civilizations fell due to drought.

    Its hilarious. If the enraged populace doesn’t get them, the lack of water in the near future will.

  11. DeVaul


    Jeez, who peed in your cornflakes?

    This was a relatively minor off-topic subject that only took up a few comments. If you cannot handle that, you might want to skip this blog entirely, as comments can often go off on wild tangents. You can skip over them all you want (like I do), but telling us that is a waste of time (and off-topic).

    If Elaine posts an article on pre-historic man and a full blown war breaks out that afternoon, don’t bother reading the comments section. It will ALL be “off-topic”.

    We will not be censored just to provide you a sense of decorum.

  12. DeVaul, you might like this old Onion news report. “Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village”

    Sorry, but the only active link to it I could find is on YouTube, so they will know you watched it.

  13. Ahh, the Onion. That reminded me of this classic:,464/

    “Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'”

    I read it when it came out. I was a bit naive back then I must admit. I was actually a bit shocked and thought the piece hilarious and accurate. To think this spoof just scratched the surface of the real mendacity of GWB and the elites.

    Tbh, I don’t know why we bother to be upset/shocked/surprised by anything the elites do. They are a murderous, lying and stealing bunch and as things get worse they will only lie more, steal more and murder more.

  14. DeVaul

    Lol… yeah, a remote village sounds about right. Thank goodness for the Onion. One of the few places to give us a laugh in these dark times. Wish I could see the video, but I am Deaf, so I will just have to “imagine” it.

    By the way, sign language is the ultimate form of privacy. No one understands it. I have seen friends discuss illegal matters right in front of policemen, who had no clue as to what was being said. Perhaps one of the few advantages it offers us, besides being able to talk easily through a soundproof door or window.

  15. DeVaul, I remembered that actually, but it didn’t click that the video wouldn’t be much good without the audio.

    Believe it or not, I’m completely blind. So even when I read that you couldn’t see the video I was thinking “What? _I_ can’t see it. But you can!” Then I got it.

    (I do all my internetting with a program that reads the text on the computer screen aloud for me. The internet is a lot more ‘accessible’ than the real world — you might find that too. But if we start discussing it here Peter might go postal on us.)

  16. Plove


    No tracks, no bubbles, and no history.

  17. DeVaul

    Yeah, we need to be careful. Maybe Elaine can provide a link that Peter can click on to enter hyperspace and zoom past our idiot comments to the next on-topic comment, thus sparing him the agony of tangents gone wild.

    By the way, I did not know you were blind. I actually used the text-to-speech function on my PowerBook 540c to help my wife learn English when I was at work. She would type a word in and, presumably, someone fluent in English would speak the word, although I was also worried that it might be a computer voice and she would then copy that weird tone and use it on people we would meet. Still don’t know which way it went.

    Ok, back to the jungles!

  18. There are computer voices that sound quite human, but the problem with them is that they still don’t know what they’re reading, so sometimes they read things with completely wrong expression. I find it jarring to listen to — some text is pretty unemotional, and then it sounds almost right, but then it’ll get to an emotional scene and keep on reading in the same way. Every now and then it sounds like Hannibal Lecter reading love poetry. So I stick with a relatively robotic-sounding computer voice. Better no emotion all the time than completely wrong-sounding emotion half of the time.

    The voices are good for learning foreign languages though, I think. Their pronunciation is technically correct almost all the time. Like learning letters with a printing stencil, maybe; it’s easy enough to add flourishes after you get the basic shapes.

  19. James

    @Steve Murgaski
    You take my breath away


    ELAINE: I agree. I find everyone quite fascinating! Everyone has the most amazing stories. Thank you all for sharing here.

  20. Clueless

    You say there isn’t enough sovereign wealth to bail out the first world banking debt. The opposite is true.

    There more than enough hidden sovereign wealth (wealth of the Sovereigns) to pay off the debt inflicted on the debt slaves, to pay the entire debt. It is about control Elaine.

    But don’t you worry, they will accept your IOU, Elaine. Endless serfdom. That is the plan. Thank you very much for being a part to the party!

    This while they quietly park their hoard wherever they please, whenever they please. There is so much you do not know.

  21. DeVaul

    “Every now and then it sounds like Hannibal Lecter reading love poetry.”

    Oh man…

    That’s terrible! (note to computer voice: exclamation point — inflect voice upward)

    Well, I lost my hearing 25 years ago, so I really don’t know how far they have come with the text-to-speech thing. I thought it was neat, but I had no use for it until I remarried.

    I guess I have my own set of problems. Live captioning produces some really bizarre phrases and words that I am glad my daughter cannot read out loud yet. My favorite thing is when the live captioner realizes he goofed and backspaces to write it again. Meanwhile, the show or person speaking is now a mile ahead of him. I will see two men laughing, and then the joke will be written about two minutes later.

    Better to have pre-recorded captioning all the time than live captioning by a person who cannot spell or keep up even part of the time.

    As for those bunkers down south, Bush’s is right over a major underground aquifer of fresh water in Paraguay. They all have had time to replenish, but soon they will start to deplete them again because of what Elaine said. Even if they make it to their bunkers, they will be trapped there. How much time can you spend in a hot-tub underground before you get bored and want to go somewhere?

  22. Being There

    The worst part of human nature is that we don’t learn from history, but rather get too caught up with the context of our own time and culture. Our economic system is not sustainable, yet we are stuck looking at everything from quarterly gains aspects.

    We have created so much debt around the world, that we can’t get out of that system. The answer could be to pardon the debt, but the banks would rather see more war for profit.

    The energy companies love the bidding up of prices of oil and at the same time refuse to spend money on safety software that would alert them to leaks.

    Our richest billionaires would rather spend money to influence students and the population propaganda that we’re not hurting the environment, rther than to make any adjustments to their profit margins.

    Not a good prognosis is it?

  23. emsnews

    Something people still struggle to understand: there is infinite money. There is zero barriers to infinite money. To fix debts all we have to do is print infinite money.

    Of course, the cost of buying anything will shoot to infinity, too! As we see people defaulting on loans, the banks have to be bailed out and…this is causing inflation! I see it every day when I go shopping.

    This is why PREVENTING LENDING to people who are going to obviously default is so highly important! But it is much more popular to hand out loans to all and sundry. See?

    Loans MUST be paid off or we get that other monster, inflation. Or, if no money is printed to make up for this, we get a banking collapse and a depression which is when money vanishes instead of being more worthless. Some depressions lasted over 500 or even 1,000 years.

    One such depression in Europe was called ‘the Dark Ages’ after all.

  24. larry, dfh

    Desertification is one of mankind’s greatest talents. It’s happening in the Amazon, it happened with the Sahara and Atacama, and the deserts in the Middle East. People think jungle land is fertile, but it is thin and weak. The fertility is in the canopy, and once that is gone, the meager earth literally blows away. Ancient slash-and-burn was local, and less destructive. Massive clear-cutting is a big problem.
    Desertification is very hard to un-do. The Chinese have been trying for decades to re-claim parts of the Gobi, with very labor-intensive planting campaigns; and it has been largely unsuccessful. It appears to be an obvious circular argument: there’s desert because there aren’t enough trees, and because there’s desert, there aren’t any trees. It’s like the situation in the Chesapeake: there aren’t many oysters left because the water is too polluted, because there aren’t enough oysters to clean it.

  25. emsnews

    Good analogy. Yes, the verdant power of jungles is in the canopy which creates the rain which forms over jungles.

    Here in the NE there were virtually no forests 120 years ago. All chopped down. On my mountain, deep in the forest, my son found a Civil War scythe in a tree. I found a scythe sharpening stone inside an oat tree’s roots.

    They farmed everything and this certainly changed the climate here.

    Now, all the farm sare quickly reverting back to forests and forests cover a great deal of upstate NY and Vermont, etc. The human population is falling due to the high cost of fossil fuels.

  26. Elaine, ‘reducing the jungles to toothpicks or in the case of Asia, chopsticks. ‘
    I read that Chopsticks are sent from British Columbia and US to China.

    You did watch the clip here on Japan, how many billions of chopsticks do they throw away?

    Oh, public radio was celebrating US exporting chopsticks to China,
    stupid leftist taxpayer supported public radio.[see article…
    ‘need a job at NPR, it helps to be named Ari Shapiro’ ].

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