Genghis Khan was the most feared invader in history. His Mongol armies killed over 40 million people and wiped out entire civilizations. Yet, the Guardian newspaper says the bloodthirsty ruler was good for planet earth.
The Mongol invasion lasted a century and a half and it created an empire, which covered a quarter of the globe. During the 13th century Genghis attacked many populated areas. While Genghis left a lot of dead bodies, he didn’t leave a carbon footprint. In fact, he did the opposite. Trees once again grew on the land that was once occupied by the people he killed. The trees became forests. The forests became huge. The trees absorbed carbon dioxide. The environment became greener.
According to one study, Genghis removed over 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere. Which is the same amount of carbon generated on the world’s roads every year.
Researcher Julia Pongratz explained that man-made climate change began long before the industrial era.
She said, “Humans started to influence the environment thousands of years ago. We changed the Earth’s landscapes when we cleared forests for agriculture.”
Genghis Khan’s environmental impact is comparable to other historical events such as the Black Death in Europe, the fall of China’s Ming Dynasty and the conquest of the Americas.
All these events led to massive depopulation and an increase in forests, but none compared with the huge decrease in carbon during the period of the Mongol empire.
Environmentalists argue Genghis is the only historical figure responsible for manmade global cooling. You could say the ‘great invader’ was an unwitting agent of nature.
The Mongol invasion only decreased global carbon dioxide by a fraction. Yet it still is the most significant reduction recorded in history. The irony is, there was no significant environmental damage caused by carbon in Genghis’s time.
It may sound callous to say every cloud has a silver lining, but there were unintended benefits to depopulation. The needs of man and the needs of nature are not always the same thing. A balance must be found if we are to live in harmony.