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Torn Between Creation & Destruction!

Climate Change – often used to refer specifically to anthropogenic climate change or Global Warming – is not a new concept. An international team of scientists recently revealed that human activities had triggered a change in the climate thousands of years ago and destroyed many civilisations! The Indus Valley Civilisation is one of them.
The scientists recently conducted a study – titled Neo-glacial climate anomalies and the Harappan metamorphosis – which suggests that climate change might have triggered the fall of the Indus Valley Civilisation. They categorically mentioned in the study report that strong winter monsoons – characterised by ‘Early Neo-glacial Anomalies’ (ENA) – brought some changes in wind and precipitation patterns across the eastern Northern Hemisphere and tropics between 4,500 and 3,000 years ago, thus, causing the decline of one of the great civilisations.

Lead author and senior geologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (the US) Liviu Giosan recently said that the urban Harappan society had turned into a rural one due to a wetter winter monsoon. As inhabitants had reached the Himalayan plains from a summer flood-deficient river valley, the possible decline in the winter monsoon could have played an important role in the demise of the rural late Harappans.

Giosan and his colleagues made the claim after collecting samples of sediments from the Arabian Sea and also from the continental margin of Pakistan. Later, they reconstructed the Indian winter monsoon for the last 6,000 years, apart from examining undersea fossils and marine DNA. According to the lead author, summer monsoon rains dried up gradually near Harappan cities because of a change in temperatures and weather patterns, making agriculture difficult.

Earlier in 2012, Giosan and his team claimed that floods in the Indus and tributary rivers had become less severe and predictable. Talking to an Indian daily, the American scientist stressed: “That affected the Indus people who depended a lot on inundation agriculture. We also showed that Ghaggar-Hakra, which is the probable course of the Saraswati River, dried at the same time.” He further said that strong winter monsoons and co-ordinated climate reorganisation “may have helped trigger the metamorphosis of the urban Harappan civilisation into a rural society”. It might take place between 3,300 and 3,000 years ago and played an important role in the demise of the rural late Harappans.


Harappan civilisation Mehrgahr culture globular bowl

The study revealed that the “Harappans appear to have invested less effort to control water resources by large-scale canal irrigation near cities, but relied primarily on fluvial inundation for winter crops and additionally on rain for summer crops”. Otherwise, the agricultural Harappan economy displayed a large degree of adaptation to water availability. Scientists are still trying to find out how the survival of late Harappan cultures was possible until 3,200 years ago under a drier climate and less active fluvial network!

Giosan believes that the study will encourage the global community to protect the environment. “The Indus story is important today because it provides us with a vivid example of what climate change could do to people. The Indus people were smart and had ways to cope with climate. They did migrate and adapt, but what did they sacrifice for that?” he asked.
Now, the most important question is: Will humans survive climate change? Scientists are of the opinion that it could be possible, if we manage to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Such a move could eventually reverse some of the most troublesome effects of warming, they believe. Kate Marvel, the Associate Research Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has said that we need to do more in order to head off what could come.
It is obvious that Dales Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, amongst others, might show different facets of this civilisation with élan and educate us all…

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