Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Columbus: An Early Discoverer Of A Climate Change Factor

"There was a rain squall every afternoon when Christopher Columbus anchored at Jamaica in 1494. He remarked that the island's lush carpeting of forests caused these rains, for "he knew from experience that formerly this also occurred in the Canary, Madeira, and Azore Islands, but since the removal of forests that once covered those islands, they do not have so much mist and rain as before." Columbus was claiming to see an impact of living creatures on climate — in two senses. In the first place, humans are living creatures, so anything we do is an effect of life. More directly, Columbus thought the climate change was a result of alterations in the forms of life covering the islands, from forest to grassland. Of course a change in climate itself might bring such ecosystem alterations. But nothing altered a region so quickly and dramatically as human civilization."

Note: Today, we now know very well that Columbus was correct. Indeed, even more so than anyone could likely ever have imagined.