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Last Born In The Wilderness

Patrick Farnsworth

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Last Born In The Wilderness
7 MIN2019 MAR. 8
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This is a segment of episode #177 of the Last Born In The Wilderness “The Great Dying: How The Colonization Of The Americas Cooled The Planet w/ Alexander Koch.” Listen to the full episode: http://bit.ly/LBWkoch

In this segment of my interview with Alexander Koch, lead author of the recently-released paper 'Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492,' we discuss the dramatic global climatological changes that resulted from the “Great Dying" of indigenous populations in the Americas after first contact with Europeans in 1492. As Alexander and his colleagues’ research reveals, the "Great Dying” in the Americas ultimately led to the deaths of up to 90 percent of the indigenous population in North and South America, as a result of subsequent waves of infectious diseases and the genocidal actions of the European invaders. In turn, the widespread decline in population led a "7-10 ppm decrease in atmospheric CO2 between 1550 and 1650,” which "is the largest pre-industrial change in CO2 over the past 2,000 years.” The average surface air temperatures dropped by 0.15C globally, resulting in what has been defined as the coldest period during what has been described as the "Little Ice Age,” which extended from about 1300 to 1850. I ask Alexander to elaborate on the details of this research, in particular how the “Great Dying” directly contributed to a shift in global temperatures and carbon output during that timeframe. 

Alexander Koch is currently pursuing his PhD at University College London (UCL), which includes research combining the fields of climate modeling, historical geography and tropical ecology. Along with his colleagues Chris Brierley, Mark M. Maslin, Simon L. Lewis in the Department of Geography at UCL, Alexander is the co-author of the paper 'Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492,’ the findings of which are discussed in the full episode. 


Read the research yourself: http://bit.ly/2EfRlU7

Read a summary of the research and its implications in The Conversation: http://bit.ly/2U9apds

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