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Columbus, Genocide & Climate Change

European settlers killed 56 million indigenous people over about 100 years in South, Central and North America, causing large swaths of farmland to be abandoned and reforested. The increase in trees and vegetation across an area the size of France resulted in a massive decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Before this study, some scientists had argued the temperature change in the 1600s, called the Little Ice Age, was caused only by natural forces. But by combining archaeological evidence, historical data and analysis of carbon found in Antarctic ice, the UCL researchers showed how the reforestation — directly caused by the Europeans’ arrival — was a key component of the global chill. The depopulation of the Americas may have inadvertently allowed the Europeans to dominate the world. It also allowed for the Industrial Revolution and for Europeans to continue that domination…