The key issue facing modern society today is how humanity can best adapt to extreme climate change. Perhaps the answer to how it should or should not be done can be found in the past. For example, from the Mayan civilization.
In the scientific study "The Role of Nutrition in Resistance and Sensitivity to Climate Change among Early Mayan Agricultural Communities" published in the journal Current Anthropology, the authors Clare Ebert, Julie Hogarth, Jaime Ave, Brendan Caletton and Douglas Kenneth Explore Ability of the ancient Maya to withstand periods of severe climate change.
The authors found that the growing need for a high-class corn-based diet may have made it more difficult for residents to withstand drought. This, in turn, led to the collapse of this civilization.
"Population growth and environmental degradation caused by the intensification of agricultural production, coupled with socio-conditional nutrition preferences, have made the community less flexible and less resilient," says Claire Ebert.
The scientists came to this conclusion after analyzing the human remains of 50 graves found in an old Mayan community in Belize, as well as in neighboring settlements. Measurement of carbon activity indicates that the oldest bones from these tombs date from between 735 and 400 BC, and the youngest remains between 800 and 850 BC.
The Laboratory for Human Paleoecology and Geochemistry of Isotopes at Pennsylvania State University measured the values of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes from the samples taken. This way the diet of individuals and how it has changed over time has been reconstructed. The scientists paid particular attention to corn.
The result has shown that the persistent insistence of high-class locals to increase corn production, as well as the advantage given to this drought-tolerant crop, are probably among the factors that led to the collapse of the social-political system.