There are so many buzz words associated with the subject of climate change – eco-friendly, sustainable policies, global warming, CO2 emissions, green this and green that – the list goes on and on. Makes it hard sometimes to see the wood from the slash-and-burned trees in our ever-shrinking forests.
Egypt is a country liable to face the full impact of future climate change, say the experts. But do any of the would-be entrepreneurs looking to set up businesses in the country care?
Recent economic development in the country points to opportunities in sustainability. Among them:
- 750 MW of wind power projects projected to come online by 2014
- a new solar thermal plant development with utility scale potential
- blackouts and other power outages nationwide
- 100 MW of new solar power development
The government and people of Egypt should be focused on sustainable economic development, especially if they ever look back over Egypt’s 6,000 years of recorded civilization.
That record not only shows how trade and commerce flourished in an ancient world where even women were allowed to own their own business. But it also reveals how climate change some 4,000 years ago contributed to the collapse of Egypt’s Old Kingdom, the era associated with many of the pyramids we see today.
The evidence for this has been found in pollen and charcoal deposits within deeply buried sediments in Egypt’s Nile Delta. Research into the sediments was carried out by Christopher Bernhardt, a member of the US Geological Survey (USGS), along with Benjamin Horton, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science. Jean-Daniel Stanley at the Smithsonian Institution also participated in the study.
“Humans have a long history of having to deal with climate change. Along with other research, this study geologically reveals that the evolution of societies is sometimes tied to climate variability at all scales – whether decadal or millennial.” –Christopher Bernhardt, US Geological Survey
USGS Director Marcia McNutt said, “Even the mighty builders of the ancient pyramids more than 4,000 years ago fell victim when they were unable to respond to a changing climate. This study illustrates that water availability was the climate-change Achilles Heel then for Egypt, as it may well be now, for a planet topping seven billion thirsty people.”
The researchers wanted to see if changes in pollen assemblages would reflect ancient Egyptian and Middle East droughts recorded in archaeological and historical records. They also examined the presence and amount of charcoal because fire frequency often increases during times of drought, and fires are recorded as charcoal in the geological record. The scientists suspected that the proportion of wetland pollen would decline during times of drought and the amount of charcoal would increase. Their suspicions were proved right.