Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's easy to get pushed over when you're already on the edge

By BJ Bjornson

An interesting new study out showing that the collapse of the Maya civilization was accompanied not by a severe drought, but rather a relatively mild constraint on their water supplies.

Now, two Earth scientists have carefully analyzed rock samples from the Yucat� which revealed water levels in local lakes, as well as chemical traces that show likely rainfall over the decades of the collapse. What the scientists found was more evidence that the region suffered from drought during the typically rainy summers � but the drought was fairly mild. There were probably fewer hurricanes in the ocean driving rainstorms to land. In a paper published today in Science, researchers Mart�Medina-Elizalde and Eelco J. Rohling call it "a succession of extended drought periods interrupted by brief recoveries."

Is it really possible that a mild drought, no matter how many centuries it lasted, could really topple an empire? After all, civilizations in Europe have endured everything from plagues to the Little Ice Age, and people did not abandon the cities.

Medina-Elizalde and Rohling suggest:

If these repeated episodes of drier climate had a significant role in the fate of the Classic Maya civilization, as suggested by archaeological evidence, then this would imply that the ecological carrying capacity of the Yucat�Peninsula is highly sensitive to precipitation reductions.

In other words, it's possible that it didn't take much of a drought to usher in a catastrophic series of crop losses or other environmental problems. And these problems, in turn, could foment dramatic social upheavals.

This is important for more than the Yucatan, which may see a repeat of such conditions due to Climate Change, because while we may not be entirely certain what the carrying capacity of the Earth is for humanity, in many cases we are already over-consuming what the planet can produce on a renewable basis, not to mention our drawing down of non-renewable resources. All of which is to say that even a relatively minor disruption could cause massive damage to our civilization as it did the Maya, and at the rate we�re going, the disruption Climate Change is going to cause will be far more than minor.

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