Mackinder’s 1904 concept of the “Great Pivot of History” deepens when you add climate change to the big picture. The Mediterranean world and probably the whole world have undergone several great shifts of temperature in the last 3200 years or even longer. Many great civilizations have risen and fallen in accordance with these great temperature changes. The geography of the “Great Pivot” has played a role in this process. When you look at a map of the world, massive mountain ranges separate China and India from the great plains of the “Great Pivot” region of North Central and North West Asia. The “Great Pivot” area is essentially the region of Asian Russia from the thin straight North South strand of the Ural Mountains that divide Europe from Asia to this huge uneven bank of Asian mountains and plateaus running through East Siberia into Tibet and the Himalayas. This great wall separates heavily populated South Asia from less populated North Asia and Siberia. This “Great Pivot” great plains area is a low land area between populated Europe and populated Asia.
Climate Changes Ancient Civilizations
Western civilization starts with Mesopotamia followed by Egypt as the Earth hits a low temperature point around 1200 BC. This first cooling gives Egypt a temperature advantage over Mesopotamia as the ideal temperature zone of humankind moves South. The next great warming takes 1400 years to reach a peak in 200 AD. During this time first Greece and later Rome emerge. Athens, Greece is 8 degrees North of Cairo, Egypt. Greek civilization becomes dominant from 800 BC to 600 BC. Rome, Italy is 4 degrees further North from Athens. So as the warming continues, first Greece reaches its ideal temperature zone then Rome. Rome became a republic in defeated Carthage in 146 BC becoming an empire in 27 AD until its peak in 117 AD. Suddenly the Earth cools after 200 AD reaching a coldest year about 450 AD and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire is 476 AD. This is probably due to the temperature change forcing a domino effect on many barbaric tribes starting out of the “Great Pivot” and eventually (several tribes later) seeking warmer grounds like the Mediterranean Sea area occupied by the Roman Empire. If your look at a topographic map of Eurasia, the mountains wall off the Far East at an angle and drive populations retreating from the cold towards the Southwest area around Rome. Except for the brief period of Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), Greece faces somewhat developed cultures to its East and is limited in its expansion possibilities. Rome has more ideal positioning in the center of the Mediterranean world and expands to fill that void and become a great and lasting empire, thanks to its geography. Rome is centrally located in the Italian peninsula with weak rivals, unlike the Sparta Athens rivalry in Greece, hence it more easily moves to dominate its neighborhood in the early years, then wins the Punic wars with Carthage to become an empire.
European Pre-Modern Age
The next great temperature rise peaks around 1000 AD bringing with it the age of the Vikings dominating coastal Northern Europe, as North Europe reaches an ideal temperature zone. The Mongol leader Genghis Khan established the greatest contiguous empire ever by taking over North Eurasia just after his death in 1227 AD, some 200 years after this warming peak. Even Greenland was colonized by Vikings with the warming. The next cooling made Greenland largely uninhabitable and the settlers were last heard from in 1406 AD. That cooling bottoms out about 1580 AD as the ideal temperature zone moves South leading to the world explorations of the Southern European nations of Spain and Portugal. When the current rise began, the ideal temperature zone moved North again. After three decades of great corn growing weather in Britain, around 1750 AD, the leisure that resulted from the agricultural abundance lead to the industrial revolution, as trains brought coal and steel production together. This was about three quarters of the way up to the next upper bound of the 3000-year Mediterranean area temperature cycle of a 16-degree Fahrenheit swing from top to bottom four times from 1200 BC to 1580 AD. This was reported by the Australian journalist James Burke in a Maryland Public TV “Global Warming” two hour broadcast in 1986. This sets the stage for the modern era of the Greenhouse Effect of carbon dioxide warming, which could exceed the expected 4-degree Fahrenheit warming above the Lancashire England 1750 AD temperature. We are now within one or two degrees of the upper bound of this long cycle, with no way of knowing whether we will exceed this range this time. Will the new warming make places like Russia, Canada, and Scandinavia the next group of dominant countries? Only time will tell. The scale of current events are epic, on the scale of the comings and goings of ice ages.
To read a “three times as long” detailed account of these climate changes:
Please cite this work as follows:
Reuschlein, Robert. (2019, February 19), “Great Pivot Climate History”, Madison, WI: Real Economy Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.expertclick.com/NewsRelease/Great-Pivot-Climate-History,2019177785.aspx
Dr. Peace, Professor Robert Reuschlein, Real Economy Institute,
Nominated Vetted 2016 (2 Web Looks), Given Odds 2017 (3 Web Looks), Strongly Considered 2018 (48 Web Looks, one million words) Nobel Peace Prize, a favorite in 2019 (pace well ahead of last year) for Nobel Peace Prize to be announced Friday October 4th, 2019.