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Perspective: Genghis Khan and global cooling

Genghis Khan portrait painted on a Mongolian hillside
public domain
Genghis Khan portrait painted on a Mongolian hillside

Genghis Khan did his work 800 years ago. He is the greatest warrior in history. Though credited with some good things, such as religious freedom and the art of diplomacy, he conquered lands the size of Africa and his soldiers killed so many people they equal the size of the Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles metros combined.

He depopulated so much land that giant forests grew up and scrubbed carbon from the atmosphere. The Carnegie Institution found that this led to a massive and harmful global cooling,

In 1956, John Wayne played Khan in a movie shot in the Utah desert, downwind from nuclear testing sites. Nearly half the film crew developed cancer. The cause and effect link is controversial. But both Genghis Khan and the legendary star who played him remind us that when we ignore or foul the atmosphere, the environment has a way of noticing and isn’t amused. The environment has a mindset of its own.

This is Tom McBride; that's my Perspective.

Tom McBride is co-author of the annual Beloit College Mindset List. He is a specialist in Shakespeare. For 42 years he taught at Beloit, where he won an award for excellence in teaching. He also coordinated the Mackey Distinguished Writers' Program and the First Year Initiatives Program.