Climate change...120,000 years ago

Hey all you greeny environmentalists worried about people made climate change and  saving our delicate planet.  Relax!  It is natural, it has been happening since time immemorial.  For a vivid example, consider the unique salty Dead Sea.  The BBC News reports on some discoveries after  scientists drilled in the Dead Sea, separating Israel and Jordan, the lowest point on earth. 

Sediments drilled from beneath the Dead Sea reveal that this most remarkable of water bodies all but disappeared 120,000 years ago.

It is a discovery of high concern say scientists because it demonstrates just how dry the Middle East can become during Earth's warm phases.

In such ancient times, few if any humans were living around the Dead Sea. 


Steve Goldstein, a geochemist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, US.

"But we now know that in a previous warm period, the water that people are using today and are relying upon stopped flowing all by itself. That has important implications for people today because global climate models are predicting that this region in particular is going to become more arid in the future," 


The Dead Sea is an extraordinary place. The surface of the inland waterway sits at the lowest land point on the planet, more than 400m below sea level.  

Its hyper-salty waters descend in places a further 300m. And below the lake bed is layer upon layer of sediments that record the Dead Sea's history and the climate conditions that have prevailed in the region over hundreds of thousands of years. 


Prof Zvi Ben-Avraham, of the Minerva Dead Sea Research Centre, Tel Aviv University, added: "The drilling actually... it gives us perspective. Look what went on in 200,000 years; look how the area can be dry and look at the way it can be recovered. We have to get ready for the future."

Past research has shown very clearly how the size of the Dead Sea has fluctuated with the coming and going of ice ages.


During the interglacials (warm periods), the lake shrank; and during glacials (cold phases), the lake grew. And it was in the midst of the last ice age some 25,000 years ago that the Dead Sea reached its maximum extent, with the then water surface standing an astonishing 260m above where it is today.

Jordan, Israel and Syria are diverting the fresh water from the Jordan River flowing into the Dead Sea for the needs of their population, thus altering the sea's chemical composition. Combined with natural climate change, the implications are important. 
"Lake dry-down happened 120,000 years ago without any human intervention," said Prof Emi Ito, from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. "We're helping the lake level go down much sooner; and there are political implications of this lake drying down because water is what causes a lot of wars and I'll just leave it at that."
Wars in that region are caused by more than water requirements but they do play an important part.  The wars there and climate change have been going on there since the beginning of time.  The wars are human caused but climate change is not.