Column: Learning from the 'collapse' of the Mayan civilization

"With drought draped across all of New Mexico and much of the United States to our east and west, it’s an interesting time to think about the prehistoric Mayan city of Chichén Itzá.

Its fate is a reminder that drought isn’t simply something climate does to us. Drought’s effects are defined in large part by how resilient we are in response.

I spent much of last week sorting through squabbles over how to parcel out the last drips of water in the Rio Grande, which has seen less than half its normal flow through Albuquerque this year. Then Friday, I drove up to Santa Fe to sit down with archaeologist Jerry Sabloff to talk about the Maya.

The easy version of the story, bolstered by recent research strengthening our understanding of prehistoric climate, is of the great Mayan civilization of Central America hammered by drought and collapsing 1,200 years ago. As we watch our own society’s struggles with drought, the Mayan history seems like it could be instructive. But we need to start the conversation by acknowledging that drought did not end the Mayan civilization, according to Sabloff."

Get the Story:
John Fleck: Drought Lessons From Chichén Itzá (The Albuquerque Journal 8/28)

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