In school you may have read about the “Little Ice Age” that occurred in Medieval times and caused very cold temperatures in Europe. Now a group of scientists at University College in London England are advancing a theory that it was not volcanic activity or cyclical decreases in solar radiation that caused this cooling, but the impact of European colonization of America.
Researchers estimated from population data that 60 million people were living in the Americas at the end of the 15th century, representing a tenth of the world population. Within one hundred years of first European contact, that population “was ravaged by introduced disease (smallpox, measles, etc), warfare, slavery and societal collapse.”
First Nations were devastated, with an estimate of five to six million people remaining after the first century post European contact. Such a calamitous reduction in civilizations meant that land that was cultivated by First Nations was abandoned, and “repossessed” by the forest and bushland. The size of that cultivated land reclaimed by nature is estimated to have been 56 million hectares, “close in size to a modern country like France”. Read more »