Genghis Khan has been branded the greenest invader in history - after his murderous conquests killed so many people that huge swathes of cultivated land returned to forest.
The Mongol leader, who established a vast empire between the 13th and 14th centuries, helped remove nearly 700million tons of carbon from the atmosphere, claims a new study.
The deaths of 40million people meant that large areas of cultivated land grew thick once again with trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
And, although his methods may be difficult for environmentalists to accept, ecologists believe it may be the first ever case of successful manmade global cooling.
‘It's a common misconception that the human impact on climate began with the large-scale burning of coal and oil in the industrial era,’ said Julia Pongratz, who headed the research by the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology.
‘Actually, humans started to influence the environment thousands of years ago by changing the vegetation cover of the Earth's landscapes when we cleared forests for agriculture,’ she told Mongabay.com.
The 700million tons of carbon absorbed as a result of the Mongol empire is about the same produced in a year from the global use of petrol. ...
The Carnegie study measured the carbon impact of a number of historical events that involved a large number of deaths.
Time periods also looked at included the Black Death in Europe, the fall of China's Ming Dynasty and the conquest of the Americas.
All of these events share a widespread return of forests after a period of massive depopulation.
But the bloody Mongol invasion, which lasted a century and a half and led to an empire that spanned 22 per cent of the Earth’s surface, immediately stood out for its longevity.
And this is how Genghis Khan, who repeatedly wiped out entire settlements, was able to scrub more carbon from the atmosphere than any other despot. ...
via Genghis Khan killed so many people that forests grew and carbon levels dropped | Mail Online.