Maya Civilization Changed with the Climate; What's Next For Green Legislation

The New York Times on Maya civilization and climate change, Wired on environmental legislation, TreeHugger on Siemens' The Crystal, Scientific American on the extinction of freshwater fish, The Hollywood Reporter on Matt Damon's documentary.  

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The New York Times on the Mayans' response to climate change The 2012 doomsday theories might be starting to get eerie in light of our recent weather, but scientists are saying that the civilization that those theories are linked to was directly correlated to changes in the weather, Sindya Bhanoo reports. The scientists, whose work is published in the journal Science, found that in the early classic Maya period, when it was "remarkably wet" populations and agriculture grew and leaders rose. As drought came along so did warfare. Bhanoo explains that "the researchers compared the climate record with an existing 'war index' — a log of hostile events based on how often certain keywords occurred in Maya inscriptions on stone monuments."

Wired on the environment in Washington Brandon Keim speculates on what's next for climate change in Washington. He says that while the Democrats' cap-and-trade bill will not be revived, but "there’s a demand for new ideas — and, at least for now, those ideas will be heard." What could be on the table?  Infrastructure improvements and "cutting federal subsidies and insurance for development in sensitive areas" could be possibilities. Federal and/or private investments in clean energy and green technology might also be considered. Keim explains that the energy industry will also be examined "especially as the Environmental Protection Agency begins regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, the largest U.S. source of carbon pollution."

Treehugger on The Crystal Bonnie Alter takes us inside The Crystal funded by Siemens in London. The exhibition, she explains, and "examines 9 different zones; with sections on healthy life, future life, creating cities, water, transport, going electric and urban security." Designed to look like, well, a crystal, the Crystal employs Siemens technology, like "a staircase that captures heat and energy from people flow."

Scientific American on freshwater fish Carrie Madren explains the alarming rates at which freshwater fish—like the wonderfully named (and already gone) phantom shiner, thicktail chub, stumptooth minnow and harelip sucker—are disappearing. By 2050, she writes, their extinction rate could be 877 times higher than normal. Why? "Many of the extinct freshwater fishes lived in the Great Lakes region and most likely died off because settlements and cities built on the lakes contributed to pollution, overfishing and the introduction of nonnative species that outcompeted them," Madren writes.  Freshwater fish are especially "vulnerable because many depend on small, local water bodies."

The Hollywood Reporter on Matt Damon's climate change series Damon is participating in a documentary series for Showtime to be produced by James Cameron and Jerry Weintraub. Alex Ben Block explains that the eight-part series is meant to "the human element of climate change." Damon, an activist, is no stranger to environmental projects. He's starring in a movie he co-wrote about fracking and he narrated PBS' Journey to Planet Earth.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.