Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Write New Ending to Boom-Bust Story.(Final)(Editorial)


Climate -- in particular precipitation or lack thereof -- has been the crucial variable in the Southwest's ability to support human society.

The recurring boom-bust story is written in ruins, artifacts and the tree-ring record rippling across a stump: In the wet years, societies are able to flourish to an extent that is unsustainable when the rain refuses to come.

Ancestors of the Anasazi experienced drought -- the trees log a severe one in the 800s AD -- but low numbers and nomadic lifestyle minimized the impact. Three centuries later, the Chaco Canyon Anasazi had something to lose. They had settled down and built cities, roads and trade routes during a long period of more abundant rainfall. …

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