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Genghis Khan: history's greenest conqueror?
January 24, 2011 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Previously on metafilter, it was suggested that opinions on Genghis Khan might sway with political sentiment. Well apparently he's now being hailed by some as history's greenest conqueror. Discuss.
posted by Stagger Lee (45 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Always look on the bright side of mass death.
posted by kmz at 12:45 PM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


It turns out horses burn much less jet fuel than an M1 Abrams tank.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:45 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jonathan Swift: Ireland's most modest gourmand?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:47 PM on January 24, 2011 [16 favorites]


See also: the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

War is bad for children and other living things.
posted by vorfeed at 12:49 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]




Jonathan Swift: Ireland's most modest gourmand?


Quite unfortunately I don't think the author intended her work as satire.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


His practice of routinely slaughtering the entire civilian populations of any cities that dared to hold out against his forces would have relieved a lot of population stress on the environment.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It turns out horses burn much less jet fuel than an M1 Abrams tank.

I see that you are yet unaware of the growing and creative horse-modding community.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:57 PM on January 24, 2011


So after seeing this Kate Beaton comic I was inspired to waste about an hour or so reading about ol' Genghis, but somehow didn't trip across the fact that his body count was 40 million. 40 million! Damn! You normally have to look to the 20th century if you want to find that amount of killing...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:00 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


"We found that during the short events...the forest re-growth wasn't enough to overcome the emissions from decaying material in the soil," explained Pongratz. "But during the longer-lasting ones like the Mongol invasion... there was enough time for the forests to re-grow and absorb significant amounts of carbon." ... "Based on the knowledge we have gained from the past, we are now in a position to make land-use decisions that will diminish our impact on climate and the carbon cycle."

Yeah, everybody dropping dead long enough for tree regrowth to occur is certainly one way to go green. By this logic, The Walking Dead is the greenest show on TV right now. But good luck persuading anybody to deliberately clear large swaths of already-owned and cultivated land and leave it alone for a couple hundred years.
posted by Gator at 1:06 PM on January 24, 2011


Not only was he the greenest conquerer in history, he also may have the most living direct-line male descendants in the world. Can your efforts at recycling help you spread your genes as much as Khan's resource redistribution did?
posted by infinitewindow at 1:07 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can your efforts at recycling help you spread your genes as much as Khan's resource redistribution did?

I hope so, or masturbating into this empty Mr Pibb can is going to feel rather pointless.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:11 PM on January 24, 2011 [19 favorites]


so who's in for some good old imperial slashing and burning?
posted by liza at 1:15 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've read that instead of using trees to build a bridge to cross moats, he would just force the local village to the moat and kill them there, using the pile of bodies to partially fill the moat and cross over. GREEN!
posted by hellojed at 1:20 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


so who's in for some good old imperial slashing and burning?

Protip: always remember to pillage then burn.
posted by quin at 1:29 PM on January 24, 2011


Well apparently he's now being hailed by some as history's greenest conqueror. Discuss.

Well, I would say that if you call Genghis Khan a "green" conqueror, you are committing a fundamental methodological error, since back then, no such category even existed. Yes, it may be possible to show that his wars had a positive effect on Earth's climate, but it's not something he did on purpose. Hell, he might have even thought of killing all those people as "giving the land back to mother nature", but even this still doesn't mean he was "green". He had nothing to do with today's environmentalist movement.

It's also interesting how the original study apparently mentions that the conquest of the Americas had a similar effect: "We found that during the short events such as the Black Death and the Ming Dynasty collapse, the forest re-growth wasn't enough to overcome the emissions from decaying material in the soil," explains Pongratz. "But during the longer-lasting ones like the Mongol invasion and the conquest of the Americas there was enough time for the forests to re-grow and absorb significant amounts of carbon." (source) Yet the article I linked to chooses to not pay much attention to it and the one in the OP neglects it altogether. I guess killing millions of Asians is morally less wrong than killing millions of Indians in America.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:32 PM on January 24, 2011


so who's in for some good old imperial slashing and burning?

Well, it's not much of a green mass slaughter if you're going to burn things and put that carbon back into the atmosphere.

What I'm saying is that you want to bury the townspeople alive where possible. Less mess that way, too, with just about as many screams of pain and torment.
posted by Copronymus at 1:35 PM on January 24, 2011


so who's in for some good old imperial slashing and burning?

I know the answer to this one but I'm gonna let you all keep guessing
posted by Hoopo at 1:38 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess killing millions of Asians is morally less wrong than killing millions of Indians in America.

In fairness, most of the actual killing of the North American Indians was done unwittingly by the transmission of smallpox, and "Smallpox: History's Greenest Disease" is a much worse headline.
posted by Copronymus at 1:39 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, if you mean leaving lots of dead bodies around for fertilizer, then I suppose so.
posted by davismbagpiper at 1:41 PM on January 24, 2011


This just in; removing massive numbers of humans from anthropogenic climate change equation boon for environment!
posted by odinsdream at 1:42 PM on January 24, 2011


Asteroid (89959) 2002 NT7: Solar System's Greenest Planetoid?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 PM on January 24, 2011


So, does that make Adolf Hitler an environmentalist too?
And Stalin?

Pol Pot wasn't repressing his people - he was going green.

I get it now.
posted by Flood at 1:56 PM on January 24, 2011


There's also the knock-on effects of destroying so many Muslim and Chinese cities, and erasing centuries of technological advancement. If those civilizations had been left alone they probably would have had their own industrial revolutions and mechanized early, which would have put countless additional tons of carbon in the air from burning fossil fuels. If the Mongols had the stick-to-it-ive-ness to keep on with the invasion of Europe they probably could have nipped our current environmental problems in the bud, since we'd be something like a 17th century level of technology today.

In all seriousness, though, this sort of thing should be testable. Does the climatic evidence from tree rings and glaciers show a cooling effect in the Mongol era?
posted by Kevin Street at 1:56 PM on January 24, 2011


Bacteria: History's Greenest Conquerors.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:34 PM on January 24, 2011


He's also indirectly responsible for this: "Dschinghis Khan", the West German entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 1979.

The song was remade by Japenese girl group Berryz Kobo in 2008.

Has anybody created earwormy disco songs about Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or Jimmy Carter? I think not.
posted by iviken at 2:43 PM on January 24, 2011


Previously on metafilter, it was suggested that opinions on Genghis Khan abortion trigger words cat declawing might sway with political sentiment.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2011


Somewhere inside a Yurt on the Mongolian Steppes....
------

"According to our projections, Mr. Khan, eradicating the world's books will halt the inevitable increase of greenhouse gas emissions; a danger which we can't afford to ignore."

"Excellent analaysis, Subotai. I really love how you've drawn that bar chart in the ground."

"Thank you, sir."

"The different color sands for the different bars... Beautiful work."

"The sands are eco-friendly too, sir"

"Just how I like them... Well, let's get start then. We're headed to Baghdad."
posted by lemuring at 2:48 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Has anybody created earwormy disco songs about Hitler

I'm sure there's a way to disco up Springtime for Hitler.
posted by Gator at 2:57 PM on January 24, 2011


Well, if you mean leaving lots of dead bodies around for fertilizer, then I suppose so.
So true; we all know blood and bone are acceptable for certified organic farming.
posted by Abiezer at 3:06 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


all kidding aside (and those with the real or fake outrage, please, go comment on the original article with all the morons there), this is an interesting bit of science. I too would like to see some independent verification through tree ring records etc (which go back that far).

On Genghis, I do like this quote: "At one point, Genghis was told by his generals that the sweetest pleasure in life was falconry. "No," the empire builder is said to have replied, "You are mistaken. Man's greatest good fortune is to chase and defeat his enemy, seize his total possessions, leave his married women weeping and wailing, ride his gelding and use the bodies of his women as a nightshirt and support."
posted by wilful at 3:09 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wilful: Pfffft he totally cribbed that from his boy Conan
posted by dismas at 3:22 PM on January 24, 2011


Previously on metafilter, it was suggested that opinions on Genghis Khan might sway with political sentiment. Well apparently he's now being hailed by some as history's greenest conqueror. Discuss.

Well, he did found the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world, so...?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:36 PM on January 24, 2011


Has anybody created earwormy disco songs about Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or Jimmy Carter? I think not.

I can't help but notice that your list conveniently leaves out Napoleon Bonaparte.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:40 PM on January 24, 2011


If those civilizations had been left alone they probably would have had their own industrial revolutions and mechanized early

Perhaps, but for China, the concept of Dao, which in a way downplayed the usefulness of breaking things apart into their individual pieces and examine them to learn about the nature of the world, hence scientific discovery evolved differently there, and the fact Chinese did not care for transparent glass, preferring porcelain, and saw no good use for it other than decorative, hence no invention of the microscope, telescope, discovery of the vacuum, discovery of the elements, just to name a few, were both factors that prevented an industrial revolution in the form that we had in the west. There were certain paths not taken in the course of invention chosen by that prolifically inventive culture.
posted by chambers at 3:42 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


A very good point. But it probably would have ended up the same climate-wise in the end, at least in terms of cabon emitted into the atmosphere. If somebody like the Khwarezmids invented the cotton gin and steam engines first, that would have forced other nations to industrialize as well or fall under their sway. China might have reluctant to adapt (as they were in real history), but they eventually they'd have to change if they wanted to retain economic independence.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:58 PM on January 24, 2011


Has anybody created earwormy disco songs about Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or Jimmy Carter? I think not.

Maybe not disco... but here are a few songs:

Camper Van Beethoven - Joe Stalin's Cadillac
Brian Dewan - Jimmy Carter says YES! (from the guy who brought you the classic 'Fire Fire Fire Fire Wastepaper Basket Fire')
Mel Brooks - Hitler Rap

I hope this goofiness doesn't infringe on the somewhat more academic nature of my previous post.
posted by chambers at 4:11 PM on January 24, 2011


John Man has written a good book on Genghis Khan and another on Kublai Khan.

Very interesting reading for those interested in the Mongol Empire.
posted by bwg at 4:39 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has anybody created earwormy disco songs about Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or Jimmy Carter? I think not.

Come on, RR, he wasn't such a bad guy.
posted by ersatz at 4:45 PM on January 24, 2011


He's history's greatest monster!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:26 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has anybody created earwormy disco songs about Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or Jimmy Carter?

Most people looked at him with terror and with fear,
But to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:40 PM on January 24, 2011


A Bao did a groovy modern versions of 东方红 and 山丹丹开花红艳艳; the latter's based on trad Shaanxi folk tunes with revolutionary lyrics added, including lines that say (roughly) 'Now Chairman Mao is here, the [dark clouds] have cleared.' Definitely catchy - the version linked (watch out, likely starts with an ad) was very popular and I find meself singing it when I'm out on the bike. The former is 'The East is Red', which is obviously a paean to the man. There's been both officially-backed and popular revivals of 'Red Songs' and I've heard a fair few nasty disco versions of other old classics.
posted by Abiezer at 6:10 PM on January 24, 2011


Hear that? Fuck you, Tamerlane.
posted by klangklangston at 10:50 PM on January 24, 2011


He's history's greatest monster!

I think you're thinking of Predator
posted by Greg Nog at 7:54 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know what sounds so ridicules that the libs actually belive people believe this kind of garbage. I have never seen or heard of so much garbage like this in all of my life...you libs really think we beleive that crap don't you. I believe that that you think al gort is a god huh! LOL!
posted by empath at 8:56 AM on January 25, 2011


Has anybody created earwormy disco songs about... Pol Pot

While far from disco, I'd call Holiday in Cambodia earwormy.
posted by Blue Meanie at 9:52 AM on January 25, 2011


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