Genghis Kahn (and reindeer eunuchs)

It’s been a big week for educated speculation about climate influences. As mentioned yesterday, castrating additional reindeer by chewing off their testicles just might be a small but gleaming key to slowing climate change. Now comes word from the Carnegie Institution for Science that “Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes had an impact on the global carbon cycle as big as today’s annual demand for gasoline.”

Carnegie’s wording—in that teaser press release sentence of theirs—may be a bit ill-chosen. The surrounding text explains that the big influence of the hordes was in the opposite direction, albeit of similar magnitude, to that of the current demand for gasoline. They explain it more clearly in a “video press release“, narrated by a man who sometimes sounds a bit bored, sometimes doesn’t, but never, never lets his emotions run away from the well-understood bounds of propriety:

The report itself is published “in the January 20, 2011, online issue of The Holocene“.