By the 1st century BC, Rome was the most advanced and powerful civilisation on Earth and Romans’ material wealth was skyrocketing. Men and women are increasingly less interested in marriage and no-fault divorce is enacted. Birth rates start to decline below the replacement rate. The citizen soldiers are eventually replaced with professional soldiers who expect compensation and are loyal to the military itself, not the state. As the empire expands in a series of wars of choice it is becomes increasingly multicultural thanks to new citizens from conquered territories. Their loyalty is in question but Rome depends on them as mercenaries to defend the declining state. The government and the military industrial complex replace the private sector as the sole entity responsible for everyone’s well-being. There is moral decay and brutality as Julius Caesar brags about killing one million Gauls. This period could be compared our own world since 1970. By the 400s Rome is being pillaged by Visigoths and Vandals, who ensure it never makes it to the 500s.
However there was something else occurring in the 400s that wasn’t happening in the preceding centuries. Although corruption and immorality were rife, the scientific and historical record shows the climate cooled but, more destructively, it became erratic. Long dry conditions were interrupted by intense deluges. Unseasonal spells of cold weather became the norm. Although solar activity records only date back to the 1600s, these conditions were almost certainly the result of a combination of low solar activity and high volcanic activity – much like the post-medieval warm period that saw solar minimums like the so-called Maunder and Dalton and large volcanic eruptions like the Tambora which, combined with the Dalton, created freezing summers. The result during the 400s was rising food prices, which along with the other factors created deep social dissatisfaction as the economy faltered.
There are proposals on the table to turn the Afghani war over to mercenaries and bring out troops home to a land were middle-class citizens are questioning the role of government and wealth disparity created by robotic and AI technology is growing. We are becoming more like the Roman Empire, dropping birth rates, fewer marriages, and more debauchery. Moral decay and fear of the government rampant. But a significant change in the climate, a highly erratic climate of droughts and floods destroyed the food supply and that was the final blow to the Roman Empire. Is this or fate?
Enter the monkey in the wrench. After 200 years of healthy solar maximums, solar activity has been plummeting since 2010 and the first solar minimum will hit bottom around 2021. By the 2030s solar physicists now reckon that a grand solar minimum will consume most of the rest of the century. Volcanic activity has also been on the increase and more is expected as eruptions occur most often during solar cycle peaks or at solar minimums. In previous articles published in this newspaper I chronicled increasingly intense and erratic weather patterns that have coincided with the lower solar activity since 2010. The latest include a cold front that descended on the US Midwest in late June dropping temperatures to near freezing, and recent snowfall 200 kilometres south of Moscow in Tarttarastran. Wheat futures immediately rose 6 per cent. At this time the world takes cheap foodstuffs for granted. A change of this reality in the future could shake the global world order to its foundations.
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