Sunday, June 28, 2015

Raymond H. Wheeler's 100 Year Cycle of Climate Change, Regime Change and War

"The turning points between old and new civilizations
occur when cold-dry times reach their maximum severity."
In the 1940s, while at the University of Kansas, Professor Raymond Holder Wheeler engaged in an immense project: He summarized all of recorded history. He compiled 2,500 years of records from which he derived many brilliant hypotheses. At one time he employed as many as 200 scientists. He concluded that climate and human history were intimately related. He discovered many related cycles but declared the most important one was the 100 Year Cycle.

The climate of the earth shifts from warmer to colder periods and back again, frequently in rhythms. Throughout history, there has been a sequence of  four seasons on many diverse time periods, including  1,000 Years, 500 Years, 100 Years, 10 Years, 1 Year and likely others. The Earth’s coldest periods were usually followed by excessive warmth. Such was the case when temperatures moved from the Medieval Warm Period between 900 and 1300 A.D. to the sudden ‘Little Ice Age’ which peaked in the 17th Century. Since 2,500 B.C. there have been at least 78 major climate changes worldwide, including two major changes in just the past 40 years. History shows that nations are usually built on shifts from cold periods to warm, when the human energy level temporarily reaches a maximum, while nations crumble on the shift from warm to cold. International wars occur mostly during warm periods, civil wars during cold ones. Each phase, warm and cold, begins wet and ends dry. Cold droughts and centers of civil war epochs generally coincide. A major cold drought and civil war period occurs about every 510 years; generally less severe ones every 170 years (171 Year Neptune-Uranus Cycle). There are also shorter rhythms: The generally warmer period at the beginning of the 20th century ended during World War II. Totalitarianism is typical of late-half warm periods; democracy is revived during cold times.

Raymond H. Wheeler (1943): The Effect of Climate on Human Behavior in History. In: Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, Vol. 46.

Wheeler’s cycle averages 100 years, although it may run as short as seventy years and as long as 120 years. The cycle is divided into four phases, also not precisely equal in duration, but in general, the cycle has a warm and a cold phase, with each of these having a wet and a dry period (18.6 Lunar Nodal Cycle): 

(1) The Cold-Dry Period (early 1870s to early 1900s and early 1960s to late 1970s): This is a time of general individualism, with weak governments, migrations, and other mob actions such as race riots. Class struggles and civil wars ranging from palace intrigues to revolutions occur during the general anarchy of the cold-dry period. People are cosmopolitan, borrowing culture and living by superficial and skeptical philosophies. As this phase nears an end and fades into the next phase, leadership emerges and societies become stabilized; new governments develop and nationalistic spirit revives. Wars take the form of expansion and imperialism. In the transition from the cold to the warm era, human energies operate at a high level (just as in the spring of the year). Learning is revived, genius appears, industrial revolutions occur, crops are good, and times are prosperous.

Temperature fluctuations over the past 20,000 years showing the abrupt cooling and
warming events during the Younger Dryas. The late Pleistocene cold glacial climate
that built immense ice sheets terminated suddenly about 14,500 years ago, causing
glaciers to melt dramatically. About 12,800 years ago, after about 2,000 years of
fluctuating climate, temperatures plunged suddenly and remained cool for 1,300 years.
The mammoths disappeared at about the same time, as did some Native American and
Siberian cultures that thrived on hunting them. About 11,500 years ago, the climate again
warmed suddenly; the Younger Dryas ended and the Holocene Interglacial Period began.
Soils developed, agriculture and permanent settlements became possible due to relatively
high temperature levels during the past 10,000 years.Large parts of Northern Africa
began to dry up and convert into desert during the Egyptian Warm Period 3,300 years ago.
Animals and humans moved to the Mediterranean, the Nile Valley and the Sahel (arabic for
'shore'), the southern edge of the Sahara desert.
(2) The Warm-Wet Period (early 1900s to early 1920s and late 1970s to late 1990s): This period sees the climax of the trends started in the previous transition, with achievement becoming organized, and the emphasis put on cooperation and integration of views and effort rather than individual accomplishment. Interest in the state rather than the individual develops and governments become more rigid and centralized. 

(3) The Warm-Dry Period (early 1920s to mid 1940s and late 1990s to early 2020s): As climate changes from a general warm-wet phase to warm-dry phase, the rigid governments of the previous period become despotic, police states emerge, personal freedom declines, behavior-patterns are introverted. In art, surrealistic, impressionistic and nihilistic patterns develop, and in business, aggressiveness and self-confidence decline with subsequent depressions and the collapse of economic systems. During the transition to the next cold period wars reflect the culmination of the decadence of the previous period and become the cruelest type of struggle with entire populations slaughtered or enslaved. However, as the temperature falls and rainfall increases, activity increases, crops are again good, and general revival begins.

(4) The Cold-Wet Period (mid 1940s to early 1960s and mid 2020s to late 2040s): This phase sees the reemergence of individualistic philosophy, with decentralizing and reorganizing trends in government and business. It is a period of emancipation and natural behavior; art is straightforward and simple; scholarship follows mechanistic lines. These trends continue and grow until they reach a climax of general anarchy during the cold-dry period to follow. In 1949 Wheeler indicated that the US were passing through a cold-wet period and heading for a Cold-Dry Period.

Within these 20-30 year periods or ‘seasons’, there are smaller ‘seasons’ - in the same sequence that account for variations within each bigger ‘season’. Once this 100 Year Cycle is complete, it blends into a larger cycle. We are currently witnessing the conclusion of a 500 Year Cycle and the breakdown of the global 'Western' hegemony - a period similar to the early 16th century in Europe (491 Year Neptune-Pluto Cycle or 3 Neptune-Uranus Cycles). The early 1500s were characterized by technological innovation, population growth and migration, productive and capitalistic expansion, religious secessionism and wars, regime changes and breakdowns, as well as by the emergence of new empires and global players. Today we are obviously in another warm period that started in the mid 1970s and had reached its peak around 2000. We are headed for various breakdowns of economic, social, political and international regimes. This period will stretch into the mid 2020s and will be followed by an overall social and economic recovery during the following Cold-Wet Transition-Period, likely to end by the middle of the century.