One of the greatest baby booms ever to occur in North American history happened between the years 500 and 1300 A.D., says a new study. The boom occurred somewhere in the northern Southwest with the ancient Puebloans.
During that time, scientists believe that birth rates were higher than they ever have been in current years, even despite the world having grow to a whopping 7 billion people.
However, a crash followed this boom, and after only 30 years the Southwest was essentially abandoned. This could be a warning about the dangers of overpopulation, the study suggests.
“They didn’t slow down — birth rates were expanding right up to the depopulation,” said WSU anthropology professor Tim Kohler, co-author of the study. “Why not limit growth? Maybe groups needed to be big to protect their villages and fields.”
Kohler believes that when the population became too big due to lack of population control, it eventually began to starve. That might have lead to people leaving the tribe, and essentially turning the Southwest into a wasteland.
Besides lack of food and water, Kohler thinks that overpopulation can have other adverse side effects, such as the spreading of diseases. This may have also contributed to the Puebloans’ decline, and could eventually lead to our decline if we don’t think about population control more.
More attention should be paid to the mistakes of the past, as Kohler believes that “we can learn lessons from these people” and eventually avoid their mistakes.
The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.