“History’s Greatest Sea is Dying”… Because Gratuitous Reference to Climate Change

Guest “I schist you not” by David Middleton

History’s Greatest Sea Is Dying
The failure of countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean helps explain the difficulty of carrying out successful climate-change negotiations.

DECEMBER 14, 2019

Most of the world’s seas are in some kind of environmental trouble, but few have declined as quickly or from such precipitous heights as the Mediterranean’s eastern edge. Although it midwifed some of history’s greatest civilizations, the eastern Med has become a grubby embodiment of the current littoral states’ failures. Where the ancients sailed, many of their successors now junk industrial waste. The accomplishments of the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, and pharaonic Egyptians, among others, have only accentuated their descendants’ political and economic rot.


An awful lot is riding on this moment. The Med is warming at one of the fastest paces in the world (up to 0.12 degrees Celsius, or 0.216 Fahrenheit a year, on the surface), and it is choked with plastic. Though the Mediterranean constitutes less than 1 percent of the world’s oceans, it holds 7 percent of its microplastics. The coastal states continue to sully the sea with tons of everything from shipping oil to untreated sewage, meaning there’s scarcely an untarnished ecosystem left. (It’s a similar story on land: Naval bases sit alongside garbage-strewn beaches and coastal dump sites—relatively high military budgets juxtaposed with penniless environment ministries.) For the millions of people who depend on the Med for employment, and the many millions more who treasure it as a “blue lung” in a region of sometimes suffocating heat and claustrophobic cities, the sea’s struggles threaten to become their own.

But there might be an even more important subtext to the eastern Med’s decline. For millennia, those who lived near it thrived off one another, always trading and frequently cooperating from coast to coast, creating some of the greatest civilizations in world history. Yet that was long ago, and the region’s intellectual slump mirrors its environmental decay. Stifled by unilateralism, greed, and chronic short-termism, antiquity’s greatest sea resembles the contemporary world in miniature—and with this year’s United Nations climate talks having concluded in Madrid with little tangible progress, the lessons the eastern Med offers are not particularly hopeful.


Some of the Med’s troubles are due to its unusual topography. Because it has few external outlets, it takes roughly 100 years for a drop of water to exit the sea, so there’s less dilution of toxins, and because some of the strongest currents flow west to east, the eastern Med bears the brunt of the entire littoral’s poor practices. But that’s only part of the story.


Years of economic and political dysfunction have also left a fearsome mark. Mired in varying degrees of financial crisis, parts of North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Levant have made marine protection even less of a priority.


Those might actually be the more resolvable problems. The eastern Med’s deterioration, particularly of late, is also the result of a world that appears more unable than ever to forsake short-term economic gains, even as its environmental woes worsen by the day. Over the past decade, huge hydrocarbon discoveries have sparked a dash for undersea riches, as the likes of Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and Greece have moved to tap their finds. In states’ zeal to extract, conservationists fear spills—with good reason. When a tanker sank near Athens two years ago, ill-equipped authorities struggled to contain it despite perfect conditions and its proximity to the capital, according to WWF’s Ibrahim. Were anything to happen near one of the isolated major fields, the impact could be catastrophic.


Commercial interests might be the Med’s best bet, though not ones of the oil and gas variety. More than 200 million tourists cluster along the sea’s shores every year, and there’s a limit to the amount of trash on the beaches, rashes from poor-quality water, or jellyfish swarms that visitors will tolerate. If, or most likely when, deteriorating conditions start to devastate tourist businesses’ bottom line, the consequences will be severe. The Med economies are too fragile to sustain knockout blows to one of their primary industries. Governments, residents maintain, will have no choice but to act, however they might feel about one another.


PETER SCHWARTZSTEIN is an Athens-based environment journalist, who covers water, food security, and climate-conflict issues across the Middle East and Africa.

The Atlantic

There’s a lot of nonsense to unpack here, just in the passages I quoted.

Athens-based environment journalist:

For millennia, those who lived near it thrived off one another, always trading and frequently cooperating from coast to coast, creating some of the greatest civilizations in world history. Yet that was long ago, and the region’s intellectual slump mirrors its environmental decay.


The Mediterranean, particularly the eastern Mediterranean has been a region of almost constant conflict over territory, resources, culture and religion for pretty well all of recorded history, starting with World War Zero.

World War Zero brought down mystery civilisation of ‘sea people’

HUMANS 12 May 2016
By Colin Barras

The Trojan War was a grander event than even Homer would have us believe. The famous conflict may have been one of the final acts in what one archaeologist has controversially dubbed “World War Zero” – an event he claims brought the eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age world crashing down 3200 years ago.

And the catalyst for the war? A mysterious and arguably powerful civilisation almost entirely overlooked by archaeologists: the Luwians.

By the second millennium BC, civilisation had taken hold throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The Egyptian New Kingdom coexisted with theHittites of central Anatolia and the Mycenaeans of mainland Greece, among others.

In little more than a single generation, they had all collapsed. Was the culprit climate change? Some sort of earthquake storm? Social unrest? Archaeologists can’t seem to agree.

Eberhard Zangger, head of international non-profit, Luwian Studies, based in Zurich, Switzerland, says that’s because one crucial piece of the puzzle is missing. Another powerful civilisation in western Anatolia played a crucial role in the downfall

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2087924-world-war-zero-brought-down-mystery-civilisation-of-sea-people/#ixzz68YaYRmPL

New Scientist
Figure 1. World War Zero (New Scientist)

While World War Zero and the Trojan War itself are examples of speculative history, the Mediterranean has no lack of reasonably documented historical conflicts… Conflicts in which the losers were usually subjugated, if not wiped out of existence.

I built this table from a cursory review of major wars of antiquity in the Mediterranean theater. Apart from the Punic Wars, these mostly took place in the eastern Mediterranean. It is not intended to be comprehensive. A negative sign indicates BC.

FromToPeaceWarMajor Participants
-1180-725World War Zero Luwian (Sea People)Rest of the known world
-750-725Trojan WarMycenaean GreeceTroy
-499-488226Ionian Revolt/First Persian WarGreek City-States CoalitionPersain Empire
-431-40457Peleponesian WarAthenian empirePeleponesian league (Sparta)
-430-425-26Archidamian WarAthensSparta
-416-4169Sicilian warSyracuseSicily
-414-4042Ionian (Decelean) WarAthensSparta
-338-32666Conquests of Alexander the GreatMacedonian GreecePersain Empire, Egypt, India
-264-24162First Punic WarRomeCarthage
-218-20123Second Punic WarRomeCarthage
-214-148-13Macedonian Wars RomeGreece
-149-146-1Third Punic WarRomeCarthage
622750768Early Muslim ConquestsMuhammad et al.Rest of the known world
10961099346First CrusadeChristiansMuslims
1147114948Second CrusadeChristiansMuslims
1187119238Third CrusadeChristiansMuslims
1202120410Fourth CrusadeChristiansMuslims
120812714Final CrusadesChristiansMuslims
1285192314Ottoman Empire Conquests and FallOttoman EmpireRest of the world

It’s difficult to see how “for millennia, those who lived near it thrived off one another, always trading and frequently cooperating from coast to coast,” could be even remotely consistent with history.

Athens-based environment journalist:

Some of the Med’s troubles are due to its unusual topography. Because it has few external outlets, it takes roughly 100 years for a drop of water to exit the sea, so there’s less dilution of toxins, and because some of the strongest currents flow west to east, the eastern Med bears the brunt of the entire littoral’s poor practices. But that’s only part of the story.


It appears that the actual circulation of the Mediterranean is fairly effective in moving littoral pollution out to the open ocean. Nor does there appear to be a bias toward water flowing from west to east.

Surface circulation in the Mediterranean Sea

The large-scale circulation of the Mediterranean Sea has been described as sub-basin-scale and mesoscale gyres interconnected and bounded by currents and jets with strong seasonal and inter-annual variability (Millot and Taupier-Letage 2005). This general circulation flow impinges on the coastal regions and strongly influences the local dynamics of currents. Shelf areas in the Mediterranean are comparatively small and are separated from the deepest regions by steep continental shelf breaks. This configuration makes possible the intrusion of the large-scale flow field on the coastal/shelf areas and the direct influence of the large-scale currents on coastal flow. Transport of material from the coastal areas to the open ocean is enhanced by this mechanism, with important consequences for the maintenance of the ecological cycles in the basin (EEA and UNEP 1999) and for the potential for redistribution of pollution from land-based sources.

Year: 2013

From collection: State of the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Environment

Cartographer: GRID-Arendal

Figure 2. Surface circulation in the Med (UNEP)

For that matter, sea level rise over most of the Mediterranean is fairly insignificant.

Figure 3. Mediterranean sea level variation (UNEP)

Irony can be so… ironic…

Sea level is rising significantly in the Eastern Mediterranean, with an average 12 cm rise registered on the Levantine coast since 1992. However, causes are not yet known, and a cause-effect relationship with climate change has not yet been established.

Year: 2013

From collection: State of the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Environment

Cartographer: GRID-Arendal

Figure 4. “That there is funny!”

Athens-based environment journalist:

Commercial interests might be the Med’s best bet, though not ones of the oil and gas variety. More than 200 million tourists…

Who else is surprised that the Athens-based environment journalist would advise eastern Mediterranean nations to forego development of their vast oil & gas potential in favor of tourism? Kind of like “Make the Middle East Florida Already”. Unsurprisingly, reality differs from the environment journalist’s fantasy land.

Reality, as reported from Athens:

Global Development: An oil boom is transforming the eastern Mediterranean — and changing relationships, especially with Israel


Reporting from Athens —  

In 2007, Mathios Rigas spent $1.13 million to buy a near-dormant oil well in Greece with a license that was about to expire. The engineer-turned-banker hired a Venezuelan petroleum chemist, the only person he had met in Greece who knew about oil and gas. He called his company “Energean,” a play on the words energy and the Aegean Sea.

It paid off. The Prinos oilfield, Greece’s only oil-producing asset, held more reserves than thought and is now producing thousands of barrels a day. In 2016, armed with the experience, Rigas placed another bet and bought the rights to develop the Karish and Tanin natural gas fields off the coast of Israel — a country that bigger oil and natural gas exploration companies were avoiding because it could affect their business with Arab countries or Iran.


The eastern Mediterranean, better known for strife and conflict, has become a hive of prospecting activity. Israel was once at the mercy of volatile, largely unfriendly neighbors for fuel supplies but now has enough natural gas for itself and to sell to others. Egypt boasts facilities that can process and export natural gas both from its own field, the largest in the region, as well as its new gas-rich neighbors. Tiny Cyprus is grappling with how to best exploit newly discovered natural gas fields off the shores of the long-divided island. And Greece has joined the oil and natural gas search, hoping for another bonanza in its waters after a bruising decade of economic depression.

Israel is the poster child of the natural gas rush that is transforming energy paupers into princes. In 2009, a natural gas field about 50 miles west of the Israeli port of Haifa, dubbed Tamar, was discovered. Then, in 2010, Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. located massive offshore fields 80 miles from Haifa. Named Leviathan, it is a monster of a natural gas field that would not only make Israel self-sufficient but also allow it to export.


LA Times

Leviathan is fracking YUGE!

Noble Energy made the first discovery offshore Israel in 1999 and has discovered 40 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of recoverable natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. Mari-B delivered first domestic gas in 2004, and Tamar currently fuels 70 percent of the country’s electricity generation. The Leviathan field, which holds 33 Tcf of natural gas resources in place (22 Tcf recoverable) and was discovered in December 2010, 125 kilometers west of Haifa, was one of the largest natural gas finds in the world in the last decade. The Leviathan Partnership invested $3.75 billion in development of the Leviathan field. With a total production capacity of 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/d), Leviathan will more than double the quantity of natural gas flowing to the Israeli economy today. 

Noble Energy

The Levant Basin is largely unexplored.

Figure 5. Levant Basin (Offshore Technology)

The Levant Basin is proof that “dying” is no big deal to the Mediterranean Sea…

The Levantine geological basin was formed in several main tectonic stages, and early Mesozoic rifting led to the shaping of a large graben and horst system, stretching across the onshore and offshore Levant Basin. The basin is infilled by post-rift tertiary sedimentation.

Reservoirs within the basin mainly contain Mesozoic and Paleogene sandstones, near shore marine and submarine sandstones and Jurassic and Cretaceous shelf-margin carbonates.

The Oligo-Miocene reservoir rocks at Leviathan field are deep-water slope and fan sandstones sealed by sedimentary rocks of the mid to late Miocene age and Messinian age salt. Natural gas at the Leviathan field was found in several sub-salt Miocene intervals.

As per the US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, the entire Leviathan Basin holds a mean approximation of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

The Leviathan gas field’s natural gas reserves are estimated to be 18 trillion cubic feet (tcf). Besides natural gas, the field is said to contain 600 million barrels of oil beneath the gas layer.

Offshore Technology

The reservoirs (“Mesozoic and Paleogene sandstones, near shore marine and submarine sandstones and Jurassic and Cretaceous shelf-margin carbonates”) of the Leviant Basin were deposited in the old Mediterranean Sea before it died. The pink layer on the cross-section (Messinian Evaporites) represents a thick layer of halite (salt) and gypsum that precipitated from the old Mediterranean Sea as it evaporated during the late Miocene Epoch.

Figure 6. Schematic cross-section of the Leviathan Basin (Bowman, 2011).

During the late Miocene, the Mediterranean Sea literally dried up and deposited a layer of halite and gypsum about a mile thick (Messinian salinity crisis). Then in the early Pliocene Epoch, the Mediterranean rapidly flooded (Zanclean megaflood), leading to the formation of the modern Mediterranean Sea. The Zanclean megaflood was a doozy.  If Gavin Schmidt’s Silurian civilization had been thriving on the Messinian  salt flats during the Late Miocene, the Zanclean megaflood would have wiped them out without a trace.  The transition from the MSC to the Zanclean megaflood marks the transition from the Miocene to the Pliocene.  It left a serious mark on the stratigraphic record.

Some reconstructions of the Zanclean megaflood suggest that sea level in the Mediterranean could have risen at a rate of 10 meters per day during the peak flow of water from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean basin.

A Megaflood-Powered Mile-High Waterfall Refilled the Mediterranean

Evidence of the Zanclean megaflood in the eastern Mediterranean Basin

Catastrophic Flood of the Mediterranean After the Messinian Salinity Crisis

Now, that’s what I call climate change!

So, don’t worry about conflicts over resources, territory and culture in the eastern Mediterranean… It’s been the norm for thousands of years. And don’t lose any sleep over history’s greatest sea dying… It’s been there, done that and then recovered… There might even be a t-shirt.


Bowman, Steven. (2011). “Regional seismic interpretation of the hydrocarbon prospectivity of offshore Syria”. GeoArabia. 16.

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nw sage
December 20, 2019 7:04 pm

So, if the opening to the Atlantic at Gibraltar were blocked off permanently – see tectonic plate movement – the Mediterranean could dry out again and we could all start over?

Roger D P Geol
Reply to  David Middleton
December 20, 2019 7:38 pm


Reply to  David Middleton
December 20, 2019 8:35 pm

Yes. Yes. Yes.

“So, don’t worry about conflicts over resources, territory and culture in the eastern Mediterranean… It’s been the norm for thousands of years. And don’t lose any sleep over history’s greatest sea dying”

Africa’s plate moving North has already made profound changes to Europe. Eventually, the Mediterranean will become another dead sea with climbing salt levels as the water evaporates.

Only, not in this century or any century we can realistically imagine Mediterranean life.

Reply to  ATheoK
December 21, 2019 6:53 am

In one of the Star Trek books, they have built a hydro-electric dam across the Straits of Gibraltar.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  David Middleton
December 20, 2019 9:40 pm

salt basins

Eastern Ohio, Cleveland, Lake Erie and southwest toward St. Louis.

And yes, I got to the bit about “always trading and frequently cooperating”
and knew I was reading nonsense.

Thanks David.

Reply to  nw sage
December 21, 2019 11:36 am

Yes, and nitpick with the author stating flows are not west to east. First his reference uses open oceans to mean middle of Mediterranean while those who wrote the propaganda mean the Atlantic and other oceans. The Mediterranean evaporates more water than what flows into it therefore flow has to be west to east. If rate of evaporation was reducing due to cooling or higher humidity then that could explain higher sea rise.
Jacque Cousteaus shows interesting changes in sea from scuba shoots very compelling evidence of REAL pollution not fake C02 Pollution. Real pollution is something that is being fixed.

David L Hagen
December 20, 2019 7:23 pm

Thanks for Zanclean Flood perspective – the greatest Megaflood ever!
Zanclean Flood Animation
55,215 views•Feb 27, 2018

Martin Howard Keith Brumby
December 20, 2019 7:28 pm

Great post!
I was just about to comment on the previous post on the “7000 year old sea wall” (very likely an early breakwater, not a sea wall), when this popped up.

You can see in a minute what kind of Greek Green Marxist nutter wrote the article David has neatly punctured.

In fact there are many fabulous places to visit in the Eastern Mediterranean. I recommend Israel, where the Jewish communities are pretty effective in looking after both ancient historical sites and the environment.

Try Kesariye (Caesarae), built by Herod arount 10 BC. Amazing breakwaters and jetties, now 5m under water.

Of course, other communities aren’t so careful.
The harbour at Ephesus (Turkey) is well worth a visit but the Greek harbour is now a couple of miles inland. Climate and sea levels change. Who knew?

What is absolutely clear is that a modern functional and wealthy society will be much more likely to look after their heritage, especially if they aren’t held back by the enthusiasts of the idea that there is only one book worth reading.

I’d trust today’s oil & gas industries a thousand times more than a bunch of Marxist eco loons or Islamic fundamentalists.

Reply to  Martin Howard Keith Brumby
December 21, 2019 2:19 am

“The harbour at Ephesus (Turkey) is well worth a visit but the Greek harbour is now a couple of miles inland. Climate and sea levels change. Who knew?”

I believe that was due to siltation.

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 3:59 am

‘I believe that was due to siltation.’
And tectonic movement.

Reply to  Disputin
December 21, 2019 4:19 am

Maybe some effect, but heavy deforestation and overgrazing were the main factors.

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 6:58 am

Siltation can fill in a harbor, but it can’t move it inland.
If siltation were the only factor, the harbor would turn into a salt marsh.

Reply to  MarkW
December 21, 2019 8:06 am

That’s what happened and malaria ensued.

Reply to  Martin Howard Keith Brumby
December 21, 2019 3:01 am

“In fact there are many fabulous places to visit in the Eastern Mediterranean. I recommend Israel, where the Jewish communities are pretty effective in looking after both ancient historical sites and the environment. ”

Israel has some horrendous pollution. Virtually all of its rivers are much more polluted than those in the US and Europe, and it’s 12th worst in urban air pollution. I read years ago that a visiting athlete died after he fell into a polluted Israeli river. They’re destroying the Dead Sea; there are areas that tourists can’t even visit anymore because of anthropogenic sinkholes.

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 5:49 am

The Dead Sea has always been …. well, dead.

Reply to  tty
December 21, 2019 8:04 am

Yeah well it really sucks (yuk yuk) when you can’t hang out there to glory in its deadness without falling into some alien suck-hole (0:23 in video). Unusual! Unbeliveable! Could happen tomorrow! (like the climate apocalypse). WHY?

Dead Sea sink hole

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 7:01 am

The Dead Sea is on the border of both Isreal and Jordan.
Your eagerness to blame everything on Isreal, even to believe and pass on urban legends so long as Israel is the bad guy, is duely noted.

Reply to  MarkW
December 21, 2019 8:09 am

Nothing of the sort. Both countries are doing the same thing, and are equally to blame. The commenter didn’t mention Jordan, so why bother bringing it up?.

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 12:11 pm

We were referring specifically to the Dead Sea. I’ve only seen pictures of sink holes on the Israeli side, but I assume they are also happening on the Jordanian side.

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 12:35 pm

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 12:47 pm

That EPI report has a lot more factors involved than just pollution. CO2 and methane emissions, for example, that offset pollution in that index. I was only referring to pollution.

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 2:47 pm

The commenter blamed it all on the Jews. I pointed out that there are two parties that border the Dead Sea.
The claim that someone died merely from falling into a river, doesn’t pass the laugh test.
The fact that you believed it just indicates how eager you are to believe anything bad about Israel.

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 2:49 pm

Nice attempt to change the subject. Your posts are still above.
You made the claim that Isreal has a terrible environmental record and used the Dead Sea as an example.

Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 4:48 pm

“The claim that someone died merely from falling into a river, doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

My bad. Not just one person, four people died. One died from the fall (I guess), the other 3 died from exposure to the polluted river water. Easy to find. For more details search Maccabiah Bridge collapse.

Elizabeth Sawicki, a member of the Australian bridge team, died of lung and kidney problems Saturday.

Dr. Yossi Marzel of the Afula hospital, where Sawicki was treated, said today that the 47-year-old Melbourne native absorbed a large amount of chemicals, pesticides and oil when she fell into the river on July 14.


Reply to  icisil
December 21, 2019 4:53 pm

” You made the claim that Isreal has a terrible environmental record and used the Dead Sea as an example.”

No I said they have severe water and air pollution issues (which is easily verified), and are destroying the Dead Sea (along with the Jordanians). The Israelis in the video above admit the same. If something isn’t done to stop water loss it will disappear by 2050 (according to them).

Jeff Alberts
December 20, 2019 7:34 pm

Those are just the wars we KNOW of.

Bob boder
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
December 21, 2019 4:43 am

If fact they are only a very small fraction of the wars we know about.

December 20, 2019 8:40 pm

Right now Turkey and Libya appear to be joining forces to stop Israel building a gas pipeline to Greece. Turkey is trying to drill in water claimed by Cyprus. The Turkish navy has escorted an Israeli exploration vessel away from the area and Israeli jets have circled the Turkish exploration ship. So the next round of confrontation in the Eastern Med is already underway.

Reply to  Patrick
December 21, 2019 2:43 am

Turkey is trying to claim a maritime corridor between itself and Libya (in cahoots with the UN sponsored GNA) that cuts across the Greek and Cretan Exclusive Economic Zones. A Libyan (LNA; Libyan national) naval commander has said that if they try to explore for oil in Libyan waters, he has orders to sink their ships. Turkey is a major destabilizing force in the Mideast.

“I have order to sink Turkish vessels, Erdogan is a mafioso,” says Libya ‘s Navy Chief

December 20, 2019 9:00 pm

I am rather interested in history, yet all I’d heard of was the ‘mysterious Sea-peoples’, not the Luwians.

When ‘mysterious’ gets over-used in a modern archeological context relating to relatively not that long ago, as in ‘the mysterious Picts’, one wonders if the mystery is why that word is used as a blanket over a seeming lack of interest in attempting to demystify the subject properly?

Another mystery is why, when modern archeology finds that a worsening climate likely caused an invasion or mass-migration, that it is often seen as an opportunity to bow before the current CO2 hysteria rather than a simple recognition of climate’s likely role in the rise and fall of many civilisations?

Reply to  Gumnut
December 20, 2019 9:31 pm

Archaeology that is, of course.

Must have reprogrammed auto-correct by accident.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Gumnut
December 20, 2019 9:53 pm

Wikipedia and other sources have articles on both Luwians and “the Sea-People.”
Modern techniques will likely reveal more, but it seems a bit fuzzy to me now.

Reply to  David Middleton
December 21, 2019 6:00 am

The Luwians, the Luwian language and the country of Arzawa, which was the main political unit in the luwian area are all reasonably well attested historically.

Just what happened around 1190 BC remains very unclear, mostly because the collapse of the bronze age civilizations meant that Greece and most of Anatolia became completely illiterate for several centuries. The last clay tablets from e. g. Pylos and Ugarit makes it clear that the rulers there saw some kind of dire threat approaching, but unfortunately they did not spell out exactly what, who or why.

Reply to  Gumnut
December 21, 2019 2:50 pm

I thought the “sea people” were believed to be the Phonecians?

Reply to  MarkW
December 21, 2019 3:45 pm

The Sea People were not a “people” but an attitude.
A lot like the Huns or a large biker gang

Reply to  MarkW
December 21, 2019 6:10 pm

The thought is that the Philistines were some of the sea peoples. This is the start of the Iron age, and they had iron, and the Israelite’s didn’t. They arrive along the coast about that time, and build their cities.

The book “1177BC, the year civilization collapsed”, is interesting. It describes the “world wide” civilizations that all crashed at the same time. What we don’t know is a whole lot more than what we know.

December 20, 2019 9:25 pm

If the Mediterranean is in such bad shape, perhaps the EU would fund Mediterranean Sea coastal works per kilometre per member country?

And the biggest recipient would be…..


Or am I just being cynical?

mike the morlock
December 20, 2019 9:52 pm

Hi David you missed a good one
Xenophon’s Anabasis

Civil war in the Persian empire occurred between the Peloponnese war and Alexander the great.
10,000 out of work Greek hoplits in need of a new employer.
The Anabasis is a great book if you never read it.

Oh yes you did make your point about the region being near endless conflict.

Trade, many of the shipwrecks have been found carrying tin and copper ingots which were used to make bronze weapons, armor, arrowheads, yup real cooperative ad peaceful.


Joel O'Bryan
December 20, 2019 11:48 pm


Don’t forget the 300 movies!!!.
Xerxes I and his Persian attempted conquest of Troy and Greece immortalized in movies and comic books. :0
The 2 300 movies were fun popcorn, cheap gore thrillers; and certainly not “date night” movies.
And historically, quite a bit way way over the top.

Still the idea reality of craploads of natural gas offshore of Israel must make the Israelis very happy.

December 20, 2019 11:56 pm

You mean the First World War was not the first?! Actually I am not surprised, although I doubt Zero is that unusual, so we will have to start using negative numbers, or BZ (Below Zero) numbers. When your world is small every war is a world war.

Mesopotamia is fascinating.

There is a saga about the Vikings capturing Rome, with the Trojan Casket trick. Except they made a mistake and took Luna instead. When they found out their mistake they were furious and plundered and burned the city as punishment. But they were massacred by the Muslim fleet on their way home.

Ben Vorlich
December 21, 2019 12:20 am

Does the Egyptian Hyksos conflict count as a Mediterranean war?

December 21, 2019 1:53 am

Back in the 60s when major tourist development really took off it was being muttered that the Med was a giant toilet bowl without an effective flush mechanism. It seems to have survived so far.

Reply to  Susan
December 21, 2019 6:11 am

It actually does flush. There is an outgoing current at depth through the Gibraltar Sound.

Oddly enough during the previous interglacial the Eastern Mediterranean Basin beame completely dead at depth. However this was not due to Neanderthals driving SUV’s, but was caused by a larger inflow of fresh water from the then almost completely green Sahara and Middle East. This put a brackish “lid” on the Eastern Basin and prevented ventilation of the lower layer.
This has happened during several interglacials, but only very briefly at the beginning of this interglacial, it hasn’t really been warm and wet enough.

Incidentally these “sapropels”, the organics-rich layer formed during anoxic episodes are potential source-rocks for future oif fields, once the Mediterranean has dried out for good (which it will, in not too many million years)

December 21, 2019 1:57 am

Wattsupwiththat has taught me that research is a must, it takes a simple google search to dismiss the utter rubbish that the greens write..

December 21, 2019 3:33 am

Five years ago NASA published the CO2 concentration map in Europe showing that the NE Mediterranean area has the highest concentration, which btw has the smallest concentration of the industrial complexes associated with the CO2 emissions.
I added map of the tectonic plates fault lines and the earthquakes occurrence distribution.
It could be concluded that the earth’s crust itself, at least in the Mediterranean, is a major contributor to the CO2 emissions.

David Chappell
Reply to  vukcevic
December 21, 2019 6:51 am

On the upper CO2 map the variation in CO2 concentration over the whole area is about 1ppm.

Reply to  David Chappell
December 21, 2019 10:07 am

that is about the came as the average annual increment during the last 20 years.

David Chappell
Reply to  vukcevic
December 21, 2019 8:37 pm

So? The point I was implying is that to try to differentiate to less than 1ppm over such a wide area is academic futility (to put it politely). Is it even within the system limits of accuracy?

December 21, 2019 6:18 am

Oddly enough the Mediterranean has no corals except for a few cold-water species mostly in the west.

The Eastern Basin is warm enough for hermatypic (reef-building) corals, but they died out during the Pleistocene glaciations.

A number of other tropical organisms that had also died out in the Med has reinvaded it during the last century by way of the Suez Canal (so called “lessepsian immigrants”), but corals apparently can’t make it through because the canal is too turbid, and in winter too cold, for corals.

December 21, 2019 7:14 am

Excuse me, but THE Trojan War? Troy was sacked and burned at least seven times. This person needs to stop relying on stories and learn a little something about what happened in them there parts of the world.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Sara
December 21, 2019 10:03 am

Constant wars. Only Empire* ever brought any peace. What we see now is the final crisis of Arab-Islamic civilization. It is lapsing back into the tribal Hobbesian state of nature**. Only the reimposition of imperial rule could save them. And, there is no country in the world that is sufficiently ruthless and wealthy to pull that off.

*On the left imperialism is thought to be a sin, but they are wrong. Only the Romans ever enforced a peace on the entire Mediterranean which sheltered commerce and brought prosperity to all. The British came close in the 19th Century, but that possibility died in the World Wars.

**A war of all against all where there are no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
December 21, 2019 10:30 am

Part of the N. Mediterranean coast and the near interior where I come from has enjoyed longest period of peace of just under half a century from 1945 to 1992. Post WWII generation couldn’t wait to have go at their neighbours regardless which the religious grouping was concerned Orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians and Muslims, each had a go at the other two, it defied common sense; enemy of my enemy was my enemy too.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Vuk
December 21, 2019 7:51 pm

Hi Vuk

Of course it defied common sense. It was religion!

Doing what religion does best – beating on people who prefer a different religion.

You could even make the case that beating on those who preferred different religions, was the ultimate purpose of religions throughout a lot of human history. Uniting the tribe.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Smart Rock
December 21, 2019 10:59 pm

No. Religion has nothing to do with it. Consider the following:

Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist for ever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do.


Thucydides is enunciating the rule that obtains between nations in all times and at all places. It is rule or be ruled. The strong do what they wish and the weak suffer what they must.

It has nothing to do with ideas held by the parties. It is has everything to do with the logic of asymmetrical power.

Ari Saltiel
December 22, 2019 8:53 am

I live on the eastern Mediterranean shore for 50 years- where it says there is a 10mm+ a year sea level rise.
I call B.S. Not happening.

Alasdair Fairbairn
December 22, 2019 2:39 pm

Reading this and the comments makes it all abundantly clear ; but the very abundance is totally confusing. (sarc.

Gary Pearse
December 22, 2019 3:19 pm

David, your eclectic forays into things non geological is a treat! The logic used in the beautiful forensic science of geology seems powerfully applicable to history, biology, sociology (not the corrupt broken ‘discipline’ called by that term today and identifiable by the rubric “It’s all bad and caused by conservative humans”)

Johann Wundersamer
January 2, 2020 7:39 am

D. Middleton, thx for a great compilation!

Ergänzt / expanded by




WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Alternative Titles: Aral Tengizi, Orol Dengizi, Orol Sea


Aral Sea, Kazakh Aral Tengizi, Uzbek Orol Dengizi, a once-large saltwater lake of Central Asia. It straddles the boundary between Kazakhstan to the north and Uzbekistan to the south.

The shallow Aral Sea was once the world’s fourth largest body of inland water. The remnants of it nestle in the climatically inhospitable heart of Central Asia, to the east of the Caspian Sea. The Aral Sea and its demise are of great interest and increasing concern to scientists because of the remarkable shrinkage of its area and volume that began in the second half of the 20th century—when the region was part of the Soviet Union—and continued into the 21st. That change resulted primarily because of the diversion (for purposes of irrigation) of the riverine waters of the Syr Darya (ancient Jaxartes River) in the north and the Amu Darya (ancient Oxus River) in the south, which discharged into the Aral Sea and were its main sources of inflowing water.


The Aral Sea depression was formed toward the end of the Neogene Period (which lasted from about 23 to 2.6 million years ago). Sometime during that process the hollow was partially filled with water—a portion of which came from the Syr Darya. In the early and middle parts of the Pleistocene Epoch (about 2,600,000 to 11,700 years ago), the region appears to have dried up, only to be inundated again sometime between the end of the Pleistocene and the early Holocene Epoch (i.e., after about 11,700 years ago)—the latter instance being the first time by the Amu Darya, which had temporarily changed its course from the Caspian to the Aral Sea. After that, except for some relatively brief dry spells between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE, the two rivers’ combined flows generally maintained a high water level in the sea until the 1960s.

Climate And Hydrology

The Aral Sea area is characterized by a desert-continental climate that features wide-ranging diurnal air temperatures, cold winters, hot summers, and sparse rainfall. The rate of precipitation—an annual average of 4 inches (100 mm) in all, occurring mainly in the spring and autumn—is only a tiny fraction of the lake’s traditional rate of evaporation. Northwesterly winds prevail in autumn and winter, and westerly and southwesterly winds are common in spring and summer.”


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