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Springtime for Genghis

Back in September, I gave Conde Nast's Traveler magazine plenty of grief for running an article devoted to the environmentalism of modern Germany, that cheerfully referred to the nation's "Eco–Anschluss" -- as the original Anschluss really didn't work out all that well for, well, pretty much everyone.

But Mother Nature Network really takes the cake: "Was Genghis Khan history's greenest conqueror?"

Unlike modern day climate change, however, the Mongol invasion cooled the planet, effectively scrubbing around 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere.

So how did Genghis Khan, one of history's cruelest conquerors, earn such a glowing environmental report card? The reality may be a bit difficult for today's environmentalists to stomach, but Khan did it the same way he built his empire — with a high body count.

Over the course of the century and a half run of the Mongol Empire, about 22 percent of the world's total land area had been conquered and an estimated 40 million people were slaughtered by the horse-driven, bow-wielding hordes. Depopulation over such a large swathe of land meant that countless numbers of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests.

Genghis certainly took the first word in Al Gore's Assault on Reason title seriously. But while he (Genghis, not Al) did things the hard way, today's environmentalists long for a more push-button technique:

All of which is reminder that then and now, as Mark Steyn wrote a few years ago, “The ecochondriacs mean it: This’d be a pretty nice planet if we didn’t live here.”

Incidentally, it's too bad Saturday Night Live doesn't aim many punches leftward, as they could have had lots of fun doing an environmentally-themed version of Monty Python's classic "It's the Attila the Hun Show" sketch:

Update: Lyndon Johnson, vindicated at last!