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Megadroughts Pt. 1: Ancient Societal Collapse

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The American West is parched right now by extreme and persistent drought. That has a lot of people wondering what will happen if the rains don’t come and the water dries up. But if history has anything to teach us about megadroughts, it’s that they can pose a very serious threat to civilization.

Throughout human history, great societies have suffered the withering effects of extreme drought. Archaeologists, examining the historical record, say that drought played a major part in the collapse of the Maya, the Old Kingdom of Egypt, the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia and others. And then there was the breakdown of the Ancestral Puebloans, who, hundreds of years ago, fled the Four Corners region and never returned. This Friday at noon we’re kicking off our three-part series about droughts by talking about what happened to these cultures, and what we can learn from the worst outcomes of some of the worst droughts in human history.

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Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
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