Published: April 2009

Changing Rains

Flooded stairs in China

Outlook: Extreme

As the planet warms, look for more floods where it’s already wet and deeper drought where water is scarce.

By Elizabeth Kolbert
Photograph from China Daily/Reuters/Corbis

The world's first empire, known as Akkad, was founded some 4,300 years ago, between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers. The empire was ruled from a city—also known as Akkad—that is believed to have lain just south of modern-day Baghdad, and its influence extended north into what is now Syria, west into Anatolia, and east into Iran. The Akkadians were well organized and well armed and, as a result, also wealthy: Texts from the time testify to the riches, from rare woods to precious metals, that poured into the capital from faraway lands.

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