Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569)

Those of you across the Northern tier of the nation know you're about to get another bracing blast of Arctic air. As you hunker down to weather the latest offering from the warming planet in front of a fireplace, wood stove, kitchen range, camp stove, or just wrapped in a blanket with your sweetie, here are some things to consider. Viv Forbes, a geologist and mineral economist out of Queensland Australia, has an informative piece on the current cycle of climate change, "Climate Change in Perspective". I reproduce his conclusions here, but I urge you to read the whole thing--it's one of the clearest and best treatments of the current hysteria about CO2 emissions pushing us past some tipping point of high temperature, beyond which we can never recover. Common sense and every bit of the geological record argue against the proposition. Instead, it is more than likely that we are heading into another sustained period of serious cold, not unlike the "Little Ice Age" of 1400-1900, which, in geological time, was just a couple of minutes ago.

Dr Forbes concludes:

  • There is no global warming crisis. The world is just emerging from the Little Ice Age – so naturally temperatures will be above those of last century.
  • There is nothing unusual about today’s temperature levels or their trends. There were several periods since the Big Ice Age ended that had temperatures above the present.
  • Man’s emissions of carbon dioxide are beneficial not dangerous. And current levels of CO2 are low by historical standards. All life would benefit from an increase in CO2 content.
  • Extreme weather events are a permanent feature of the world’s climate. Weather extremes occur at any time and in all climate phases. All we can do is “Be Prepared”.
  • Humans cannot control the climate or the weather. They must learn to adapt to whatever the future holds, or, like the dinosaurs that ruled the world for far longer than humans have done, disappear and be listed among the long list of species extinguished by climate change.
  • “Climate Change” is the natural condition on earth – climate and weather are never still. If we have anything to fear from “Climate Change” it is not warming, whose effects are almost wholly beneficial. What we need to fear is a return of the cold, dry, hungry ice ages.
  • It is clear that the theory that carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming is false. It predicted increasing warming as the CO2 content rose. But temperatures fell, twice in the last 100 years. Now in another fraudulent about face they will try to say that man’s CO2 is now causing the cooling. In other words, no matter what happens, they will adjust the theory to claim it proves their failed thesis. This is pseudo science.
  • An alternative theory that phases in climate are affected by solar cycles has been proved to largely agree with observations. Those forecasts came before the event suggesting that the theory may be correct.
  • There is no need whatsoever for an economically dangerous, and scientifically discredited, "Emissions Trading Scheme" with its taxes, bureaucracy and disruptions
Another interesting article is "Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age," and a very useful site for both warmists and us deniers is, which offers the latest and best work on both sides.

For a highly entertaining literary treatment of life in an ice age, read Mark Helprin's amazing Winter's Tale, a tale of a winter in New York City in the mode of "magical realism". Helprin is also a Senior Fellow at the Claremont Institute for Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and a very sharp guy. Always read anything he writes.

Innes adds: I had never heard of this "Little Ice Age." Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569) was the first to feature these severe winters in his paintings, completing seven of them in two years, including "Hunters in the Snow." I added the painting above.

Prof. Scott Mandia at SUNY Suffolk, writes:

Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850 that brought dire consequences to its peoples. The colder weather impacted agriculture, health, economics, social strife, emigration, and even art and literature. Increased glaciation and storms also had a devastating affect on those that lived near glaciers and the sea.

Impact on Agriculture: Lamb (1966) points out that in the warmest times of the last 1000 years, southern England had the climate that northern France has now. For example, the difference between the northern-most vineyard in England in the past and present-day vineyard locations in France is about 350 miles. In other terms that means the growing season changed by 15 to 20 percent between the warmest and coldest times of the millennium. That is enough to affect almost any type of food production, especially crops highly adapted to use the full-season warm climatic periods. During the coldest times of the LIA, England's growing season was shortened by one to two months compared to present day values. ... Each of the peaks in prices corresponds to a particularly poor harvest, mostly due to unfavorable climates with the most notable peak in the year 1816 - "the year without a summer." One of the worst famines in the seventeenth century occurred in France due to the failed harvest of 1693. Millions of people in France and surrounding countries were killed....

Mer de Glace, by Samuel Birmann (1793-1847), soon after the Alpine glacier had reached its maximum extent

And this pattern of climate change, though it had nothing to do with big American cars, seems to have been quite influential in one of the most dramatic turns in Western history, the French Revolution.

One of history's most notorious quotes might have been due in part to a rare extremely warm period during the LIA. In northern France in 1788, after an unusually bad winter, May, June, and July were excessively hot, which caused the grain to shrivel. On July 13, just at harvest time, a severe hailstorm (which typically occurs when there is very cold air aloft) destroyed what little crops were left. From that bad harvest of 1788 came the bread riots of 1789 which led to Marie Antoinette's alleged remark "Let them eat cake," and the storming of the Bastille.

So Viv Forbes's warning that "What we need to fear is a return of the cold, dry, hungry ice ages" is a real attention grabber.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Also, from approx. 900 A.D. to 1350 there was the medieval warm period. Iceland and Greenland were settled. The Norse might have had reason to coin the word 'Berserk' but they weren't mad. The climate was milder than the present-day.