TCS Daily

An Inconceivable Truth?

By B.P. Terpstra - May 22, 2009 12:00 AM

Just how important is history? "China flourished in the Medieval Warming," explains Professor Ian Plimer in Heaven + Earth: Global Warming: The Missing Science. "Palace records, official histories, year books, gazettes and diaries record the arrival and departure of migratory birds; the distribution of plants, bamboo groves and fruit orchards; the patterns of elephant migrations; the flowering times of plants; and major floods and droughts. The growing seasons were longer and more reliable and citrus orchards moved north, only to move south once the Little Ice Age commenced." (p.68)

For many thinkers, the idea that the Industrial Revolution gave birth to global warming cars, global warming refrigerators and global warming aeroplanes is an inconceivable theory. And, in any case, what's wrong with longer summers and fabulous crops? "Similar good times were enjoyed by the Japanese as official records on weather, floods, droughts, heavy snows, long rains and mild winters show. It was warm from the 10th Century to the 14th Century, as in Europe." (p.69) Man is not the earth's author. Right now, we could be entering into a relatively cold period. Think of climate change as a long story:

Chapter One (for the sake of argument): Pleistocene ice age, 110,000-14,700bp. Chapter Two: Bölling, 14-700-13,900bp. Chapter Three: Older Dryas, 13,900-13,600bp. Chapter Four: Allerød, 13,600-12,900bp. Chapter Five: Younger Dryas, 12,900-11,600bp.Chapter Six: Holocene Warming a,11,600-8,500bp. Chapter Seven: Egyptian Cooling, 8,500-8,000bp. Chapter Eight: Holocene Warming b, 8,000-5,600bp. Chapter Nine: Akkadian Cooling, 5,600-3,500bp. Chapter Ten: Minoan Warming, 3,500-3,200bp. Chapter Eleven: Bronze Age Cooling, 3,200-2,500bp. Chapter 12: Roman Warming, 500BC-535AD. Chapter Thirteen: Dark Ages,535AD-900AD. Chapter Fourteen: Medieval Warming, 900AD-1300AD. Chapter Fifteen: Little Ice Age, 1300AD-1850AD. Chapter Sixteen: Modern Warming, 1850AD-...

Okay, a very long story. Or The Never Ending Story. In the wake of these extremely cold periods and unpredictable warm periods, I'm thankful that we're all alive today, unlike those farting dinosaurs which populated the earth in the Helen Thomas period. My dad's steers were saints in comparison. And while some cows graze on deforested lands, they certainly don't eat forests. So this idea - this very narcissistic idea - that we're creating extreme climates is simplitisic. The Victorians didn't create heatwaves, floods, or even snowfields. Plimer, is Professor of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and finds the time to get his hands dirty, and sift through thousands of primary and secondary sources as his 2,311 footnotes testify. But don't expect prophecies.

There's a little surprise for those pitchfork warmers from Al Gore's neck of the woods too: "North America also thrived in the Medieval Warming. Increased rainfall cut channels in the Great Plains and Alaska warmed quickly." Or focus your eyes on Canada: "Vegetation studies in northern Quebec show a cold period (760 to 860 AD) coinciding with the Dark Ages, a warming from 860 to 1000 AD reflecting the Medieval Warming and severe cold from 1025 to 1400 reflecting the Little Age." (p.70)

On the bright side (pun intended), warming periods brought forth Europe's wine renaissances. The question then was: Why is the wine so good and cheap? Plimer highlights many extraordinary stories. "The Doomsday Book of England shows where grapes were grown, in places where no grapes could now be cultivated for wine production." In the European experience, "England thrived and its population grew from 1.4 million to 5.5 million. France's population tripled to 18 million." (p.65) I imagine that burping Europeans with tans outnumbered pasty white teetotallers in many areas.

There's much history to digest. Remarkably, though, there's little respect, in liberal circles, for the many ways in which all races, from Indians to the Egyptians, survived extreme climates without modern technology and/or flourished in the good times. Instead, Martini Marxists like to focus on Armageddon-like tales. Plimer observes, "Like other fundamentalist apocalyptic religions, it states that now is the most important time in history and people are told that humanity is facing the greatest crisis ever." (p. 464) Which begs the question: Why downplay or ignore the achievements of outside-Malibu cultures and past generations? Is this sentisive? How about culturally literate?

Plimer also draws our eyes to history's the-end-of-the-world-is-nigh extremists, and ofers many good examples, although at times he stumbles a little here. Case in point: Plimer writes, "The New Testament tell us (Matthew 16:28) that the world will end before the death of the last Apostle. The world didn't end." (p. 457)

Actually, here, according to theolgians, Jesus isn't referring to the end of the world, but the transfiguration. Call him a drunk, like his enemies, or a wise prophet, like his dicsiples, but a con? To the contrary, Christ openly spoke about future generations, and even warned against dangerously cold periods, as opposed to global burning periods like the American prophet Al Gore. Side issues aside though, Heaven + Earth: Global Warming: The Missing Science is the change questioners have been waiting for, an eye-opening change.


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