Skip to comments.The Vikings knew more about climate change than today's eco-activists
Posted on 08/10/2003 11:38:14 PM PDT by LibWhacker
The Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age are historical realities, widely reported in Viking sagas. Neither can be explained by concentrations of greenhouse gases.
Almost unnoticed outside the Washington Beltway, one of the capital's most eminent wise men suddenly has become the most prominent person denying a "scientific consensus" on global warming.
James Schlesinger, the United States' first secretary of energy under former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, penned a reflective op-ed in The Washington Post on July 7 that ought to be required reading by the nation's science and environmental reporters who seem to have jumped en masse onto the global warming bandwagon.
In the piece, Schlesinger calmly noted that, when he was appointed energy czar in October 1977, the science community was worried -- almost to the point of panic -- about global cooling.
Temperatures fell from 1940 to 1975, and the National Science Board warned: "Judging from the record of the past interglacial ages, the present time of high temperatures should be drawing to an end . . . leading into the next glacial age."
Schlesinger goes on to observe that we currently have only a few global warming facts:
"First, since the start of the 20th century, the mean temperature at the earth's surface has risen about one degree Fahrenheit. Second, the level of (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere has been increasing for more than 150 years. Third, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas; and, increases in it, other things being equal, are likely to lead to further warming. Beyond these few facts, science remains unable either to attribute past climate change to changes in carbon dioxide or to forecast with any degree of precision how climate will change in the future."
Schlesinger notes that most of the earth's recent warming occurred before 1940, before much emission of man-made greenhouse gases. Moreover, he says, "The so-called Climatic Optimum of the early Middle Ages, when the earth temperatures were one to two degrees warmer than today and the Vikings established their flourishing colonies in Greenland, was succeeded by the Little Ice Age, lasting down to the early 19th century. Neither can be explained by concentrations of greenhouse gases. Moreover, through much of the earth's history, increases in carbon dioxide have followed global warming rather than the other way around."
The claim of a scientific consensus on global warming was never valid despite a well-financed effort by left-leaning foundations and professional environmentalists to stampede the public into suspending disbelief.
More than 17,000 scientists, indeed, signed a petition at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine opposing the Kyoto Protocol and denying evidence of human-caused atmospheric warming.
Of the 17,000 signers, 2,660 are physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers and environmental scientists. An additional 5,017 are scientists specializing in chemistry, biochemistry, biology and other life sciences.
A list of prominent dissenters on global warming include such world-class thinkers as:
n Frederick Seitz, a noted physicist, the first full-time president of the National Academy of Sciences and later president of Rockefeller University in New York;
n Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Research Councils Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate;
n Patrick Michaels, former president of the American Association of State Climatologists and a contributing author and reviewer for the IPCC;
n Fred Singer, former deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the founding director of the National Weather Satellite Service;
n Sally Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and deputy director of the Mount Wilson Observatory. She has won awards from the American Astronomical Society and Harvard University. In 1991, Discover Magazine profiled her as one of America's outstanding women scientists.
Baliunas says her studies have convinced her the variability of the sun's energy -- driven partly by its orbit and partly by the solar "wind" that builds up in front of it -- are driving changes in the earth's temperature.
She and a colleague recently published a widely reported analysis of 200 different studies of historic temperature proxies: tree rings, corals, lake sediments and the like. The studies confirm the Medieval Warming (800 to 1300) and the Little Ice Age (1300 to 1850) as major global temperature events that occurred without human "forcing."
Schlesinger knows the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age are historical realities, and are widely reported in Viking sagas, European monastery texts and the cherry blossoming dates in Japanese court records.
Unlike the highly politicized UN report that predicts global warming will trigger a full-scale environmental disaster by the end of this century, the historical record of cyclical climate change is well-documented and incontrovertible.
Rather than pandering to a small, but vociferous eco-activist constituency, politicians ought to heed Schlesinger's reflective advice and adopt an approach that calls for science first and action -- if necessary -- later.
Dennis T. Avery is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
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I hope the cycles are frequent enough that I can live to see the end of this warming cycle and the beginning of the inevitable cooling trend, and have a good hard horselaugh in the faces of some of my eco-freak family and acquaintances.
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