The Lie Takes a Licking ... Again!
Volume 4, Number 10: 7 March 2001
Climate alarmists loudly proclaim that the last decade of the 20th century was the warmest such period of the past millennium. Why do they do that? They do it because it enables them to make the subsidiary claim that the putative hothouse of the present is due to a century-or-so-long increase in the strength of the atmosphere's greenhouse effect, which phenomenon the relentless global warmers attribute to the concomitant rise in the air's CO2 content, which they further say has been caused by the burning of ever-increasing quantities of coal, gas and oil. This thesis, together with a host of doom-and-gloom scenarios that the climate alarmists associate with the postulated warming (see last week's Editorial), spurs the funding of further research of the perceived problem, which is hyped to high heaven by a vast array of political opportunists who see it as the greatest stimulus for global governance the world has ever known, and which they and their minions therefore use as a lever to promulgate the doctrine that all nations of the earth must act together - strictly adhering to whatever regulations are imposed upon them by an all-wise planetary management authority - in order to slow the rate of postulated warming and thereby mitigate the host of catastrophic consequences that might otherwise occur.
But what if the climate alarmists are wrong? What if the present era is not the warmest period of the past millennium? The demonstration of the reality of that fact would be very bad for those who disdain the burning of fossil fuels; for it would then be clearly evident that the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content is not a problem. If, for example, the earth was warmer than it is currently at some earlier period of time when the CO2 content of the air was substantially lower than it is today - like when the Vikings colonized parts of North America during the Medieval Warm Period - it would be abundantly clear that high atmospheric CO2 levels are not a prerequisite for high air temperatures. This realization, in turn, would let the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content off the hook of responsibility for today's imaginary global warming, which is something the climate alarmists obviously do not want to see happen; for such a development would destroy their reason for being - or, at the very least, their reason for receiving more money to continue their studies of an imaginary problem with its host of imaginary deleterious consequences. And that, in turn, would greatly upset the all-too-real plans of those who hunger to preside over their very own planet-wide regulatory fiefdom.
In the face of such formidable forces working to maintain the fiction that the present period of time is the warmest such interval of the past thousand years, it is a wonder anyone of stature would dare to state a different view; for doing so will win one no prizes, nor will it garner one any fame, in today's politically correct climate (see our review of Mathiesen's pertinent new book). Yet the truth will ultimately prevail; and so today we are happy to report yet another victory (see Medieval Warm Period in our Subject Index for several related reports) in the long and arduous struggle that pits real-world climatic data against authoritarian climatic decree in the contentious debate over global warming and the role or non-role played by anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
The event we celebrate is the publication of Wallace Broecker's paleoclimate piece in Science: "Was the Medieval Warm Period Global?" Yes it was, says the world renowned climatologist-oceanographer, as he strikes a forceful blow at the very centerpiece of the IPCC's latest global warming juggernaut (see last week's Editorial).
Broecker begins by recounting the substantial evidence for a series of climatic warmings, spaced at roughly 1500-year intervals, that are similar to the warming the earth has experienced since the end of the Little Ice Age; and he indicates that these warmings - every prior one of which was obviously caused by something other than anthropogenic CO2 emissions - have occurred with great regularity throughout the present interglacial or Holocene period, as well as throughout the preceding glacial period.
This evidence alone should be sufficient to demonstrate there is nothing unique or unusual about the modest temperature increase the earth has experienced since the end of the Little Ice Age (a warming of approximately 0.6°C). Indeed, this run-of-the-mill warming, which began about 1860, is nothing more than a garden-variety climate change of the type that has occurred over and over again without any help from humanity. Hence, it is truly disingenuous of the climate alarmists to claim that this temperature increase bears the fingerprints of man.
Broecker next introduces us to the science of reconstructing surface air temperature histories from borehole temperature data, which technique reveals that the magnitude of the temperature drop over Greenland from the peak warmth of the Medieval Warm Period (800 to 1200 A.D.) to the coldest part of the Little Ice Age (1350 to 1860 A.D.) was approximately 2°C. And he notes that as many as six thousand borehole records from all continents of the world confirm that the earth was a significantly warmer place a thousand years ago than it is today.
Clearly, the warming we have experienced since the end of the Little Ice Age is in no way unusual, nor would even that much more warming be unusual. It's all part of a natural cycle that Broecker himself has spent much of his career helping to define and understand. We salute him for his insight, and for the courage to state what real-world data actually show, i.e., that man has had no discernable influence on the natural cycle of climate change that has ruled the world for eons.
Dr. Craig D. Idso
Dr. Keith E. Idso
Broecker, W.S. 2001. Was the Medieval Warm Period global? Science 291: 1497-1499.