Monday, June 25, 2012

Arctic find could cause major shift in climate debate

There's a huge amount of CO2-eating marine plants that somehow got left out of the "models". If the models had been checkable against reality, it would have been recognized that there was this huge gap in them. That no gap was detected shows how far they are from reality

Two years ago, a Canadian research team alarmed climate scientists when it published the results of a survey of the oceans. The researchers reported that the world's phytoplankton - tiny, plant-like organisms that grow in seawater - seemed to have been disappearing at a rate of about 1 per cent a year for the past century. Using measurements of ocean clarity, they found that phytoplankton biomass had shrunk by about 40 per cent on average since 1950 and that the decline was observed in eight of 10 oceans and seas that circle the globe.

Water murkiness increases or decreases depending on the amount of phytoplankton drifting on or near the surface. In bloom, masses of microscopic marine algae show up in images taken from satellites as spectacular swathes of bright green or blue in the oceans. The fewer phytoplankton, the clearer the water, with the exception of zones of near-coast pollution.

The lead author of the study, Daniel Boyce, a marine scientist at Canada's Dalhousie University, said that a global phytoplankton decline of this magnitude was ''shocking''. Why? Because phytoplankton act in the same way as living trees and plants on land. They consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen as they grow.

Scientists say that phytoplankton provide more than half of the oxygen needed for life on earth. The tiny marine plants also remove up to 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere each year, mainly from burning fossil fuels and clearing forests. CO2 is the long-lasting global warming gas from human activity that most concerns climate scientists. Even small changes in the growth and density of phytoplankton could affect atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which have been rising steadily. In addition, phytoplankton are the basis of the marine food chain and sustain the health of fisheries. They are eaten by small ocean animals that are, in turn, eaten by larger fish and ocean creatures.

In the Arctic, the region of the world that is warming fastest, researchers have long assumed that the algae blooms only start in summer in open waters after the sea-ice melts, allowing sunlight to reach the marine plants and foster growth.

But an on-the-spot scientific survey in 2010 and 2011 using an ice-breaker, has come up with a result that astonished the scientists involved. The survey was sponsored by the US space agency, NASA, to validate images from its earth observation satellites.

The scientists found huge and highly productive phytoplankton blooms that satellite sensors could not detect because they were hidden under Arctic Ocean ice, a phenomenon one said was akin to finding a rainforest in a desert. Their findings were published on June 7.

One of the blooms extended from the sea-ice edge about 100 kilometres into the ice pack. It was up to 70 metres deep in places. The phytoplankton under the sea-ice were extremely productive, doubling in number more than once a day. Blooms in open water grow at a much slower rate, doubling in two to three days.

The researchers estimated that phytoplankton production under the ice in parts of the Arctic Ocean could be up to 10 times higher than in the nearby open ocean. They believe that thinning Arctic sea-ice is allowing sunlight to reach waters underneath and that about a quarter of the Arctic Ocean now has conditions conducive to such blooms.

Does this mean that the global ecosystem has a self-righting mechanism and that as humans pump ever more CO2 into the atmosphere warming the atmosphere and sea, and melting ice, phytoplankton production will increase and absorb the surplus greenhouse gas?

The jury is still out. But Paula Bontempi, NASA's ocean biology and biogeochemistry program manager in Washington, says that the discovery ''most certainly changes what we thought was happening in the Arctic'', where earlier research showed that phytoplankton was diminishing.

If Arctic sea-ice melts earlier in the summer because of climate change, the under-ice blooms could grow in extent or happen earlier in the year. This could affect marine life species that time their eating and breeding cycles to match peak phytoplankton growth.

Kevin Arrigo, a climate scientist at Stanford University in California and lead author of the new study, says at this point it is not known whether the rich phytoplankton blooms have been occurring under the Arctic Ocean ice for a long time without being observed, or whether they will become more widespread if Arctic sea-ice cover continues to thin as a result of global warming. The question has major political ramifications, since many countries are reluctant to curb their CO2 emissions because of the cost to economic growth. It will only be answered with more extensive research.


Huge coal-fired power stations in the ancient Arctic

Or something

A German-led team of scientists said on Thursday that the Arctic went through ice-free periods of extreme warmth over the past 2.8 million years, based on a new analysis of deep sediment in Russia.

The international team, headed by Martin Melles of the University of Cologne, Germany, drilled into an iced-over lake formed by a meteorite impact on the Chukchi Peninsula in Siberia for the longest sediment core ever collected in the terrestrial Arctic.

Since the meteorite struck an area of Lake El'gygytgyn that was not eroded by glaciers, the sediment record reaches back nearly 30 times further in time than ice cores from Greenland that cover the past 110,000 years.

The sediment reveals periods of extreme warmth that show the polar regions are much more vulnerable to change than previously thought, and are difficult to explain by greenhouse gases alone, said the study in the journal Science.

Scientists have long known that the Arctic went through climate cycles, but the latest research shows some of these warm phases were "exceptional," with temperatures four to five degrees Celsius warmer and 12 inches wetter than during normal interglacials, the study said.

Two of these "super-interglacials" happened about 400,000 years ago and 1.1 million years ago, and the data suggests it was virtually impossible for Greenland's ice sheet to have existed in its present form at those times.

But just what caused these extreme changes remains a mystery.

Since some of the Arctic changes mirror variations in the Antarctic discovered by previous studies, events at one pole may have triggered events at the other, the researchers said.

One possibility is that reduced ice cover in Antarctica led to less cold bottom water mass in the northern Pacific, triggering warmer surface waters, higher temperatures and more precipitation.

Another is that the dissolving Antarctic ice sheet led to global sea level rise that sent warm water rushing into the Arctic Ocean, the study said.


Coral reef expert rebuts UNESCO alarmism

by Walter Starck (Walter Starck is one of the pioneers in the scientific investigation of coral reefs)

A recent report by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee dated 1 June 2012 expresses great concern over threats to the Great Barrier Reef from coastal development, poor water quality and climate change. It states that,

"… there are a number of developments that, were they to proceed, would provide the basis to consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger."

The response to this report from the legions of eco-righteousness might best be described as delighted, with the news media and environmental groups widely presenting it an important problem demanding forceful action by government.

The Reef Is In Excellent Condition

However, like all such concerns about “threats” to the GBR, these are all only hypothetical possibilities that might occur but with no evidence to indicate that anything detrimental is actually happening. In reality the reef is in near pristine natural condition.

The human population of the region is small. Almost the entirety of the adjacent coast remains undeveloped. The port expansion at Gladstone about which the UN bureaucrats expressed great concern is over 20 Km downwind and across the prevailing ocean current from the nearest reef. Extensive experience of such dredging in GBR waters and elsewhere indicates there is no reason to expect any harm to the reef.

No degradation in water quality has been actually detected and use of agrichemicals in the catchment area has declined in recent years.

Occurrences of coral bleaching have been associated with El Niño events, not climate change. There is no indication that the frequency or intensity of such events have increased nor have floods or tropical cyclones.

Surface water temperatures show no significant trend over the past 60 years. Over the past decade there has been a slight cooling.

The maximum total catch for commercial fishing is restricted to an amount which equates with an average yearly harvest rate of only 90 g per hectare. This is about 1/1,600th of the average sustainable catch for well managed reef fisheries elsewhere.

The total damage to the reef from all of the shipping accidents that have ever occurred there would be only a fraction of one-precent of the natural damage which takes place naturally almost every year from tropical cyclones and that is well within the capacity of the reef to soon repair.

We Are Not in Such Great Condition

While the reef is in great condition, our own human ecology is not. We face a worsening global economic situation of unprecedented extent and complexity. All over the Western World economies are in trouble with productive activity struggling under a growing burden of bloated government and stifling bureaucracy for which environmentalism has provided a major impetus. Pandering to Green votes and indulging ourselves in paroxysms of righteousness over matters of political and environmental correctness is a luxury we can no longer afford. It is time to cease the obsession with non-problems and begin to address the real ones. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is only another pack of overpaid bureaucrats jetting around the world enjoying themselves on expense accounts Craig Thomson [An Australian union boss accused of great fraud] might envy.

Promoting hypothetical problems to maintain the rort is their first priority. The World Heritage mob is comprised of members from Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, Colombia, Senegal and United Arab Emirates. Senegal has no coral reefs and all of the others have badly abused ones. None of the committee members have any real expertise about reefs. They would all be well advised to go home and tend to their own problems. Their threat to list the GBR as being in danger would only make themselves look stupid. As for any effect on tourism, visitors are not going to stop wanting to see the GBR because some UN committee lists it as endangered. If anything, such listing would seem more likely to increase the desire to see it.

Mindlessly swallowing the swill of lies, contradictions, misrepresentations and muddled thinking dished up by the global eco-industry is costing us dearly in our freedom, food, energy, housing, health and way of life. In terms of natural abundance and socio-economic development all of these things should be improving here. They are instead declining in availability and affordability with misguided environmentalism being a major cause.

Threatened -

Threatened is an especially popular term of emotional index in the environmentalist lexicon. It even enjoys a formal status via the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Such listing is often highly political and includes numerous so-called iconic or charismatic species whose populations are large, and healthy. Such listing is aimed at support for various eco-agendas, not any real existential concern. Even the grey kangaroo was listed for a time. It was only removed when the absurdity of having to cull several million every year to prevent overpopulation threatened the Red List itself with being re-listed from misleading to meaningless.

The mother of all environmental threats has, of course, been Anthropogenic Global Warming (a.k.a. Climate Change). AGW has become the most revered of all eco threats. To doubt it is equivalent to denying the Holocaust. Accepting it and renouncing (but not giving up) the sin of fossil fuel consumption promises to save the world, punish unbelievers and bring about a fair, harmonious, balanced, sustainable restoration of Eden. The fact that every prediction of the climate “experts” has failed and climate itself is cooling is only a test of faith for the true believers.

Sustainable –

Like all the other eco buzz words, this one appears benign until it is examined more closely. As used by the eco-alarmists it is a no brainer. The less any resource is utilised the more sustainable it becomes, so the more restrictions the better. What the urban green non-producers fail to recognise is that sustainability of the industry is also important. Whatever we don’t get from one source becomes an added pressure somewhere else.

The fisheries that Greens are so anxious to close down, have the lowest environmental impact of any means of food production and the health benefits of increased seafood consumption are substantial. The seafood our waters could produce but our fishermen aren’t permitted to catch, sustains only greater costs, human misery and environmental impacts on the land. The 70% of domestic sea food consumption we import and pay for by selling off non-renewable mineral resources sustains only bloated bureaucracy here and overfishing elsewhere.

Behind the Eco-facade

Behind the carefully contrived facade of piety and righteousness the environmental movement is heavily infected with suppurating dishonesty, delusion and perversity. It’s the kind of maladaptive response that animal behaviourists have found may arise when strong instinctual drives are blocked. In this instance it might well be a consequence of the biologically impoverished urban environment compounded by the boredom of a non-productive parasitic lifestyle which affords little purpose or meaning. It’s not unlike the obsessive compulsive neuroticism often observed in animals living in sterile cages.

In most developed nations a large majority of the population now dwell in cities and only a minority toil to produce the goods and services which support everyone. For many urbanites in particular, the natural environment has acquired a distant, romantic, somewhat sacred, status. Though themselves voracious consumers, they are removed from the production which supplies their demands. The producers who provide their needs tend to be seen as greedy exploiters and defilers of nature. Even more ironically, their own lifestyle has virtually annihilated the natural world in a small portion of the environment, yet, that is where they choose to spend their lives.

All over the Western World economies are in trouble with productive activity struggling under a growing burden of bloated government and stifling bureaucracy for which environmentalism has provided a major impetus. In developing nations it has been estimated that as many as 30 million people have been driven into landless poverty as conservation refugees. In the US, UK, Germany and Australia power grids are approaching the threshold of major blackouts as a consequence of a decade long failure to invest in new generating capacity because of uncertainty regarding environmental regulations. Meanwhile hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted on costly, inefficient and unreliable wind and solar farms which produce only trivial amounts of power and no measurable reduction in CO2 emissions.

Without a radical change in direction, declining productivity and competitiveness in the global marketplace may soon make it impossible to maintain our vast urban resource sinks populated by large numbers of non-producers. This modern society which the environmentalists regard with such contempt looks likely to prove far more fragile and delicate than the reefs and forests about which they are so obsessed. Ironically, the sustainability they are so concerned with imposing may ultimately render they themselves and their way of life unsustainable. Even more ironic, in such circumstances their most valuable contribution to Gaia or The Ecology could well be as compost.

Of course, events don’t have to go that way. People do have a remarkable ability to abandon a strongly held belief when it becomes obvious it is costing themselves and not just others. That will be the real test of faith.

Although we all want clean and healthy air, water, and food and few do not appreciate the beauty of nature, achieving this requires knowledge, difficult decisions, costs and some trade-offs. Turning concern for the environment into another ism to serve as an opportunity for know-nothing, do-nothings to indulge in displays of self-righteousness only adds to the difficulty. Those with nothing invested and nothing to contribute but complaint have earned no right to decide.

Signing away our sovereignty to inept and unaccountable UN bureaucrats with a demonstrable track record of failure in their own countries is worse than just stupid or spineless. It is treasonous. As a liberal democracy our government is one that is supposed to be of, by and for the people. It is past time that we the people started to take back our rights and our government from those who have usurped them. It is also time to tell the UN bureaucrats to butt out, go home and deal with their own problems.

Much more HERE

Xena: Rio+20 failed to mention billions of casualties

Lubos Motl has some words about the pontifications of Lucy Lawless, a New Zealand actress best known for playing the title character of the television series Xena: Warrior Princess. Actors make their money speaking words written by others so it probably helps to have a head that is otherwise all but empty

Among many other things I experienced today, my nephew told me about various incredible catastrophes he is going to experience in his lifetime according to everything he is told at school and in the media so I decided to look at some of the sources again.

Before I did so, I also tried to explain to him the gases in the atmosphere, the fate of polar bears, projections on various energy sources in the next 50 years, and other things. But you should have no doubt that Goebbels knew why he said that a 100 times repeated lie becomes a truth. When it comes to repetition, I (and we) just can't compete with the huge industry of propaganda spreading utter insanities about global warming and similar degenerative hardcore pseudoscientific delusions.

Much of this garbage is directed at children and youth – because some people apparently think they're legitimate targets of shameless brainwashing. As Ian Plimer and Václav Klaus said, the main danger of the global warming doctrine is that the children have already been indoctrinated. Even when the adults manage to defeat the hysteria and all the nonsense it has brought with it, we will be living with a kind of a time bomb because this junk has already been hardwired into the brains of the present children who will become adults in the future.

I am sure that many men would self-confidently consider Lucy Lawless as their female counterpart or potential companion – what they would look like and how they would speak if they were female or how their partner could look like. However, she's dumb as a doorknob; it's really unbelievable.

Yesterday, she gave an interview to some New Zealand media. She complained about her surprise that so little was achieved at Rio+20. Well, this is the first sign that she is living outside the reality. Everyone who follows this topic and who has at least traces of sanity had to know that Rio+20 would achieve nothing except for ideological clichés detached from any policymaking that had to be formulated in a totally impotent way because no one really wants to implement any of the psychopathological policies that are recommended by the climate hysteria movement and that would cost trillions of dollars.

Xena, the warrior-turned-"scientist" – doesn't like that the Rio+20 documents don't mention any tipping points and the "calamitous weather events" that will affect "billions of people".

Before a discussion about the billions, it would be interesting to see at least 1 person who has been affected by weather events of the kind that statistically significantly deviate from the weather events that the mankind has known in the previous centuries and millenniums by their intensity or frequency.

In particular, she is worried about all those nations that live in the Arctic. Unless, of course, the Arctic is actually covered by an ocean – the Arctic Ocean where it's pretty difficult for humans to live – plus largely uninhabited parts of the Greenland, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Canada, and the U.S. But I don't want to be too ambitious as a teacher who would plan to explain the concept of the "Arctic Ocean" to Lucy Lawless.

Also, it would probably be foolish to try to explain that it's pretty cold in the Arctic and if some temperature change would make the Arctic less compatible with life, it would be additional cooling, not warming. Needless to say, Lawless believes that one may build lots of new jobs by banning fossil fuels that are "dwindling" – she has probably not heard about tar sands and shale gas yet. But even if the fossil fuels were dwindling, banning them abruptly would surely not help the job market, would it?

But I exploded in laughter when she described the global role of the New Zealand energy industry. New Zealand is lucky to have an electricity industry whose 23% is made of fossil fuels, 0% is made of nuclear energy, and 77% is represented by renewable energy, especially hydropower, partly geothermal power, and – in recent years – wind energy. I say it's lucky because not every country has 24 peaks above 3 kilometers of height (they may give some potential energy to the water for your hydropower plants) much like not every country has oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. For example, Czechia (where hydropower is still the dominant "renewable" source despite the fact that we have also managed to become a solar superpower due to some insane policies of subsidies 2-3 years ago that have already been largely reverted) only has 4 peaks above 1,500 meters of altitude. So we just do need lots of fossil fuels and nuclear power plants, too. Donate us the territory of New Zealand and things may be different. But the landscape does affect what one needs to do to survive – or flourish. But let me return to Lawless' recommendation to the energy industry of her homeland:

We should be selling that energy all over the world! ROTFL. ;-)

To export her hydropower to the U.S., for example, she will have to build 10,000+ kilometers of trans-ocean or superconducting power lines to California. I suspect the construction will be funded by donations to Greenpeace New Zealand. Good luck! She's been active in this kind of business for many years but her knowledge about the real world hasn't yet surpassed the knowledge of an average girl in the kindergarten.

This misunderstanding of the concept of "distance" is pretty typical for the global warming movement, especially because of the adjective "global". The idea is that the planet is a small organism and everything is connected with everything. So if an actor in New Zealand decides to export electricity to California, New Zealand will just place the power lines between California and New Zealand, right? She's used to fly everywhere and it takes a few hours. So it can't possibly be difficult to transfer energy over 11,000 km, either, can it?

In reality, almost nothing is global. The electricity sectors of the continents and, to a large extent, countries are isolated from each other. It's not economically feasible to export hydropower from an isolated island to a different continent. The world is still very large and is composed of lots of regions that live their own local life and don't interact – and can't interact – with each other much. There's no global warming. There's local warming somewhere, local cooling elsewhere, and different places don't give a damn about what's happening elsewhere. (And in most cases, a one-degree temperature changes are irrelevant even for the same places where the change occurs.) Almost everything is local. The laws of physics, quantum field theory, is strictly local. The very idea about a global world that is one whole – something that Lawless has repeated many times as well – is nothing else than an idiocy. There is nothing unified about our planet.

Lawless also screams around 3:50 that a New Zealand female minister blew her mind when she said that their country is doing fine when it comes to the renewable fad. 77% of energy being renewable is not enough for the Princess Warrior. ;-)

It's surely fun to watch personalities like herself – which is why I sometimes do such things – but if you think about the content independently of her fame and appearance, you must cry. You must cry about the intellectual quality – more precisely, the bug-nutty, bat shit craziness – of the people who may actually be considered the world's leading opinionmakers at the beginning of the 21st century, a century that used to be connected by writers of science-fiction novels as well as many others with a rational world based on the omnipresent science and technology. Opinionmakers who shouldn't have been allowed to complete their elementary school (if not the kindergarten) because they demonstrably lack the knowledge that the elementary school should teach everyone.

If we don't look at the increasingly squeezed and harassed – yet still amazingly efficient and progressing – industry and we look at the general culture, we must conclude that most of the science-fiction writers were just wrong when they were writing about the years right after 2000. Instead of a futuristic world, most of the mankind is returning to the Middle Ages, being led by bug-nutty, bat shit crazy crackpots and witches such as Lucy Lawless.

It's sad, it's scary, but it's the memo.


Reviewing the writings of HH Lamb, an eminent climatologist who wrote before the global warming religion took hold

By Paul Homewood

Hubert Lamb was one of the leading climatologists of his time, indeed described in one obituary as the greatest. He spent most of his career at the UK Met Office before founding and becoming the first director of the Climatic Research Unit. He wrote many books, but perhaps “Climate: Present , Past & Future” was the most significant. Here we review Volume 2, amounting to 836 pages, which particularly looks at climatic trends over the centuries.

Originally published in 1977, the volume offers great insights into the thinking not only of Lamb himself, but also of many of his peers. Not only does Lamb give us the benefit of his own work and experience, but much of his research is into work carried out by a host of other scientists of his time and earlier.

Everything that follows is based on Lamb’s writings in this volume; any comments of mine will be within [ brackets ]. I would also point out that sections in italics are direct quotations from the book.

Climate during the Holocene

The Holocene begins around 10000 BC, at the end of the last Ice Age, and continues to the present. In this section, we will look at the period leading up to the Medieval Warming Period.

How did temperatures in this first part of Holocene compare with today’s and what confidence can we have in their accuracy and extent? Lamb presents a good deal of evidence to suggest that, for much of the period, temperatures were warmer than now. For instance he presents much evidence from glaciers.

It was after 2000-1500 BC that most of the present glaciers in the Rocky Mountains south of  57 o N were formed and that major re-advance of those in the Alaskan Rockies first took place.

And at their subsequent advanced positions – probably around 500 BC as well as between 1650 and 1850 AD – the glaciers in the Alps regained an extent, estimated in the Glockner region, at about 5 times their Bronze Age Minimum, when all the smaller ones had disappeared.

Treeline studies, including Southern Hemisphere sites, paint a similar picture. Quoting a study by Markgraf in 1974, which encompassed the Alps, Carpathians, Rockies, Japan, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, East Africa and the Andes, Lamb writes :-

Summer temperatures in these regions were 2 C higher than now in the warmest postglacial times (around 5000 BC).

He then quotes a similar study by Lamarche in 1973:-

Study of the Upper Tree Line on the White Mountains in California, similarly indicates warm season temperatures about 2C higher than today all through the warmest millenia, from before 5500 BC until about 2200 BC.

[Many recent studies in Baffin Bay, Greenland and Iceland come to similar conclusions, i.e. that for much of the Holocene, temperatures were higher than now and also that the Little Ice Age was probably the coldest period in the last 10000 years.]

What about the cooler periods Lamb mentions?

He describes this as the “Sub Atlantic Period” from about 1000 BC.

Glacier advances, changes in the composition of the forests, and the retreat of the forest from its previous northern and upper limits, indicate significant cooling of world climates, its start being detectable in some places (e.g. Alaska, Chile, China) from as early as 1500 BC.

In Europe, the most marked change seems to have been from 1200-700 BC. By 700-500 BC, prevailing temperatures must have been about 2.0C lower than they had been half a millenium earlier, and there was a great increase of wetness everywhere north of the Alps.

Another aspect of the centuries of colder climate around 500 BC in NW Europe was evidently their storminess. There was perhaps a final climax of the first of these epochs of marked storminess in the great North Sea storm, or storms, about 120-114 BC, which altered the coasts of Jutland and NW Germany in a great sea flood, “The Cymbrian Flood”, which set off the migration of the Celtic (Cymbrian) and Teutonic peoples who had been living in these areas.

The probable course of prevailing temperatures in Europe and the Far East has been presented in Fig 16.22. [Not shown]. In both regions, the last few centuries BC register some general rise in temperature, representing a recovery from the coldest conditions of the onset of the Sub Atlantic climatic period, which had culminated in great glacier advances in the Alps (HEUBERGER 1968), at various times between about 900 and 300 BC, and apparently a lower snowline in the high mountains of Lebanon and elsewhere in the Near East and Equatorial Africa.

Lamb goes on to describe how temperatures recovered in the period leading up to the MWP.

There was a gradual fluctuating recovery of warmth in Europe over the 1000 years after 600 BC, particularly after 100 BC, leading to a period of warmth and apparently high sea level around 400 AD. [We would recognise this as the Roman Warming Period].

The Roman agricultural writer, Saserna, wrote that in the last century BC, cultivation of the olive and vine were spreading further north in Italy, where in the previous century, winters had been too cold for transplants to survive (WARNER ALLEN 1961).

After some reversion to colder and wetter climates in the next 300-400 years, sharply renewed warming from about 800 AD led to an important warm epoch.

Medieval Warming Period

Lamb had no doubt that the MWP was real and global.

Evidence already cited at various places in this volume suggests that, for a few centuries in the Middle Ages, the climate in most parts of the world regained something approaching the warmth of the warmest postglacial times.

He cites many examples in Europe and North America which indicate warmer temperatures than now.

  • The northern limit of vineyards with a long history of cultivation lay some 300-500 km north of the limit of commercial vineyards in the 20thC.
  • In many parts of England there are traces of medieval tillage far above anything attempted in the present century, even in wartime: up to 350 m above sea level on Dartmoor and 320 m in Northumberland.
  • The tree line and upper limits of various crops on the hills of Central Europe were higher than today.
  • Mining operations at high levels in the Alps which had long been abandoned were reopened, and water supply ducts were built to take water from points which were subsequently overrun by glaciers and are in some cases still under ice.
  • In Central Norway the area of farming spread 100-200m up valleys and hillsides from 800 – 1000 AD, only to retreat just as decisively after 1300 AD.
  • The Viking colonies in W and SW Greenland were able to bury their dead sheep in soil that has since been permanently frozen.
  • It was also a warm period generally from N Mexico to N Canada, where forest remnants between 25 and 100 km north of the present limit have been found, radio carbon dated between 880 and 1140 AD.

[Recent studies, that have found evidence that Alaskan glaciers were smaller in the MWP than now, tie in with this North American conclusion.]

But as Lamb makes clear, the warming was not limited to the Northern Hemisphere.

  • Holloway (1954) has reported evidence from the forest composition of a warmer climate in South Island, New Zealand, between about 700 AD and 1400 AD, than in the centuries before and after.
  • On the coast of East Antarctica, at Cape Hallett, a great modern penguin rookery seems, from radiocarbon dating tests, to have been first colonised between about 400 and 700 AD, presumably during a phase of improving climate, and to have been occupied ever since.

Little Ice Age

Lamb has this to say about the extent of the LIA.

The period we are discussing has been dubbed “The Little Ice Age” because, not only in Europe but in most parts of the world, the extent of snow and ice on land and sea seems to have attained a maximum as great as, or in most cases greater than, at any time since the last major ice age.

Lamb also recognises that there were timing differences between the two hemispheres when he points out

On the whole the culmination seems to have come earlier in the NH, particularly in N America, the Arctic and China/Japan, and later in the SH, where the maximum advance of the glaciers in Chile seems to have been in the 18thC and the greatest extent of ice on the Antarctic Ocean may have been as late as around 1900.

There was, however, an important late climax of the Arctic sea ice around Iceland between 1780 and 1830, and many glaciers in the Alps reached their greatest extent towards 1850.

He sums this period up very well.

The course of the climatic deterioration over 500 years from 1200 AD can quite well be traced by its effects under the following headings.

  1. Increasing spread of the Arctic sea ice into all the northernmost Atlantic and around Greenland, forcing the abandonment of the old sailing routes to Greenland, which had been used from 1000-1300 AD.
  2. Advances of the inland ice and permafrost in Greenland and of glaciers in Iceland, Norway and the Alps.
  3. Lowering of the treeline on the heights in Central Europe and the Rockies.
  4. Increasing wetness of the ground and spread of lakes and marshes in many places in North, West and Central Europe, and all over Northern Russia and Siberia.
  5. Increasing frequency of the freezing of rivers and lakes.
  6. Evidence of increasing severity of the windstorms and resulting sea floods and disasters by shifting sand.
  7. In the records of harvest failure.
  8. In the records and archaeology of abandoning crop growing, tillage and vineyards, abandoned farms and villages.
  9. In the incidence of disease and death among human and animal populations.

As to the causes, Lamb explains

It is reasonable to consider the whole sequence, from about the time of Christ, through the early medieval warm centuries and the cold climate that followed, to our own times, as an oscillation on the same time scale, and possibly of basically the same nature, as the Bolling & Allerod oscillations in Late Glacial Times, the Piora oscillation [around 3000 BC], and the Bronze Age and early Iron Age changes in the last 4000 years.


Australia: Meatworks may shut Queensland plant for three weeks to avoid carbon tax

A MAJOR meatworks could shut one of its Queensland plants for three weeks to side-step a carbon tax bill expected to cost millions.

Teys Australia Meat Group is one of 295 names on a preliminary list of companies to be slugged the $23 a tonne carbon tax from July 1 after its carbon emissions were estimated as being above the threshold of 25,000 tonnes a year.

The group, which has its head office in Beenleigh, south of Brisbane, was expecting its carbon tax bill to exceed $2 million a year.

But the meat processor could dodge part of the bill by closing down its second-biggest plant at Beenleigh for several weeks to reduce its annual emissions at the location to just below the Government's 25,000 tonne tax threshold.

It is believed other meatworks with emissions above the threshold could also be considering temporary shut-downs to avoid the tax.

"We could close this plant for a period of time in the year - one or two weeks - and therefore our total emissions for the year would potentially be below 25,000 (tonnes)," Teys spokesman Tom Maguire said.

"We are talking to the Government about ways of avoiding that but to this date we haven't come to any resolution.

"Given some of our competitors don't have the same tax, we won't be able to pass the costs on."

The company will also pay a carbon tax on emissions from its Rockhampton plant but says a temporary closure there was not an option.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the Government's $1 billion Clean Technology Program provided grants for new equipment and technology to reduce emissions.

The potential shutdown comes as Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan moves to reassure voters that carbon tax compensation will reach much higher up the income threshold than people realised.

New Treasury analysis reveals half of all families earning up to $150,000 a year will be over-compensated for the carbon tax, with tax cuts and welfare changes equivalent to 120 per cent of the expected cost.

But it might not stretch as far in Queensland as other states, with residents here facing a $3.70 a week rise in electricity prices directly related to the carbon tax.

That compares with a rise of $3.30 a week in NSW, $2.48 a week in Tasmania and $2.50 a week in Western Australia.

Prices will rise by double those amounts in some states but those increases are not as a direct result of the carbon tax.



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1 comment:

slktac said...

Lucy Lawless may garner children to follow her new, but when their social networking and IPads and iPhone go silent to "save the planet", they're probably going to be more inclined to dress her as Xena and set her free in the outback on a horse. Nothing dampens idealism like a good smack of reality......