Friday, August 16, 2013

Rapid Cooling Triggered Bronze-Age Collapse And Greek Dark Age

Of course the politically correct verbiage is “climate change.”

Between the 13th and 11th centuries BCE, most Greek Bronze Age Palatial centers were destroyed and/or abandoned throughout the Near East and Aegean, says this paper by Brandon L. Drake.

A sharp increase in Northern Hemisphere temperatures preceded the wide-spread systems collapse, while a sharp decrease in temperatures occurred during their abandonment. (Neither of which, I am sure – the increase or the decrease – were caused by humans.)

Mediterranean Sea surface temperatures cooled rapidly during the Late Bronze Age, limiting freshwater flux into the atmosphere and thus reducing precipitation over land, says Drake, of the Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico.

This cooling and ensuing aridity could have affected areas that were dependent upon high levels of agricultural productivity. The resulting crop declines would have made higher-density populations unsustainable.

Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP2) Temperature (top line; Alley, 2004) and a 20-point moving average of Solar Irradiance (bottom line; Steinhilber et al., 2009) for the past5000 years. A large increase and sharp decrease in Northern Hemisphere temperatures occurred during the LBA Collapse (a). Similar (albeit smaller) temperature decreasesterminated the Roman Warm Period (b) and Medieval Warm Period (c). Low solar irradiance, periods typified by low sunspot activity, are associated with cooler SSTs. Low solarirradiance occurred during the Greek Dark Ages (d), potentially contributing to continued low SSTs. This period of low solar irradiance is comparable to the more well knownMaunder Minimum (e).

Eastern Mediterranean sea surface temperatures (SST) as indicated by alkenone temperatures and warm-species formanifera. A drop of SST can indicate lower levels of evaporation, which in turn indicate less precipitation. The Ionian Sea (top line;Emeis et al., 2000) dropped by 4 deg C following the LBA Collapse (a). Temperatures returned to theirpre-LBA Collapse levels during the Roman Warm Period (b). A drop of 3 deg C during the Medieval Warm Period (c) occurs as well. Adriatic SST (second line; Sangiorni et al., 2003) dropped 1-2 deg C after the LBA Collapse (a), however a 25% reduction in Adriatic warm-species dinocysts (third line; Sangiorni et al., 2003) before the LBA Collapse (a) suggests cooling may have been rapid and severe. A similar decline in warm-species formanifera in the Aegean Sea (last line;  Rohling et al., 2002) at the same time suggests signifi cantlycooler waters as well. Dark shading around lines represents 95% confidence bands

Indeed, studies of data from the Mediterranean indicate that the Early Iron Age was more arid than the preceding Bronze Age. The prolonged arid conditions – a centuries-long mega drought, if you will –  lasted until the Roman Warm Period.

Those four centuries – known as the ‘Greek Dark Ages’ – were typified by low population levels, rural settlements, population migration, and limited long-distance trade.

The Late Bronze Age collapse is associated with the loss of writing systems such as Linear B, and the extinction of Hatti as both a written and spoken language. Writing and literacy do not return to the Aegean until the end of the ‘Greek Dark Ages’ in 8th century BCE with the spread of the Phoenecian alphabet.

The collapse of Palatial Civilization occurred in different places at different times. Many of these destructions have been attributed to human-causes. (We love to blame humans for climate-driven circumstances, don’t we?) Large population migrations took place, most famously with the incursions of the ‘Sea Peoples’ into the Nile Delta and the Levant.

In Egypt, several inscriptions detailed wars with ‘Sea People’ beginning in the reign of Ramses II (1279-1213 BCE). While population movements of the ‘Sea People’ were better documented in Egypt and the Levant, they have been tied to destabilization of the Aegean region as well.

The ensuing economic decline resulted in the widespread dissolution of governments. Once the governments were dissolved it was impossible to reestablish a central authority.

While economic collapse continues to be the dominant theory for the collapse of Palatial Civilization in the Bronze Age, climatic/environmental explanations have also been proposed. (I think the climate conditions triggered the economic collapse, of course.)

Conditions improve following the introduction of iron tools, and accelerate at the beginning of the Roman Warm Period at 350 BCE, says Drake.

Wouldn’t this make it appear that warmer climates are good for civilization? And that cooler climates can lead to systems collapse?

I’m thinking that our leaders are sorely mislead.


Apples losing their crunch to global warming: study

Generalizing from two orchards in Japan is not science.  Control groups?  Local climate factors?

GLOBAL warming is causing apples to lose some of their crunch but is also making them sweeter, a study has found.

Analysing data gathered from 1970 to 2010 at two orchards in Japan, a research team said there was clear evidence that climate change was having an effect on apple taste and texture.

"All such changes may have resulted from earlier blooming and higher temperatures" during the growth season, they wrote in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

About 60 million tonnes of apples are produced every year, making it the world's third most popular fruit.

Previous studies had shown that global warming was causing apple trees to flower later, and that harvests were also affected by changes in rainfall and air temperature.

The orchards used in the study produce the Fuji and Tsugaru apples, the two most popular kinds in the world.

The farms are located in Japan's Nagano and Aomori prefectures, which had seen a mean air temperature rise of 0.31 and 0.34 degrees Celsius, respectively, per decade. The orchards were chosen because there had been no changes in cultivars or management practices for extended periods, thus ruling out non-climate factors like technological improvements in the apple change.

The data collected over the years included measures of acid and sugar concentration, fruit firmness and watercore - a disease that causes water-soaked areas in the flesh of an apple.

The analysis showed a decrease in acidity, firmness and watercore, but a rise in sugar concentration over time.

"We think that a sweeter apple is a positive thing and a loss of firmness is a negative thing," study co-author Toshihiko Sugiura of the National Institute of Fruit Tree Science in Fujimoto told AFP.

"We think most people like sweet and firm apple fruits, although everyone has his own taste. A soft apple is called 'Boke' in Japanese which means a dull or senile fruit."

The study said that the results "suggest that the taste and textural attributes of apples in the market are undergoing change from a long-term perspective, even though consumers might not perceive these subtle change."

The research claims to be the first to measure changes in the taste and texture of food as a result of climate change.


Do you suffer from 'chemophobia'? Expert claims we have an 'irrational fear' of man-made chemicals - and that natural ISN'T necessarily better

Do you only eat organic food and think microwave meals are 'toxic'?  If so, you could be suffering from chemophobia - an 'irrational' fear of chemicals - and missing out on nutrients found in modern food.

U.S. researchers have warned that instead of avoiding pesticides and dioxins, people should be more concerned about natural bacteria, fungi and pathogens.

They found millions of people are scared of eating unnatural substances, but low doses of natural and synthetic chemicals used in meals pose no risk to people's health.

The report, by Dartmouth College in the U.S. which is published in the journal Food Security, argues that low doses of chemicals in modern meals are 'typically harmless and highly beneficial.'

It also says that the word 'chemical' has unfairly negative connotations.

Study author and chemistry professor Gordon Gribble, said: 'Most people don't know they are routinely exposed to a host of compounds in non-toxic concentrations in what they eat and drink each day.

'Even the air they breathe – whether in big cities or the countryside -- is full of naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals, including wine 'aroma,' flower 'bouquet,' perfume 'fragrance,' bakery 'smell' and the 'stench' of rubbish bins.'

However, he said the chemicals are not inhaled in a large enough quantities to affect humans' health.

Many of the same compounds found in pesticides are made naturally by plants, animals and humans 'for their own defensive purposes,' according to Professor Gribble.
low doses of chemicals in modern meals are 'typically harmless and highly beneficial'

The report, by Dartmouth College in the U.S. argues low doses of chemicals in modern meals are 'typically harmless and highly beneficial.' It also says the word 'chemical' has unfairly negative connotations

Professor Gribble cited the example of halogen compounds, which many people - even many scientists - assume are all uniquely man-made poisons found in dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the pesticide DDT.

But he said thousands of halogen compounds are part of our natural environment made by plants, animals and even humans for their own defensive purposes.

Some species even use organohalogens, which contain carbon along with chlorine, bromine, iodine or fluorine, to mount chemical offensives against encroaching competitors.
The report says that some beneficial chemicals are found in modern food

While the report says that some beneficial chemicals are found in modern food, it does not suggest swapping fresh vegetables for microwave meals but instead eating a varied diet to avoid exposure to harmful concentrations of chemicals

He said: 'Food regulators should focus not on pesticides, antibiotics and dioxins but on pathogens, bacteria and fungi, which each year cause millions of cases of food-borne infections in the United States that result in hospitalisation or death.'

Professor Gribble recommends that people eat  'a diverse diet to minimise their exposure to harmful concentrations of chemicals.'

He said food is peppered with natural compounds such as organohalogens, dioxins, aflatoxins and many others.

'Food is chemistry beyond our immediate control, including those synthetic chemicals that are deemed to be artificial and should not be found in 'safe' food.  'The word 'chemical' became a dirty word despite the fact that everything we see, smell and touch is chemical.'


Energy Manipulation

Walter E. Williams

Why is it that natural gas sells in the U.S. for $3.94 per 1,000 cubic feet and in Europe and Japan for $11.60 and $17, respectively? Part of the answer is our huge supply. With high-tech methods of extraction and with discovery of vast gas-rich shale deposits, estimated reserves are about 2.4 quadrillion cubic feet. That translates into more than a 100-year supply of natural gas at current usage rates. What partially explains the high European and Japanese prices is the fact that global natural gas markets are not integrated. Washington has stringent export restrictions on natural gas.

Naturally, the next question is: Why are there natural gas export restrictions? Just follow the money. According to, The Dow Chemical Co. "posted record lobbying expenditures last year, spending nearly $12 million, and is on pace to eclipse that number this year." The company has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars contributing to the political campaigns of congressmen who support export restrictions. Natural gas is a raw material for Dow. It benefits financially from cheap gas prices, which it fears would rise if Congress were to lift export restrictions. Dow argues, "Continuing optimism for U.S. manufacturing is founded on the prospect of an adequate, reliable and reasonably priced supply of natural gas." Of course, Dow and other big users of natural gas get support from environmentalists, who are anti-drilling and anticipate that export restrictions will serve their ends.

Big natural gas users and environmentalists have foreign allies, suggested by the statement of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who told Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, that rising American shale gas production is "an inevitable threat." Nigeria's oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, agrees, saying that U.S. shale oil is a "grave concern." In light of these foreign "concerns" about U.S. energy production, one wonders whether foreign countries have given financial aid to U.S. politicians, environmentalists and other groups that are waging war against domestic oil and natural gas drilling. It would surely be in their interests to do everything in their power to keep the West dependent on OPEC nations for oil and gas.

Natural gas producers would like to export some of their product to Europe and Japan to take advantage of higher prices. One effect of those exports would be to raise natural gas prices in the U.S. and lower them in the recipient countries. Industrial giants such as Dow, Alcoa, Celanese and Nucor are members of America's Energy Advantage, a lobby group that says it is unpatriotic to allow unlimited natural gas exports. It argues that export restrictions keep natural gas prices low and give U.S. manufacturing companies a raw material advantage, which allows them to produce goods at lower prices.

I'd like to ask Dow, Alcoa and other companies that lobby against natural gas exports whether their argument applies to them. After all, they ship a lot of their domestic product overseas. For example, Alcoa exports tons of aluminum. Export restrictions on aluminum would lower domestic aluminum prices, thereby benefiting the aircraft industry, as well as making other aluminum-using manufacturers more competitive. Unfortunately, I doubt whether Alcoa would see it that way. In general, it is poor economic policy to encourage domestic American industry through costly and inefficient methods such as export restrictions.

But there's another effect of the natural gas export restrictions. The huge supply and resulting low prices have begun to act as a deterrent to future energy exploration and production. According to a Wall Street Journal article by Dr. Thomas Tunstall, research director for the Institute for Economic Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio, titled "Exporting Natural Gas Will Stabilize U.S. Prices" (May 29, 2013), natural gas production at three major shale oil fields in Texas has flattened out at 2012 output levels.

Tunstall concludes, "Over the long haul, market dynamics -- which include the ability to export without undue uncertainty or restriction -- will best manage global supply and demand curves for natural gas." I agree.


'Most transparent administration ever' keeps carbon tax plans secret

When "the Most Transparent Administration in History" doesn't want you to know something, you will not find out about whatever it is without a lot of work.

A year ago, the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed two Freedom of Information Act requests with the Department of Treasury to obtain documents describing its thoughts, plans and collaborators on building support for a carbon tax.

CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner had heard the Obama administration might go in this direction after its attempt to enact a cap-and-trade scheme failed a second time in Congress.

Specifically, CEI sought documents from Treasury's Office of Legislative Affairs and its environment and energy office, which would likely administer a carbon tax should one be enacted.

It took from August 2012 to March 2013 just to get Treasury to agree that, first, CEI had a right to the documents under the federal Freedom of Information Act; two, CEI should not be charged for them; and, three, the 13,000 documents would be produced on a monthly schedule from April through August.

At first, Treasury tried to charge CEI $1,800 to photocopy the documents, even though they already were in electronic form and CEI specifically requested them in that form.

So, August 2013 is shaping up as a big month for document production at Treasury. That's because, so far, Treasury has turned over just 329 responsive documents -- and that's counting each page as its own document, even though some of the documents go on for several pages.

There has been a lot of whining and excuse-making along the way. Treasury has claimed the search term "carbon" is too broad. Staffers in the Most Transparent Administration in History are trained -- yes, trained, CEI learned in another email we uncovered -- to claim things are "overbroad" just to muck up the process.

Fine, said CEI. Look only for uses likely to come up in the work of an office established to distribute revenues from a carbon tax -- "carbon tax," "carbon levy," "carbon fee," "carbon charge," "carbon cap," "price on carbon" or "tax on carbon."

That changes everything, Treasury said. There are far fewer documents that respond to the narrowed request. How many? We'll get back to you.

Given the response from Treasury and from the Environmental Protection Agency whenever Obama efforts to push a carbon tax are probed, it seems obvious something is amiss.

On another FOIA front, CEI has been pursuing what top EPA officials had to say about carbon, carbon taxes and the war on coal. In that case, EPA agreed to turn over 12,000 emails in four tranches of 3,000 each.

The agency eventually provided 9,600 -- including a lot of useless information, such as the daily Washington Post headlines. Nearly all the substantive emails were redacted to a comical degree.

And, curiously, Gina McCarthy, EPA's new administrator but then head of the Air and Radiation Office, had almost nothing to say to her senior EPA colleagues about carbon, carbon taxes and the war on coal despite the fact coal is a major factor in regulating air pollution.

So how did she communicate with her boss and other top staffers? Text messages, we learned. She was often seen texting during congressional hearings. So, CEI requested her phone records for the 18 days she was known to have appeared before Congress. EPA said it had no responsive records.

No, wait, EPA says. She did text. But all the texts -- every single one -- on her government-issued PDA, which she is supposed to use at least primarily for work, were personal messages to family members.

How was that determined? Did someone look at her government-issued, taxpayer-paid phone and officially verify that none of those messages were agency records, which she is required by law to retain?

It's impossible to say. Treasury and EPA aren't giving up the details -- to CEI, other organizations or even members of Congress. And nobody in the Most Transparent Administration In History seems to care.


About the effect of the UK's shale gas on prices

by Tim Worstall

I find myself entirely jaws agape at one of the arguments being used against the exploitation of shale gas in the UK. Roughly expressed here it's that because it won't move prices very much then we shouldn't bother to do it.

The heart of the argument is that because we're all tied into the Great European Gas Market then whatever amount of shale we drill up in the UK will only be a small part of the GEGM. Stuff that comes up from under Blackpool will be piped off to Lodz for example, and thus prices really won't move very much. Something which I'm perfectly willing to believe by the way: the addition of a small amount of marginal supply to a vast market won't in fact move prices very much. Indeed, there's one report out there (by Poryry) that states it will move prices by only 4%.

4% isn't worth it so let's not frack our Green and Pleasant land then.

Leave aside the technical arguments (about LNG, pipeline capacity etc) about why this might not be entirely true. Think instead about what the basic statement being made here is.

They're actually saying that all gas in Europe, for all European consumers, will be 4% lower as a result of fracking Lancashire. That's 500 million people save 4% of their power bills (yes, the reports do indeed say that electricity will be cheaper as well given the use of gas to generate it).

Let's, very roughly, try to work this out. 500 million people is perhaps 150 million households. A UK duel fuel bill for a household for a year is £1,200 or so I believe. 4% of that is £50. Yes, many estimations in those numbers. But lowering gas prices for all European households thus saves those households some £7,500,000,000 a year. That's real money even when talking about things governmental.

Fracking Lancashire makes the households of Europe £7.5 billion better off.  Per year.

A little bit of money saved by lots of people is lots of money.

Now, the only counter-argument to this is that in fact the gas we frack won't be perfectly transportable and substituitable for the domestic supplies of Naples, Wroslaw and Lisbon. Which is also something I'm prepared to believe. In which case that tiny marginal addition to supply for all of Europe becomes a much larger additional supply to that part of Europe (say, perhaps, the UK alone) where gas really is perfectly transportable and substituitable. And a larger additional supply relative to market size will drive down prices further.

This is why I'm jaws agape. Their argument is either that lots of people will benefit a bit or that few people will benefit a lot. Either way, it's billions in benefit. This is an argument being used against fracking?




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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