Monday, July 27, 2020

More evidence of the Roman warm period:  Warmer than now

The Mediterranean Sea was 3.6°F (2°C) hotter during the Roman Empire than other average temperatures at the time, a new study claims.

The Empire coincided with a 500-year period, from AD 1 to AD 500, that was the warmest period of the last 2,000 years in the almost completely land-locked sea. 

The climate later progressed towards colder and arid conditions that coincided with the historical fall of the Empire, scientists claim.

Spanish and Italian researchers recorded ratios of magnesium to calcite taken from skeletonized amoebas in marine sediments, an indicator of sea water temperatures, in the Sicily Channel.

They say the warmer period may have also coincided with the shift from the Roman Republic to the great Empire founded by Octavius Augustus in 27 BC. 

The study offers 'critical information' to identify past interactions between climate changes and evolution of human societies and 'their adaptive strategies'.

It meets requests from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess the impact of historically warmer conditions between 2.7°F and 3.6°F (1.5°C to 2°C). 

However, the historical warming of the Med during the Roman Empire is linked to intense solar activity, which contrasts with the modern threat of greenhouse gases. 

'For the first time, we can state the Roman period was the warmest period of time of the last 2,000 years, and these conditions lasted for 500 years,' said Professor Isabel Cacho at the Department of Earth and Ocean Dynamics, University of Barcelona.

The Mediterranean is a semi-closed sea, meaning it is surrounded by land and almost only connected to oceans by a narrow outlet, and is a climate change 'hot spot' according to a previous paper.

Situated between North Africa and European climates, the sea occupies a 'transitional zone', combining the arid zone of the subtropical high and humid northwesterly air flows.

This makes it extremely vulnerable to modern and past climate changes, such as changes in precipitation change and average surface air temperature, and is of 'particular interest' to researchers.

Home to many civilisations over the years, the Med, or Mare Nostrum as it was known by ancient Roman civilisations, has become a model to study the periods of climate variation.

Reconstructing previous millennia of sea surface temperatures and how it evolved is challenging, due to the difficulty retrieving good resolution marine records.

However, the study of the fossil archives remains the only valid tool to reconstruct past environmental and climatic changes as far back as 2,000 years ago, they say.

Turning to another method, experts analysed the ratios of magnesium to calcite taken from samples of single-celled protists called foraminifera, which are found in all marine environments.

In particular, the species Globigerinoides ruber, present in marine sediments, is an indicator of sea water temperatures.

Researchers took the skeletonised G. ruber sampled from a depth of 1,500 feet (475m) located in the northwestern part of the Sicily Channel.

It was recovered during a 2014 oceanographic expedition on board the RV CNR-Urania research vessel. 

These unicellular organisms, part of the marine zooplankton, have a specific habitat limited to the surface layers of the water column.

'Therefore, the chemical analysis of its carbonated skeleton allows us to reconstruct the evolution of the temperature of the surface water mass over time,' said Professor Cacho. 

Compared to the subsequent period of the Roman Empire, the Mediterranean was characterised by a colder phase from around 500 BC to 200 BC.

This corresponds with the beginning of the so-called 'sub-Atlantic phase' characterised by a cool climate and rainy winters which was favourable for Greek and Roman civilisations to grow crops.

The cool and humid climate of the sub-Atlantic phase lasted until around 100 BC and covered the entire period of the monarchy in Rome.

However, in 400 BC, cultural changes were synchronised across the Mediterranean region and more 'homogeneous' temperature conditions across the Med regions were established.

A distinct warming phase, running from AD 1 to AD 500, then coincided with the Roman Period and covered the whole Roman Empire archaeological period.

'This pronounced warming during the Roman Period is almost consistent with other marine records from Atlantic Ocean,' the team say in their research paper, published in Scientific Reports. 

This climate phase corresponds to what is known as the 'Roman Climatic Optimum' characterised by prosperity and expansion of the Empire, giving warmth and sunlight to crops.

Roman Climatic Optimum, a phase of warm stable temperatures across much of the Mediterranean heartland, covers the whole phase of origin and expansion of the Roman Empire.

The greatest time of the Roman Empire coincided with the warmest period of the last 2,000 years in the Mediterranean.

After the Roman Period, a general cooling trend developed in the region with several minor oscillations in temperature.

The climate then transitioned from wet to arid conditions and this could have marked the decline of the golden period of the Roman Empire after AD 500. 

These new record correlated with data from other areas of the Mediterranean – the Alboran Sea, Menorca basin and Aegean Sea.

'We hypothesise the potential link between this Roman Climatic Optimum and the expansion and subsequent decline of the Roman Empire.'

The study provides high resolution and precision data on how the temperatures evolved over the last 2,000 years in the Mediterranean area. 


Climate change: Democratic alarmism leads to failing policies

Climate change needs to be addressed but the Democrats' plan is alarmist and not going to save the planet. We need to weigh costs and benefits of climate action.

Bjorn Lomborg

Over the past few decades, climate change has been cast in ever more apocalyptic terms. A new global survey shows that almost half the world’s population and about 4 of 10 Americans believe global warming will likely lead to the extinction of the human race.

Incessantly claiming the end of the world is near is simply unbridled alarmism and untethered to the actual research presented by the UN Climate Panel. However, such scare scenarios are ideal for politicians; they can promise to save the world, and they can leave the substantial bill to future election cycles.

Democrats' action plan for climate change

In this context, House Democrats have joined a long list of prominent global politicians across the last decades who promise to fix global warming, outlined in a 538 page Congressional Action Plan. Among many other proposals, it promises no new gasoline cars by 2035, ending fossil fuels in the power sector by 2040, and reducing the net emissions from the U.S. to zero by 2050. Appropriately, speaker Nancy Pelosi capped her presentation by promising the plan would be “saving the planet.”

It might seem odd to be discussing climate change in the midst of a global pandemic. However, the Democrats point out that climate, not corona or the recession, is the “essential crisis of our time” as it threatens devastating health and economic consequences.

Yes, climate change is a real challenge that we need to tackle smartly. But suggesting it is an “existential threat” to human existence, as Joe Biden frequently claims, causes us to panic and make poor decisions. Instead, we need to weigh costs and benefits of climate action.

When the Democrats claim that climate change is worsening the impacts of extreme storms, droughts, and flooding, they are mostly wrong. Peer-reviewed research clearly shows that neither landfalling hurricanes nor strong landfalling hurricanes in the U.S. have become more frequent since 1900. The 2017 National Climate Assessment even states that “drought has decreased over much of the continental United States.” It also concludes that flooding, which has increased in some places and decreased elsewhere, cannot be connected to climate change.

While costs from disasters are increasing, this is overwhelmingly because more people with more valuables live closer to harm’s way. For instance, the coastal population in Florida has increased 67-fold since 1900, with each family living in more expensive houses. A hurricane hitting Florida today will, therefore, create much more financial damage than a similar hurricane 120 years ago. Thus, helping future generations avoid costly hurricane damage is about better building codes, restricting siting in vulnerable areas, and providing residents with more information.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t real benefits to cutting emissions, but they are dramatically lower than what the Democrats suggest. The UN Climate Panel shows that the total negative impact of climate change in half a century will be equivalent to a reduction in annual incomes of between 0.2 and 2%. As it expects the average person in 50 years to be 363% richer than today, that means with global warming the average person will grow 356% richer. That is a problem, but not the end of the world.

The costs of cutting emissions

Unfortunately and glaringly, the Democratic plan contains no cost estimates, despite its intention to fundamentally restructure the growth engine of the U.S. Only one nation — New Zealand — has been bold enough to request an independent cost estimate of cutting emissions to zero by 2050. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research found that the optimistic cost would reduce GDP by a whopping 16% each year by 2050. Translated to the projected U.S. GDP in 2050, this would imply a cost of at least $5 trillion in today’s money. Not just once, but every year. That is more than the entire pre-Covid-19 annual federal spending of $4.5 trillion.

Needless to say, spending 16% or more to avoid part of a 2% problem is a bad deal. But Democrats are not alone. Many countries have made spectacular promises to cut emissions and failed. The UN, in a surprisingly honest review, says that despite all the good intentions from the Obama administration and other countries, actual global emissions look similar to a hypothetical world which had made no climate policies since 2005.

And cutting emissions is hard. The corona epidemic has created a dramatic recession, yet it will likely reduce U.S. 2020 emissions by just 7 to 11%. To get to zero would require ten or more lock-downs every year. This will be phenomenally expensive and politically impossible.

That is why Democrats — and all of us — should focus more on solutions that will actually be effective and realistic. Currently, cutting emissions is costly and involves subsidizing inefficient solar, wind, and electric cars. Rich countries can afford a little, though none can afford to dramatically switch.

But if we invest much more into green research and development, we can innovate the price of future green energy below fossil fuels. Then everyone will switch.

Claiming climate change is our biggest challenge is a false alarm. Proposing unrealistic and extremely expensive policies is unhelpful. The Democrats are correct to emphasize we need climate policies, but the policies must be smart.


NY Times Doubles Down on Fake Guatemala Crop Failures

In an article published this morning and sitting atop Google News searches for “climate change,” the New York Times claims climate change is the primary reason people are leaving Guatemala and unlawfully entering the United States. According to the Times’ article, titled “The Great Climate Migration,” drought and extreme weather events are making it impossible for Guatemala farmers to continue making a living. In reality, objective crop data show farms in Guatemala are doing better than ever. Climate change is reducing the pressure on Guatemalans to flee their failing nation-state, even with rampant crime, corruption, gang activity, and violence.

The author of the Times article, Abrahm Lustgarten, writes, “Last summer, I went to Central America to learn how people like Jorge will respond to changes in their climates. I followed the decisions of people in rural Guatemala and their routes to the region’s biggest cities, then north through Mexico to Texas. I found an astonishing need for food and witnessed the ways competition and poverty among the displaced broke down cultural and moral boundaries.”

If Guatemalans are lacking food, it is certainly not because of climate change or crop failures. According to official crop data compiled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as shown in the graph below, Guatemalan crop production is continuing a history of long-term growth. Guatemala crop yields per acre are currently:

double what they were in 1970 – 50 years of global warming ago
50% higher than they were in 1980

10% to 20% higher than they were in 1990 and 2000
enjoying eight straight years of year-over-year improvement from the preceding year

None of this good news matters to the New York Times when they have a refugee causation myth to create and a climate myth to perpetuate. According to the Times article, “it almost never rained” for Guatemala farmers for five years between 2014 and 2019. Moreover, “under a relentless confluence of drought, flood, bankruptcy and starvation, they [Guatemala farmers], too, have begun to leave. Almost everyone here experiences some degree of uncertainty about where their next meal will come from. Half the children are chronically hungry, and many are short for their age, with weak bones and bloated bellies.” This is how the Times describes a period of longstanding growth in Guatemala crop production.

And again, even if this misery exists, the Guatemala crop data show the reason is a corrupt, violent political state rather than climate change.


Australian Government sued by 23-year-old Melbourne student over financial risks of climate change

Governments have often been sued over global warming in the USA without success.  This is probably just a publicity grab

A 23-year-old Melbourne law student is suing the Australian Government for failing to disclose the risk climate change poses to Australians' super and other safe investments.

The world-first case filed today in the Federal Court alleges the Government, as well as two government officials, failed in a duty to disclose how climate change would impact the value of government bonds.

Katta O'Donnell, the head litigant for the class action suit, said she hoped the case would change the way Australia handled climate change.

"I'm suing the Government because I'm 23 [and] I think I need to be aware of the risks to my money and to the whole of society and the Australian economy," Ms O'Donnell said.

"I think the Government needs to stop keeping us in the dark so we can be aware of the risks that we're all faced with."

Experts say it is the first where a national government has been sued for its lack of transparency on climate risks.

Government bonds are considered the safest form of investment, with most Australians invested in them through compulsory superannuation.

Bonds are similar to shares, but instead of investing in companies, the investor lends a government money to build infrastructure and fund critical services such as health, welfare and national security.

Ms O'Donnell, who has invested in bonds independently from her super, said she did it to "protect her future".

However bonds, like shares, can lose value if they become less attractive to the market. This can occur if investors question a government's ability to repay them due to rising government debt, ethical or reputational reasons.

Ms O'Donnell said watching the impact of bushfires in Australia made her worry about the value of her bonds.

Despite the Government not disclosing climate-related risks to its investment products, government regulators are increasingly forcing companies to disclose how climate change will impact their shareholders.

This landmark trial has the potential to change the way superannuation funds invest retirement savings and pave the way for more climate-change-related litigation.

No damages, just recognition

Ms O'Donnell's case names the Commonwealth, as well as the secretary to the Department of Treasury and the chief executive of the Australian Office of Financial Management — both of whom are alleged to be responsible for promoting government bonds.

The case is a class action, with Ms O'Donnell representing all investors and potential investors in government bonds tradeable on the Australian Securities Exchange.

It does not seek damages, but instead a declaration that the Government and those two officials breached their duty.

It also seeks an injunction, forcing the Government to stop promoting bonds until it updates its disclosure information to include information about Australia's climate change risks.

The case is backed by heavy-hitting silk and former Federal Court judge Ron Merkel and barrister Thomas Wood, who was previously the counsel assisting the solicitor-general of the Commonwealth.



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