Not-So-Hot Findings

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For those who enjoy following every twist and turn in the debate over global warming–its existence and significance–a new study discussed in the UK Telegraph finds in a "review of more than 240 scientific studies…that today's temperatures are neither the warmest over the past millennium, nor are they producing the most extreme weather—in stark contrast to the claims of the environmentalists.

The review, carried out by a team from Harvard University, examined the findings of studies of so-called "temperature proxies" such as tree rings, ice cores and historical accounts which allow scientists to estimate temperatures prevailing at sites around the world.

The findings prove that the world experienced a Medieval Warm Period between the ninth and 14th centuries with global temperatures significantly higher even than today."

More details, and some counter-arguments, in the full article.

NEXT: Puppet Show

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  1. shoot, you mean the sky isn’t falling?!?

  2. Man, you took the phrase right out of my fingers.

    What are we supposed to think now? Those Harvard guys were probably bought and paid for by Halliburton? Or Exxon? Monty Burns?

  3. So who paid for the Kyoto bullshit? Forget about science, right, Jesse? It’s whoever’s got the most money that wins, right? You think?

  4. Jesse: while this study may be paid for by monty Burns, I’m pretty sure the Kyoto protocols were underwritten by Monty Python.

  5. “Forget about science, right, Jesse? It’s whoever’s got the most money that wins, right? You think?”

    Some of you guys crack me up… “whoever’s got the most money… You think”, ha, ha, ha…

  6. I’ve enjoyed watching tabloids and pro-corporate publications spin this news as evidence that global warming isn’t happening and isn’t bad. The 9th through 14th centuries weren’t called the Dark Ages for nothing. The ebb of civilization and of the technological advancement that we call “progress” in Eurasia during that period could very well be the direct byproduct of the drought conditions and more volatile weather that this study and several others found during that period. When societies are preoccupied with feeding themselves, finding drinking water and not getting swept away in mudlsides, they don’t prouduce much in the way of art, literature, or flying cars.

    The idea that human civilization in 2003 is less suceptible to the ravages of long periods of drought or years of excessive flooding in vast areas not usually hit with such things is both arrogant and kind of dopey. The study seems to say we may well heading into another such period–and that we have had them 600 or so years apart lately. The Telegraph’s reaction is predictable–and seems to twist the study’s conclusion to say the opposite of what it means.

    It’s not unlike the way a lot of people who should know better are relieved that the fatality rate from SARS infection seems to be around 4%. The fatality rate of the flu strain that killed some 50 million people in 1918 was 3%.

  7. Most historians I know define the Dark Ages as roughly the period from the fall of Rome to the Frankish states. You’re about 400 years too late, which is why they called it a “Medieval warm period” rather than a “Dark Ages warm period.” In fact, the 13th century was a time of tremendous population growth in Europe, and of renewed international trade and urbanization (think Marco Polo, Fibonacci, and the University of Paris). Some scholars (e.g. Norman Cantor, if I remember right) even refer to this period–13th and early 14th century–as a mini-Renaissance.

    Of course, that’s just Europe. Things may have been different–and more adversely affected–in other places. Most global models now indicate that a couple of degrees of warming wouldn’t be a bad thing for the northern U.S., which is about the same latitude as most of Europe. But the same models show more tropical regions becoming drier than they are now. I guess the lesson is that we (including me) have a tendency to think of the effects as being uniformly positive or uniformly negative, when really that isn’t the case at all.

  8. Similar tragic incidents occurred in Li?ge, Belgium, in 1930, where a “killer fog” trapped heavy pollution and killed dozens, and in London in 1952, while debate still raged over the exact cause of the events in Donora. Her account is a sobering reminder that air pollution was once the industrialized world?s chief environmental problem and that it remains a serious dilemma in the developing world. While today?s environmental debates in the developed world typically concern hard-to-detect chemicals and subtle or hypothetical health effects, a century ago in London one could see the pollution, thick and brown in the air, and feel it in the lungs. Even today, in places such as New Delhi, just stepping outside can induce coughing in newcomers.

  9. Similar tragic incidents occurred in Li?ge, Belgium, in 1930, where a “killer fog” trapped heavy pollution and killed dozens, and in London in 1952, while debate still raged over the exact cause of the events in Donora. Her account is a sobering reminder that air pollution was once the industrialized world?s chief environmental problem and that it remains a serious dilemma in the developing world. While today?s environmental debates in the developed world typically concern hard-to-detect chemicals and subtle or hypothetical health effects, a century ago in London one could see the pollution, thick and brown in the air, and feel it in the lungs. Even today, in places such as New Delhi, just stepping outside can induce coughing in newcomers.

  10. I can remember only a few months ago, the “experts” said that global warming was so troublesome, it could actually be COLDER for several years.

    This Chicken Little stuff is so aggravating. Especially as we in Michigan have had to dig our cars out of ice for the last 3 days!

    I’m making a point that the first “ozone action day” I hear of this summer, I want to gas up my car, fire up the lawn mower and mow the entire front & back lawn. And edge it too.

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