Copy of a letter sent to the Editor; Wall Street Journal.
Today’s editorial, “Reckless ‘Endangerment’” speaks to President Obama’s global warming agenda. It seems evident to me that a reasonable analysis of global warming just might include some historical data. For example, the Viking settlements in Greenland, circa 800-1200 AD bear witness to significant historical episodes of global climate change and global warming. A quick search of the internet turns up a wonderful web site by Professor Scott A. Mandia.
On the web site Professor Mandia provides a very readable history of the Vikings in Greenland and the climate conditions that made it possible. However, the professor also feels obliged to include a disclaimer.
Note to general public:
My position on the current global warming is the same as the overwhelming majority of international climate scientists: the current rate of global warming is unprecedented and is being caused by humans. In no way should my summary of the research regarding climate change and the Viking civilization/Little Ice Age be used to “prove” the current global warming is due to a natural cycle. Human forcing (output of greenhouse gases) was just not as large a factor before the 1900s as natural forcing mechanisms. That would be like comparing the number of traffic fatalities today vs. a time when there were no cars!
I highly recommend that you read the information being presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at http://www.ipcc.ch/. Please view my two .PDF files Global Warming: Man or Myth? and IPCC WGI FAQ which address many of the questions asked about the human impact on the current climate change in a very simple format.
It is true that there are natural climate change cycles but most of these are on the order of thousands of years to millions of years. The current global warming is not a natural cycle and is of utmost importance because modern-day humans live on time scales much smaller than the natural cycles. Therefore, mankind cannot just simply wait thousands of years for a natural cooling to occur.
It is my opinion that those who still proclaim that “the jury is still out” or that modern-day climate change is natural, are either ignorant about the scientific evidence or are politically motivated to ignore it.
It is not possible for me to tell if the disclaimer is aimed at the professor’s job security, is an attempt at dry humor or is inexplicably false based on his own research. Note the sentence below: (emphasis added)
It is true that there are natural climate change cycles but most of these are on the order of thousands of years to millions of years.
On a separate page of his web site Professor Mandia describes the cycle of climate change affecting Greenland.
A careful examination of the climate record reveals that Europe experienced a prolonged warm period known as the Medieval Warm Period (hereafter referred to as MWP) between the years 600 and 1150, cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460, a brief warming between the years 1460 and 1560, followed by dramatic cooling known as the Little Ice Age (hereafter referred to as LIA) between the years 1560 and 1850.
Unless my math is grossly incorrect this process of warming (600-1150), cooling (1150-1460), warming (1460-1560) and ultimately the “Little Ice Age” (1560-1850) all occurred over time periods ranging from decades to hundreds of years. The entire, warm, cool, warm, freeze was all of 1250 years. This hardly constitutes “… thousands of years to millions of years.” What’s going on? How can such historical evidence be denied by the very researcher who describes it?
The professor also considers possible causes of this climate change, notably sun spots. Again, from the Professor’s web site.
Because the sun is Earth’s greatest source of energy and is the driving force behind its atmospheric circulation, any variation in solar output will influence the weather. Scientists have observed that the number of sunspots on the surface of the sun has been determined to correspond to solar output variability. More sunspots correspond to a higher solar energy output while fewer sunspots correspond to a lower solar output. A record of sunspot numbers has been recorded through time by various indicators including naked eye observations, auroral reports, and C14 isotope concentrations in tree rings (Schaefer, 1977.) Fig. 8 shows that during the MWP there was a high number of sunspots referred to as the Medieval Maximum, while during the LIA there were two periods of very low sunspot numbers called the Spörer Minimum and Maunder Minimum. Although a direct link has not yet been established between sunspot variability and climate change, the data is highly suggestive.
But the professor points us to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for more information on global climate change/warming. Presumably why humans are solely responsible for same? Also, Professor Mandia provides two additional pieces of information “explaining” his take on the human responsibility for the current global climate change/warming versus his own historical research. Note: I haven’t bothered to read them. What’s the point when the good professor disclaims his own evidence.
I believe this attitude is the driving force behind the push for government regulation of economic activity under the guise of an environmental – read global climate change/warming/whatever – emergency. In short, Professor Mandia, the eco-regulators (EPA, Obama, Congress, liberals and environmentalists) all choose to ignore the historical evidence plainly available. I believe they choose to ignore it because it contradicts their ideology. America’s economy will be held hostage to such ideologically scrubbed environmental evidence.