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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Michael Crichton v Global Warming

Michael Crichton's new book, State of Fear, challenges much of the environmental movement's fear of gloibal warming. In an interview, free at, describes his epiphany regarding global warming and the religious fervor of many environmentalists. He began reading much of the research and realized that much was based on views of the future and predicting the future. He also wonders why if CO2 is blamed for an increase in global temperature over the past 30 years, why wasn't it blamed for temperature decreases in the previous 30 years. (See the link below for an explanation related to sunspots.)

The climate research is dazzling and impressive, but it's not good enough to set policy. No one would agree they can predict the future, yet that's what is being done by the environmental movement. My own take on it is that yes it's true that the earth is getting warmer, but to say that's bad is not science, it's a value judgment. We know from the Greenland core samples that the earth was 5 degrees warmer than it is today around the first millenium. We also know that we are past the end of an interglacial and due for another glacial period. Whether the warming will prevent the advent of a new glacial period or increase its chances no one can say with any certainty. We just don't have enough information to change policy.

Should we try to reduce CO2 pollution? Surely, but as Crichton points out, some 20,000 children die every day from drinking polluted water. That's something we can address right now and we should.

Quote from some of that research. "Soon and Baliunas confirmed that from 800 to 1300 A.D., average temperatures in many regions worldwide were 2 to 4 degrees or more higher than the allegedly sweltering 20th century. It’s referred to as the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), and the extra warmth made life better, not worse. It is not only the arcane techniques of paleoclimatology, such as testing core samples of glacial ice for radioisotopes, that testify to the MWP, but history—such as people’s contemporary accounts of what they grew in their fields.

Decent wine grapes grew in Merrie England. (No more, alas.) Olives grew in 13th-century Germany, where St. Albert the Great also noted abundant fig and pomegranate groves in Cologne and the Rhine valley—places too cold for those crops today. Renaissance culture awakened and flourished throughout Europe.

The MWP also explains why Greenland, now essentially a glacier, could credibly be called Greenland. It was a Danish colony, and things actually grew there.

Following the MWP, the Greenland colony died out as average temperatures plummeted 3 to 5 degrees—about 2 degrees colder than our climate today. This Little Ice Age (LIA) finally moderated but lasted in most places until about 1900. For whatever reason, many regions have warmed up about 1 degree since 1900."

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