Tag Archives: Medieval Warm Period

Greenland and the Medieval Warm Period

Amongst all the debate, sometimes, just sometimes, messages that run contrary to the global warming scare penetrate even in the most ‘green’ of countries and in a ‘green’ media outlet. A story from Spiegel online manages to break one of the great taboos of the global warming scare, when discussing the abandonment of the Viking colony in Greenland. I will quote some excerpts that grabbed my attention:

The descendants of the Vikings had persevered in their North Atlantic outpost for almost 500 years, from the end of the 10th century until the mid-15th century. The Medieval Warm Period had made it possible for settlers from Norway, Iceland and Denmark to live on hundreds of scattered farms along the protected fjords, where they built dozens of churches and even had bishops.


As the research shows, hunger could hardly have driven the ancestors of the Vikings out of their settlements on the edge of the glaciers. The bone analyses prove that, when the warm period came to an end, the Greenlandic farmers and ranchers switched to a seafood-based diet with surprising rapidity. From then on, the settlers focused their efforts on hunting the seals that appeared in large numbers off the coasts of Greenland during their annual migrations.

When settlement began in the early 11th century, only between 20 and 30 percent of their diet came from the sea. But seal hunting played a growing role in the ensuing centuries. “They ate more and more seal meat, with the animals constituting up to 80 percent of their diet in the 14th century,” explains team member Jan Heinemeier, a dating expert from the University of Aarhus, in Denmark.

His fellow team member Niels Lynnerup, an anthropologist and forensic scientist at the University of Copenhagen, confirms that the Vikings of Greenland had plenty to eat even as the climate grew colder. “Perhaps they were just sick and tired of living at the ends of the earth and having almost nothing but seals to eat,” he says.

One can imagine the catastrophic warming advocates spluttering into their coffee as the heresy is absorbed. Medieval warm period? But surely that was long ago banished by Saint Michael Mann? Sadly for the alarmists, it seems that the archaeologists and historians investigating this are simply not on message.


Apologies: This post originally had Iceland in the title. Oops.


It was the Romans who cooked the planet….

As regular readers will know, this blog does not often delve into the science of climate change. However, I have picked up on some news that is floating around the blogosphere which is discussing perhaps one of the most silly pieces of ‘science’ that I have yet seen. Apparently us nasty humans have been wrecking the planet since Roman times, and the medieval warm period was apparently down to us too….

The full story can be found here, and there is a critical evaluation here. This new addition to the ‘evidence’ was reported on ABC news:

A period covering the heyday of both the Roman Empire and China’s Han dynasty saw a big rise in greenhouse gases, according to a new study.

The finding challenges the view that human-made climate change only began around 1800.

A record of the atmosphere trapped in Greenland’s ice found the level of heat-trapping methane rose about 2000 years ago and stayed at that higher level for about two centuries.

Methane was probably released during deforestation to clear land for farming and from the use of charcoal as fuel, for instance to smelt metal to make weapons, says lead author Celia Sapart of Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

“Per capita they were already emitting quite a lot in the Roman Empire and Han Dynasty,” she says of the findings by an international team of scientists published today in the journal Nature.

As others have pointed out, never mind that the populations of the even the Han and Roman empires were miniscule by comparison with modernity (which they admit, but note the point about per capita in the story), they were guilty too.  I mention this news because it is so utterly silly, that it is indicative of desperation. When human wickedness to the planet is back-dated to the Roman and Han empires, you know that the activist scientists are metaphorically not just scraping the bottom of the barrel, but that there is very little barrel left.

However, in some respects, the response that examines the ‘science’ is giving too much dignity to the paper and may be a strategic error. The ABC report is classic alarmist reporting,  and the paper has the potential for wider reporting by alarmist media but……it might have been better to leave this paper alone, and let it ‘travel’. By this, I mean let it have some space to gain traction. It is quite simply so silly, it does not really need the forensic examination that has been so effective in the past. Or at least not yet.

When people read that the Romans and Han dynasty started to ‘cook’ the planet, the less interested observer of the climate debates would surely just go ‘Huh???? What, no SUVs, no coal power stations, no major industry and they were STILL starting to cook the planet???’

I am being a little flippant here to make the point, but I hope that I do make the point. The paper and reporting of the paper can only serve to raise further questions in the minds of people who already have doubts, but do not have the time or inclination to delve into the forensic examinations of  alarmist positions. People are not stupid. The silliness of the ABC report would make most people do a metaphoric double take. That in turn might prod them enough to look at the rest of the ‘science’ of alarmist positions.

That is no bad thing.
Note: None of the use of terms such as ‘alarmist’ is applied to the many honest scientists who might agree with the AGW thesis, but who continue to examine the science of the climate, and their area of that science, as objectively as possible. Here I refer to the scientists who accept uncertainty/doubt and seek to honestly find the truth.