Tuesday, October 18, 2011

History Matters! Evidence for Global Warming during the Middle Ages

"The Bible is a book of history. It is no coincidence that so-called 'postmodernism' rejects the value of history with an overriding skepticism that rationalizes falsehoods based on desired social or political outcomes." Another area of history that is ignored are accounts that tell of "global warming" during Middle Ages. Did you know that Norse Greenland was an agricultural society? This history is conveniently ignored in Al Gore's famous hockey stick graph of global warming trends during human history. Another blow against junk science... better to believe in the historical value of God's Word, the Scriptures!

Selections from The Little Ice Age in the North Atlantic Region, Part II: Magnitude, Extent, and Importance of the Little Ice Age, by Peter Klevberg, Michael J. Oard

(These selections, edited by Marko Malyj, are of the article published in Creation Research Society Quarterly Journal, Volume 48, Number 1, Summer 2011)

The Little Ice Age

The term “Little Ice Age” was originally coined by F. Matthes for what is generally called today the “neoglacial period (Mann, 2002; Ogilvie and Jónsson, 2001). It has now come to be used for an equivocal period in late medieval to early modern times, depending on the definition. Regardless of the approach taken, and contrary to naysayers (Mann, 2002), the Little Ice Age was still a phenomenon that is reasonably definable on a global basis.

The best historical data for the Little Ice Age are from the North Atlantic region; although historical accounts are available from China and Japan. In general, the Little Ice Age is considered to start about 1350 and end around 1880.

What was Before the Little Ice Age?

Controversy surrounds the weather in the period before the Little Ice Age. In the scientific literature, some scientists argue for a "Medieval Warm Period."

While models such as that promoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tend to downplay (if not deny) the Medieval Warm Period, others support it (Esper et al., 2005; Guiot et al., 2005),  More importantly, historical accounts from countries in the North Atlantic region confirm a Medieval Warm Period.

English and German Agriculture

Both England and Germany had well established wine industries during early medieval times, and both were forced to cease due to climate change (Fagan, 2000). Agricultural changes extended well beyond the wine industry and were not primarily driven by social conditions, disease, or other nonclimatic factors, as both weather records and general historical accounts indicate. Weather records from England are particularly complete.

Swiss Agriculture and Settlement

Switzerland is particularly important in studies of the Little Ice Age. Records are very good, and impacts from growing glaciers were both severe and widespread. Valleys, farms and towns, and mountain passes were overrun by ice. The extent of agricultural development and trade routes indicate conditions in early medieval times as warm as or warmer than today (Grove, 1988).

Icelandic Crops

Cereal grains were grown in various parts of Iceland during the Medieval Warm Period. As the climate cooled in the 1200s, the range of grain growing was steadily reduced, and finally ceased altogether (Grove, 1988). It is now possible to grow barley again on the southern coast of the Icelandic mainland (see barley stubble on south coast of Iceland, April, 2002 in the picture) but not on the north or east coasts.

Norwegian Forests

The Medieval Warm Period was not the clima optimum in Norway; this occurred much earlier, as indicated by remains of pine forest on Hardangarvidda, far above the present treeline (Lillehammer, 1994). The greater warmth of the Medieval Warm Period is, however, indicated by the extent of pine-oak forest where spruce-birch now predominates and agricultural development at elevations above what can be sustained today (Helle, 1994).

Agriculture in Greenland

Norse Greenland was an agricultural society. The population of Greenland was well in excess of what could be supported by the traditional Inuit (Eskimo) lifestyle. As advancing ice covered farms, increasing cold stunted vegetation, and falling water temperatures chased cod from the Davis Strait, Greenland’s agriculture collapsed (Fagan, 2000).


Records from other parts of the world (Western Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere) tend to be few and relatively recent. They document retreating ice with the end of the Little Ice Age but do not generally extend far enough back to document whether the Medieval Warm Period was global. The few proxies that cover longer periods and low latitudes tend to be more prone to speculation and interpretation, with the predictable
controversy resulting (Grove, 1988; Linderholm et al., 2009).

Good History versus Political Manipulation?

The Bible is a book of history, and it is no coincidence that so-called “postmodernism” (or “nonreason” per Schaeffer, 1982) rejects the value of history with a skepticism ad absurdum and often rationalizes falsehoods based on desired social or political outcomes (Grenz, 1996; Veith, 1994). The threat this poses to science has been pointed out (Anderson, 2007, 2008; Klevberg, 1999, 2008). That this is behind at least some of the junk science (e.g., Gore, 2006) at the surface of the global climate change question is clear.

The good historiography of the Little Ice Age, especially from Europe, is helpful in this struggle over the nature of history.

Marko comments: Doug Hoffman points out at the Resilient Earth that all this evidence of the Medieval Warm Period was conveniently ignored in  Michael Mann's infamous “hockey stick” history graph that is the idol of the global warming movement. The Medieval Warm Period, also called the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) "was the most recent pre-industrial warm period, noted in Europe and elsewhere around the globe."

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References (selected)

Anderson, K. 2007. Postmodern creationists? CRSQ 44:73–74.

Anderson, K. 2008. Response to “postmodernism and relativism.” CRSQ 44:243.

Esper, J., D.C. Frank, R.J.S. Wilson, and K.R. Briffa. 2005. Effect of scaling and regression on reconstructed temperature amplitude for the past millenium. Geophysical Research Letters 32:L07711-L07711.

Fagan, B. 2000. The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300–1850. Basic Books, New York, NY.

Gore, A. 2006. An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It. Rodale, New York, NY.

Grenz, S.J. 1996. A Primer on Postmodernism. William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.

Grove, J.M. 1988. The Little Ice Age. Metheun & Co., Ltd. New York, NY. 

Guiot, J., A. Nicault, C. Rathgeber, J.L. Edouard, F. Guibal, G. Pichard, and C. Till. 2005. Last-millenium summer temperature variations in western Europe based on proxy data. The Holocene 15:489–500.

Helle, K. 1994. Under kirke og kongemakt 1130 - 1350. Volume 3 of Aschehougs norges historie (in Norwegian). Aschehoug & Co. (W. Nygaard), Oslo, Norway.

Klevberg, P. 1999. The philosophy of sequence stratigraphy--part I: philosophic background. CRSQ 36:72–80

Klevberg, P. 2008. Postmodernism and relativism. CRSQ 44:243.

Lillehammer, A. 1994. Fra jeger til bonde—inntil 800 e.Kr. Volume 1 of Aschehougs norges historie (in Norwegian). Aschehoug & Co. (W. Nygaard), Oslo, Norway.  

Linderholm, H.W., J.A. Björklund, K. Seftigen, B.E. Gunnarson, I. Drobyshev, J.-H. Jeong, P. Stridbeck, and Y. Liu. 2009. Dendroclimatology in Fennoscandia—from past accomplishments to future potentials. Climate of the Past Discussions 

Mann, M.E. 2002. Little Ice Age. In Mac-Cracken, M.C., and J.S. Perry (editors), The Earth System: Physical and Chemical Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, pp.505–509. Volume I in Munn, T. (editor-in-chief). Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK.

Ogilvie, A.E.J., and T. Jónsson. 2001. “Little Ice Age” research: a perspective from Iceland. In Ogilvie, A.E.J., and T. Jónsson (editors), The Iceberg in the Mist: Northern Research in Pursuit of a “Little Ice Age,” pp. 53–82. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, MA.

Schaeffer, F.A. 1982. How Should We Then Live? In The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer V:83–277. Crossway Books, Westchester, IL.

Veith, G.E., Jr. 1994. Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture. Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL.