American Elephants


There Really Was a Little Ice Age, and It Was Very, Very Cold. by The Elephant's Child
January 2, 2010, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Environment, Junk Science | Tags: , ,

Have you ever heard of The Great Frost? In France they called it Le Grande Hiver. On the 6th of January in 1709 people across Europe awoke to find that the temperature had plummeted.  The temperature stayed down for three long weeks, there was a brief thaw, and then the temperature went down again, and stayed there.

From Scandinavia  to Italy, everything turned to ice.  Lakes and rivers froze, the sea froze.  The soil froze to a depth of a meter or more.  Livestock died in their barns from the cold.  Chickens’ combs froze and fell off.  Trees exploded. Travelers froze to death on the roads.

The painting above, by Gabriele Bella (1733-99) is of a portion of a lagoon in Venice, frozen over, with Venetians unsure of how to cope with this remarkable event.

Three months of deadly cold  meant a year of famine and food riots.  In Switzerland hungry wolves came right into the villages.  The Baltic froze so completely that people could walk across the ice as late as April.  In the Mediterranean, sailors died from the cold aboard English men-of-war.

In France,  bread froze so hard it took an axe to cut it.  According to a canon from Beaune in Burgundy, “travelers died in the countryside, livestock in the stables, wild animals in the woods.  Nearly all the birds died, wine froze in barrels and public fires were lit to warm the poor.”

In the spring the cold was replaced by worsening food shortages.  Authorities forced the rich to provide soup kitchens.  By the summer, there were reports of starving people in the fields “eating grass like sheep.”  More than a million died from cold or starvation.

Then there was “eighteen-hundred and froze-to-death.” That was the “year without summer” in America, or 1816.  Severe summer climate abnormalities destroyed crops in Northern Europe, Eastern Canada and the Northeast United States.  It is attributed to low solar activity combined with the a series of volcanic eruptions from 1812 to 1814, capped by a huge eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. There was widespread famine in China.

In America farmers, wiped out in New England, struck out for the richer soils of the Midwest.  The “Year Without a Summer” accounted for much of the settlement of the Upper Midwest — which was then the Northwest Territory — but the effects of the cold were far more widespread than that.

If you remember Dr. Michael Mann’s “hockey-stick” graph that has caused so much trouble, you will remember that it was given that name because the record of temperatures moved along in a pretty steady state like the handle of a hockey stick before suddenly shooting up in drastic warming in the 20th century.  I say “trouble” because the UN’s IPCC based much of its assessment of the climate on that particular graph.  And that is part of what proved to be so fraudulent in the climate scandal called “ClimateGate.”

The hockey-stick graph had already been completely discredited when mathematician Stephen McIntyre demonstrated that the math didn’t work; but until the exposure of the ClimateGate emails and code fraud no one was admitting that it was hooey.  The culprits at Hadley CRU were trying to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age from history, and profiting professionally and monetarily at the expense of science, their peers, the world’s governments and the world’s taxpayers.  Governments have a lot invested in the income that might be incoming from cap-and-trade schemes and fees and taxes.  They will not give up easily.

Science students who spend all their time in the lab, may be unaware of Viking settlements in Greenland — beginning  around 972 AD — or be unfamiliar with the Norse Eddas or Chaucer or the writings of  someone like William Derham, the Rector of Upminster— a short ride north-east of London — who had been checking his thermometer and barometer three times a day since 1687.  Others in Europe  recorded their observations.  Ships captains documented the weather in their logs on a daily basis, and those logs are proving to be an amazing resource for scientists who are looking for more detail of the history of climate.

Al Gore might take note that cold is far, far worse than hot weather.




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