UN Climate Panel and "extreme weather"
By Dennis T. Avery
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admitted recently it had no evidence to support the various claims that the planet's weather is becoming "more extreme." The new IPCC report on weather extremes reads: "While there is evidence that increases in greenhouse gases have likely caused changes in some types of extremes, there is no simple answer to question of whether the climate, in general, has become more or less extreme."
Incredibly, even this non-confirmation is false. The more correct answer is "less extreme." Moreover, paleoclimate proxy records have already told us about the truly awful climate extremes of the past 10,000 years -- most of them mega-droughts during "little ice ages." For example, the 300-year drought that beset today's Iraq in 2200 BC. The inhabitants all starved, and the land was left to a few nomadic shepherds until the warm phase of the 1,500-year Dansgaard-Oeschger cycle returned stable weather. Then the Tigris-Euphrates Valley produced a new irrigated agriculture and built the world's first cities. This valley's devastation/recovery pattern has happened at least seven different times, in the D-O's 1,500-year rhythm.
Nor did the IPCC mention the 11th century AD mega-drought in the northern California mountains, with lake levels falling 70 feet below "normal." At the same time, the Anasazi and dozens of other western Indian tribes were driven from their homes forever. In the Corn Belt, the mega-drought destroyed Cahokia, Illinois, the only city the AmerIndians ever built.
What about the four huge sea-floods that attacked Northern Europe over a period of about 40 years in the 12th century? Whole counties were buried under storm sands and are still buried there! Each of these massive storms drowned more than 100,000 people. The biggest drowned 300,000, from a population of perhaps 75 million. If it happened today, with the present population density, that number might be expanded to 3 million deaths.
The ship's logs of the British Navy reveal twice as many major land-falling Caribbean hurricanes during the latter part of the Little Ice Age (1700–1850) as during the last half of the 20th century -- when the planet was supposedly warming at an "unprecedented" rate.
Nor did the IPCC mention the past periods of favorable climate, such as the 800 years of the Roman Warming, 200 BC to AD 600. The Romans built their empire on grain imported from an irrigated North Africa and the Nile Valley of Egypt. At AD 600 however, the world collapsed in the drought of the Dark Ages. Barbarians invaded Italy. Rat fleas fled drought in the steppes of western China and brought bubonic plague to Europe, again, as they had during the droughts of the Dark Ages.
The population of Rome fell from more than 1 million to about 20,000 by AD 700. Simultaneously, some 15 million Mayans starved in Central America during a "century of drought" after AD 800.
People living today have seen almost nothing of extreme weather. Northern Europe, in the early stages of the Little Ice Age, became extraordinarily wet. Pioneer climate historian Hubert Lamb tells us peat bogs spread, crops failed to ripen, famines starved the people, and epidemics spread tuberculosis and ergotism (the result of harvesting wet, fungus-infected rye). Ergotism caused mass delusions, hysteria, and gangrene. At worst, the victims' fingers, toes, and even entire limbs would literally fall off their bodies.
I'm tired of hearing about "extreme weather" from so-called experts in the midst of the warm, stable Modern Warming. History tells us clearly our climate is as good as it will ever get!
Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 2442; email to email@example.com. Visit their website at www. cgfi.org.