Man Without Qualities

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Bad News From The Middle Ages For Democrats

Many top Democrats consider environmental issues to be one of their major advantages - with the Bush Administration's "repudiation" of the Kyoto Accord (if a President can "repudiate" a treaty of which the Senate totally disapproved) at the top of the list of this Administration's supposed environmental errors.

Well the Democrats can always fall back on other environmental arguments. But it appears that a new Harvard-led study will complicate arguments based on supposed global warming - whose extent and destructive consequences are taken as pseudo-religious truth by much of the left:

Claims that man-made pollution is causing "unprecedented" global warming have been seriously undermined by new research which shows that the Earth was warmer during the Middle Ages. ... A review of more than 240 scientific studies has shown that today's temperatures are neither the warmest over the past millennium, nor are they producing the most extreme weather - in stark contrast to the claims of the environmentalists. The review, carried out by a team from Harvard University, examined the findings of studies of so-called "temperature proxies" such as tree rings, ice cores and historical accounts which allow scientists to estimate temperatures prevailing at sites around the world. The findings prove that the world experienced a Medieval Warm Period between the ninth and 14th centuries with global temperatures significantly higher even than today. They also confirm claims that a Little Ice Age set in around 1300, during which the world cooled dramatically. Since 1900, the world has begun to warm up again - but has still to reach the balmy temperatures of the Middle Ages.

The timing of the end of the Little Ice Age is especially significant, as it implies that the records used by climate scientists date from a time when the Earth was relatively cold, thereby exaggerating the significance of today's temperature rise. According to the researchers, the evidence confirms suspicions that today's "unprecedented" temperatures are simply the result of examining temperature change over too short a period of time.

The study is interesting on many levels - but especially because even if it does not hold up, a lot more study and research will be needed to discredit it, if that can be done at all. President Bush came under intense fire from activists and politicians who are apparently unaware of their own extremism for his decision to turn the question of global warming over to scientists for further research. For example, Salon noted: Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope [said:] "President Bush's approach of merely studying global warming is irresponsible and will embarrass the United States in front of the rest of the world." ... Others have responded with a mixture of condescension and sarcasm. Take this headline from the U.K. Guardian last week: "It's true Mr President, the world's hotting up." And the Associated Press reported: For many climate experts, the administration's latest strategy reopens questions that most scientists considered already fairly settled. ... "It seems like they're reinventing the wheel because some people didn't like the direction indicated the last time the analysis was done," said Dan Lashof, science director for the climate program at the Natural Resources Defence Council, an environmental group. "The overall thrust of this plan is to take a giant step backward and almost pretend that the last decade and findings by the scientific community don't exist," he added.

But now it looks as though the proponents of Kyoto have a lot more homework to do, if only to undermine the Harvard study - homework that they had previously and rather haughtily denied needed doing at all, even as a President they deride as ignorant told them more study was needed.

Isn't it odd that facts about the weather in the Middle Ages might have a significant impact on an American 21st Century election?

Just imagine what the consequences could be of a dispositive determination of the price of eggs in China!

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