Book Burning Morons

Here is the Nazi book burning scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Good thing we don’t have idiots in this country who go around burning books.

sjsu_bookfire

Those must be a couple of teabaggers, the sort of idiots who go around burning books that challenge their narrow, ignorant view of the world. Oh wait. I found this picture on the blog Watt’s Up with That. It turns out that these two people are from the San Jose State University Meteorology Department.

From the Fahrenheit 451 department comes this indictment of California’s higher education’s “tolerance” for opposing views. When I first got the tip on this, I thought to myself “nobody can be this stupid to photograph themselves doing this” but, here they are, right from the San Jose State University Meteorology Department web page:

The caption from the SJSU website reads:

This week we received a deluge of free books from the Heartland Institute {this or this }. The book is entitled “The Mad, Mad, Made World of Climatism”. SHown above, Drs. Bridger and Clements test the flammability of the book.

Maybe they just can’t help themselves, note the pictures on the wall.

Here is a screencap of the website relevant section:

SJSU_book_burn

SJSU Meteorology page is here: http://www.sjsu.edu/meteorology/

Fully archived here:

http://www.webcitation.org/6GJvAbb2t

This is the link for book:The Mad Mad Mad World of Climatism

I think Drs. Bridger and Clements have proved the point of the book quite well.

I am shocked that tolerant, liberal academics would burn books and suppress dissenting points of view. I thought that universities were centers of open inquiry. I guess we know who the real book burning morons are.

 

Climate Deniers in Congress

It seems that Organizing for Action is going to shift to global warming/climate change/ climate chaos/ etc. after their embarrassing defeat on gun control.

David —

Right now, way too many lawmakers in Washington flat-out refuse to face the facts when it comes to climate change.

We’re never going to make real progress on this issue unless members of Congress get serious. Instead, some of them have made a habit of publicly mocking it.

We thought it was time to call them out for denying what’s basic science.

Watch this embarrassing video of climate deniers in Congress — and say you’re ready to help hold them accountable:

The science matters in this.

That’s the message way too many people in Washington need to hear right now.

In 2011, there were 240 members of Congress who voted to say that climate change is a hoax.

Most of them are still around today, and they’re getting away with it — some of them are actually proud of it. They think the whole debate is pretty funny.

If we want to make progress on climate change, we need everyone in Congress on board for a solution. It’s our job to show them there’s a price to pay for being a climate denier.

Take a look at this video and join the fight:

http://my.barackobama.com/Climate-Change

Get ready — more on this coming soon.

Thanks,

Jon

Jon Carson
Executive Director
Organizing for Action
@JonCarsonOFA

The use of the word “denier” is meant to suggest that questioning the hypothesis that the Earth is warmer due to man made carbon dioxide emissions and that drastic action involving increased government control of individual lives is necessary to combat this warming is equivalent to denying the historical fact of the Holocaust. It is a intellectually dishonest and despicable choice of wording and the use of “denier” is sufficient to indicate that the user does not have the facts on their side.

Here is the video. On the whole, I think it is only embarrassing for the people who made it. The politicians who are showcased actually seem to know what they are talking about, which is very odd.

Comments are disabled for the video on YouTube. I wonder why.

No the science is not overwhelming nor have the models that climate scientists have used turned out to be particularly accurate. The Earth is not currently warming to the extent they predicted. The Earth’s axial tilt does oscillate over time which does affect the climate, though what relation, if any, that long-term process has on recent shifts in climate, I do not know. The reference to the Vikings that the makers of this video found so humorous was probably a reference to the Medieval Warm Period, in which temperatures were probably somewhat higher than they are presently, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. During this period, the Vikings were able to colonize Greenland and even North America. When the climate became cooler in the thirteenth century, the Vikings were forced to abandon these colonies.

Mars’ ice caps seem to be melting. This is most likely a periodic phenomenon with no relation to events on Earth. Still, it would be very interesting and beneficial of we could get some idea how the temperatures have changed on other planets, especially Mars. It is certain that even insignificant changes in solar luminosity would have a far greater effect on the Earth’s climate than anything human beings could possibly do.

No, Mr. President. Hurricane Sandy, while devastating, was not unprecedented in size. There have been worse droughts in North America and droughts are a periodic phenomena, influenced by El Nino/La Nina more than our carbon emissions. When even the mainstream media is finally starting to admit that the world is not going to end, why does Organizing for Action feel they need to take action on this issue?

 

Global Warming and the Lizard People

I had another point to make about the poll I referred to the other day but I thought it would distract attention from my discussion of the Anti-Christ, and anyway the post was getting to be long enough. Let me quote the article again.

It’s official: Americans love their conspiracy theories. Public Policy Polling asked voters to weigh in on 20 more infamous ones, and the results show that a not-insignificant number of people believe that President Obama is the anti-Christ (13%), Big Foot exists (14%), and the planet is secretly ruled by the New World Order (28%). Four percent think our societies are actually ruled by “lizard people.”

  • 21% believe the government covered up a UFO crash in Roswell; 29% believe in aliens
  • 6% believe Osama bin Laden is alive
  • 5% think Paul McCartney has been dead for decades
  • 15% think there’s mind-control technology hidden in TV signals
  • 37% think global warming is a hoax
  • 7% think the moon landing was faked
  • 15% think Big Pharma develops new diseases as a way to make money
  • 14% see the CIA’s hand in the 1980s crack epidemic

If you look carefully, you will notice that one of these crazy conspiracy theories is not like the others in terms of plausibility. It is insane to believe that lizard people rule the world or the CIA distributed crack to minority neighborhoods. It is more than a little silly to believe that Bigfoot exists or the Moon landing is a fraud. These sorts of things are possible, but the available evidence is against their being true. The belief that the New World Order or the Trilateral Commission secretly rules the world seems like paranoia, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to watch any group of powerful people who meet on a regular basis.

What about the idea that global warming is a hoax? Well, given that the behavior of some of the principal proponents of the idea that man made global warming will lead to catastrophic results has been less than honest in their dealings with the public and given that at least some of these proponents seem to have a political agenda that is quite unrelated to any scientific evidence, it does not seem that the theory that global warming (or is it climate change or climate catastrophe or climate chaos?) is a hoax is quite in the same league as these others.

To be fair, I am not sure if the scientists at the Climate Research Institute and elsewhere were consciously engaging in fraud. Their misbehavior may be more due to self-deception, wishful thinking and shoddy scientific technique. They did not take Richard Feyman’s advice.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you   easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful aboutthat. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I am not trying to tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or something like that, when you’re not trying to be a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We’ll leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you are maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.

Instead of presenting the facts the best way they could, too many decided the matter was so important that they had to be alarmist. If global warming is a real threat, then they harmed their cause considerably.

When you consider the business people and politicians who stand to profit from this sort of alarmism, would be carbon credit billionaires and world leaders who will leap at any excuse to gain more power for themselves (Yes, I have Al Gore in mind), then perhaps hoax is not too strong a word to use.

Of course, the idea here is to associate people who are unconvinced by any lack of evidence for global warming with crazy people who believe that the lizard people rule the world.

The fact that 37% of the people in a poll believe that global warming is a hoax does not, of course, make it a hoax. But then, listing the idea that global warming is a hoax with a group of less plausible ideas does not make disbelief in global warming less plausible. One hurricane, however strong, does not prove that the world is getting warmed, nor was Sandy unprecedented in its size and destructiveness. Sandy was a category 3 hurricane, while the highest rating is category 5. There have been worse tropical storms in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Sandy was the largest hurricane on record as far as actual diameter, as well as the second most destructive in terms of property damage, with 2005’s  Hurricane Katrina causing the most property damage. You have to consider, however, that coasts are more developed today than they were decades ago and property is worth more, not to mention that both these storms struck urban areas in the United States.

I suppose that it is too much to ask that a television meteorologist be familiar with logic and the scientific method though.

 

Let Them Die and Decrease the Surplus Population

If there is anyone today who would echo Scrooge’s callous dismissal of the poor who wanted better lives, it might be the contemporary Green movement. I have long believed that the more radical environmentalists are motivated more by misanthropy than by any abstract desire to save the planet. You really don’t have to read too much of their literature before you encounter their anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-technological, and ultimately anti-human ideology.

Robert Zubrin knows this better than most. Last year he wrote a book titled Merchants of Despair, which tells of the excesses of the environmental movement. Yesterday, he had a column in National Review Online, rebutting an editorial in the Denver Post, written by Phillip Cafaro. Cafaro writes of the link between illegal immigration and climate change. Robert Zubrin’s answer is worth reading but I want to examine how Cafaro’s editorial shows the anti-human bias of the Greens. Here are some excerpts.

According to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s website, reforming immigration policy and combatting climate change are two of his key legislative goals.

But there is no evidence that the senator sees any connection between them, despite the fact that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified population growth as one of the two key drivers of global warming, and that most of the increase in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the past two decades has occurred due to population growth, while per capita emissions have remained relatively flat.

As can readily be seen, even at present immigration rates, the U.S. is on track for huge population increases during the 21st century, from a current population of 315 million to 524 million people by 2100. It is not clear how such increases can be accommodated in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Further increasing America’s already generous immigration rates, as proposed by Sen. Bennet, could add another 145 million people to our population. That increase itself is equal to almost half our current population. It would ensure that the U.S. more than doubles its total population by 2100, to 669 million people.

And make no mistake: Immigrants are not coming to the United States to remain poor. Those hundreds of millions of new citizens will want to live as well and consume energy at the same rates as other Americans.

All this suggests some obvious questions: What climate change mitigation measures does Sen. Bennet plan to put forward that could possibly equal the increased greenhouse gas emissions we would lock in by adding 145 million more new citizens to our population?

Now, my major concerns regarding immigration are assimilation and legality. I oppose illegal immigration simply because it is illegal. I bear no particular ill will for the immigrants but they are in violation of our immigration laws. I do not think it is wise to simply not enforce these laws. If there is a need for more immigrants in this country, than the laws should be changed. I oppose any sort of amnesty simply because I feel that it would be essentially rewarding people for breaking the law.

Having said all that, I have no problem at all with legal immigrants coming here and making a better life for themselves. It is my sincere desire that they do live as well and consume energy as much as other Americans. In fact, I wish that for higher standards of living all over the world. It shouldn’t be necessary to leave your home in the hope of having a decent life.

Cafaro feels otherwise. He wants the immigrants to stay home and stay poor. It’s necessary for them to stay poor and hungry in order to save the Earth. In fact, since there are really too many people, it might be best if they were to starve.

 

The Washington Post and the Carbon Tax

The Washington Post has published an opinion piece in favor of wrecking the economy. Well, not really of course, but they do want President Obama to address climate change by putting into place a slowly rising carbon tax.

PRESIDENT OBAMA will deliver his 2013 State of the Union address on Tuesday, and expectations are high that he will devote significant time to climate change. We hope that he adopts a different approach to explaining the need for action than he did in much of his first term.

In past addresses, talking about green jobs didn’t work, nor did talking about energy independence. The credible way to justify fighting climate change is to discuss the science, the real reason to cut carbon emissions. There is overwhelming evidence that the planet is warming. The widespread burning of fossil fuels, meanwhile, pumps heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every second. There is still uncertainty about exactly how sensitive the climate system is to a given increase in carbon dioxide concentrations — but not enough uncertainty to justify ignoring the risks of rising temperatures.

Well, the evidence that the planet is warming may not be so overwhelming as they contend. I would say that there is not enough certainty to justify levying a tax that would permanently slow down the economy and put the US at a competitive disadvantage with China and India.

Here is their proposal.

Putting a slowly rising, significant price on carbon emissions would encourage people to burn less fossil fuel without micromanaging by Congress or the Energy Department. This approach would enlist market forces to green the energy sector. It would also allow for similar policies in other nations to connect with America’s, creating a bigger, global market for carbon.

Anything like carbon pricing must get lawmakers’ approval, though, which is the first reason Mr. Obama should make reaching out to them on climate policy a priority. True, a coalition of anti-regulation Republicans and coal-state Democrats killed the last major effort to price emissions, a 2010 cap-and-trade bill. But, in the big budget reform politicians have been promising, they will need new revenue from somewhere. A carbon tax would be an ideal source.

Even second- and third-best alternatives would need Congress’s say-so. These include establishing a national clean energy standard requiring that a defined and rising amount of electricity come from sources cleaner than coal, the top climate villain. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the Energy Committee’s lead Republican and a voice of reason within her party, just released a 121-page plan with other ideas that could serve as a basis for some congressional action, such as paying for energy technology research, reforming subsidies for green power, advancing hydropower and promoting energy efficiency.

Since almost every industrial process emits some carbon dioxide, especially in energy and transportation, a tax on carbon dioxide emissions would be a tax on just about every industry and business in America. These costs will be passed on to consumers and the cost of living will increase. It is true that a new tax would be a bonanza of the federal government, at least until they squander the increased revenues on subsidies for green power.

It’s nice that they refer to coal as the top climate villain. How an inanimate substance could be a villain is not clear to me, but at this time, coal is also our cheapest source of energy and the one that is most abundant in North America. Requiring that a defined and rising amount of energy come from cleaner than coal would raise the cost of energy over time and again raise the cost of living. I begin to think that the editors of the Washington Post don’t like the poor and middle class very much, or perhaps they love the poor so much, they want to make more people poor.

And, they finish with a threat.

The president should also remind Congress that, without ambitious action from lawmakers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can and will act on its own. The EPA has already established or is in the process of establishing a range of new air pollution rules. These rules will ensure than no new conventional coal plants are built in the United States, and they will force the closure of some particularly awful, ancient coal-fired facilities. More regulations are likely in store in Mr. Obama’s second term. The EPA, for example, has not yet set rules regulating the carbon emissions of major, existing sources of greenhouse gases. Using the EPA’s top-down approach, though, is not the best way to reduce carbon emissions. Mr. Obama should invite Congress to work with him on a better alternative.

So, do what the president wants, or he’ll have the EPA do it anyway. Why bother with a Congress at all, if that is the way we are going to do things? It seems to me that this is the best argument ever for reining in, or even abolishing the EPA. They have clearly become a rogue agency, seeing themselves as above the law and even common sense. Maybe, Congress should abolish the agency and replace it with something more responsible.

Winter Has Come

We’ve had our first snowfall of the season here in Madison, Indiana and temperatures have dropped below freezing so I think it would be safe to say that winter has finally arrived after an unusually mild autumn. I was hoping that it would continue to be mild all winter but that is too much to hope for. This reminds me of a recent poll which showed that larger number of Americans were believing in the reality of climate change and that temperatures are rising worldwide. These results are not too surprising considering that the poll was taken during a warm autumn. I suspect that if January turns out to be unusually cold and snowy many of these same people will be convinced that a new ice age is upon us.

Thinking about my own recollections of past seasons, I seem to recall, as a child we never got any snow before the new year. But, then the worst snow we have ever had was in 1977 or 1978 when school was closed for a whole month. The teachers started to send us our homework so that we wouldn’t get too far behind. I do not think we have had so much snow since.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that temperatures have been more even in the past few years. Perhaps I have a difference sort of tolerances for heat and cold. I don’t think we have had many days in which the temperature has risen above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the past few summers. I remember whole weeks in which the temperature stayed in the upper nineties and hundreds. Somehow summer used to be more miserable than it is now. I also remember more winter days in which the temperature dropped below zero degrees Fahrenheit when I was growing up. I do not believe there were more than one or two such days in the last few years, nor do snowfalls seem to be quite as bad. As for extreme weather events,the worst that happened in my lifetime, in the local area, was the super cluster of tornadoes that devastated much of the Midwest back in 1974. We have had tornadoes since then, including several bad ones but none that did quite so much damage. We also had a bad wind storm back in 2005 which was the last remnant of Hurricane Katrina.

None of this means anything, of course. These are just the personal recollections of one man with a fallible memory. I hope this turns out to be a mild winter with little or no snow.

Barack Canute Obama

One of the highlights of Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech was the line, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

Steve Benen at MSNBC doesn’t think that is funny.

For those who can’t watch clips online, Romney said, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

That’s great news for those of us who don’t have families on this planet.

Now, as a factual matter, Romney’s promise is itself rather strange. How “you and your family” will benefit from less access to affordable health care, less access to education, and fewer investments in roads and infrastructure is something of a mystery.

But even putting that aside, the aspect of Romney’s comments that was simply astounding was the ignorance. The Republican treated rising sea levels as a punch-line, as if the very idea of addressing the climate crisis is ridiculous and those who take this seriously are fools worthy of mockery.

Indeed, the Republican audience took their cues, literally laughing at Obama’s efforts to address global warming.

Also notice that, in Romney’s mind, there’s a distinction — the nation can deal with the climate crisis or we can help families, as if the two have nothing to do with one another.

When people in the future look back at Romney’s contempt for the idea of “slowing the rise of the oceans,” and his party’s willingness to bury their hands in the sand, history will not be kind.

Maybe I should explain the joke to him. The reference is to this speech that Barack Obama made just before the 2008  election.

 

For a politician to claim that his election will stop the rise of the oceans and cause the planet to heal is insane. Obama should have been laughed off the stage for saying something like that. It sounds like Canute commanding the tide to halt, or something mad that one of the crazy Roman Emperors, who though they were gods might say. The fact that many of Obama’s followers really seemed to believe Obama was some sort of savior is disturbing. Sane people see such statements as ridiculous and worthy of derision.

 

Obama healing the planet.
The Democrats seem to be upset that several speakers actually made fun of the President at the Convention. Well, to make a slight alteration of a famous statement of Winston Churchill’s, Obama is an proud man, with little to be proud about. This is America. In America, we do not worship our leaders. We mock them, especially when they seem to believe that they are doing us all some very great favor by deigning to rule over us. Barack Obama’s arrogance, as seen in that line of his speech, just cries out to be mocked.

Besides, like most people who are full of themselves, Obama has a very thin skin. If the Republicans keep teasing him, keeping it light and humorous, he will show the very ugly side of his personality. I am looking forward to the debates.

The World Was Warmer

Dendrochronology
Dendrochronology (Photo credit: fdecomite)

I have been criticizing the Global Warming advocates of making exaggerated claims beyond what the data might warrant, but now I suppose I ought to take on the other side. I am referring to the article I read in the Daily Mail titled Tree-ring study Proves that Climate was Warmer. In fact, from what I read, the study does no such thing. You cannot, in fact, prove what the temperatures were a thousand years ago unless someone invents a time machine and takes thermometers into the past to measure them.

How did the Romans grow grapes in northern England? Perhaps because it was warmer than we thought.

A study suggests the Britain of 2,000 years ago experienced a lengthy period of hotter summers than today.

German researchers used data from tree rings – a key indicator of past climate – to claim the world has been on a ‘long-term cooling trend’ for two millennia until the global warming of the twentieth century.

This cooling was punctuated by a couple of warm spells.

These are the Medieval Warm Period, which is well known, but also a period during the toga-wearing Roman times when temperatures were apparently 1 deg C warmer than now.

They say the very warm period during the years 21 to 50AD has been underestimated by climate scientists.

Lead author Professor Dr Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: ‘We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.

‘This figure we calculated may not seem particularly significant, however it is not negligible when compared to global warming, which up to now has been less than 1 deg C.’

In general the scientists found a slow cooling of 0.6C over 2,000 years, which they attributed to changes in the Earth’s orbit which took it further away from the Sun.

The study is published in Nature Climate Change.

It is based on measurements stretching back to 138BC.

The finding may force scientists to rethink current theories of the impact of global warming

Professor Esper’s group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC.

In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first time to precisely demonstrate that the long-term trend over the past two millennia has been towards climatic cooling.

I suppose that I should take into consideration that this is an article intended for a popular audience on a newspaper’s website and I am sure the authors of this study were more nuanced in the papers they wrote. Still, a more accurate headline might read “Study based on assumptions on the relation of tree-rings to temperature and climate infers that Europe, and possible the entire world was warmer in the past”. But, maybe they would have trouble fitting all that in.

The study seems to be a very extensive one and considering that there are other lines of evidence that show a warmer Earth at these times, the Romans growing grapes in Britain and the Vikings being able to colonize Greenland and Vinland, I really don’t have any doubt that their conclusions are accurate. I would like to emphasize, however, how tentative any such studies actually are.

By the way, if the Earth really is in a long term trend toward cooler weather, should we be worried about a new ice age? As I have said before, I would be a lot more worried about global cooling than I would about global warming. After all, the glaciers weren’t that far north of where I am sitting during the last ice age.

 

Global Warming is Here

As I write this, the temperature here in Madison, Indiana is 103° F. Does this mean that the end of the world is coming? According to the Washington Post, it might. I saw this article a couple of days ago but I have been busy at work and haven’t had time to write about it until now.

Fueled by the record high heat, this was among the strongest of this type of storm in the region in recent history, said research meteorologist Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storm Laboratory in Norman, Okla. Scientists expect “non-tornadic wind events” like this one and other thunderstorms to increase with climate change because of the heat and instability, he said.

Such patterns haven’t happened only in the past week or two. The spring and winter in the U.S. were the warmest on record and among the least snowy, setting the stage for the weather extremes to come, scientists say.

Since Jan. 1, the United States has set more than 40,000 hot temperature records, but fewer than 6,000 cold temperature records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Through most of last century, the U.S. used to set cold and hot records evenly, but in the first decade of this century America set two hot records for every cold one, said Jerry Meehl, a climate extreme expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. This year the ratio is about 7 hot to 1 cold. Some computer models say that ratio will hit 20-to-1 by midcentury, Meehl said.

“In the future you would expect larger, longer more intense heat waves and we’ve seen that in the last few summers,” NOAA Climate Monitoring chief Derek Arndt said.

The 100-degree heat, drought, early snowpack melt and beetles waking from hibernation early to strip trees all combined to set the stage for the current unusual spread of wildfires in the West, said University of Montana ecosystems professor Steven Running, an expert on wildfires.

If we have an unusually cold winter with a lot of snow and temperatures below freezing, can I announce that a new ice age is coming? I would hope that I would not be so foolish to say such a thing, except in jest. These people are doing their cause a great deal of harm with their alarmism. Yes, heat records were set, in the United States. So what? A hot summer in one part of the world does not imply that the mean temperature of the Earth as a whole is increasing. Making these kinds of statements is misleading and irresponsible.

Why is it assumed that an increase in mean temperature would be an absolute disaster? It seems to me that such an increase would have many effects, both positive and negative. It may well be that the benefits of a warmer planet would outweigh the disadvantages. It seems that the idea is that there is one set temperature of the Earth and any change would have unprecedented effects. But, we know that the mean temperature of the Earth has changed over time. A thousand years ago, during the Medieval Warm Period, the Earth’s temperature seems to have been warmer than today. Four hundred years  ago, during the Little Ice Age, the temperature was cooler. And, let us not forget the real Ice Ages, the last of which ended about 10,000 years ago. The only thing that is constant about Earth’s climate is that it is always changing.

The ideas of the global warming supporters and Greens generally seem to me to be based less on science than on a sort of religion, or a parody of Genesis. All the organisms of the world lived together in complete harmony and innocence in paradise. Instead of the serpent bringing sin into the garden, it is humanity that ruins everything. This might explain why some Greens are so misanthropic. Instead of humans being created in the image of God, their religion teaches that humans are devils who only destroy the Earth.

Perhaps I am too skeptical about this sort of thing but I grew up thinking that an environmental catastrophe was just around the corner. It hasn’t happened yet.

 

 

That last link is especially interesting. Did you know that Seattle has had unusually cool summers three years in a row? Or that, in this hottest summer ever, Scandinavia is having its coldest summer on record and Australia is having an unusually cold winter? All evidence of warming I suppose.

The Decline and Fall of the Indus Civilization

English: Indus Priest/King Statue. The statue ...
English: Indus Priest/King Statue. The statue is 17.5 cm high and carved from steatite a.k.a. soapstone. It was found in Mohenjo-daro in 1927. It is on display in the National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. Deutsch: „Priesterkönig“ gedeutete Steinfigur der Indus-Kultur aus Mohenjo-daro (Pakistan) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The earliest civilizations in history were the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, the ancient Egyptians and the Indus Civilization in Pakistan and India. Quite a lot is known about the first two, but the Indus Civilization is still a mystery. Their writing remains undeciphered so we do not know much about their history. We can’t even be certain of their ethnicity although it is very likely they were the ancestors of the Dravidian Indians. This civilization flourished for centuries but then collapsed quite suddenly from 1800-1700 BC. Evidently most of the inhabitants of the cities migrated eastwards. The cause of this collapse is unknown but this article in Yahoo news indicates that archeologists and historians are finding some answers.

The mysterious fall of the largest of the world’s earliest urban civilizations nearly 4,000 years ago in what is now India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh now appears to have a key culprit — ancient climate change, researchers say.

Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia may be the best known of the first great urban cultures, but the largest was the Indus or Harappan civilization. This culture once extended over more than 386,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers) across the plains of the Indus River from the Arabian Sea to the Ganges, and at its peak may have accounted for 10 percent of the world population. The civilization developed about 5,200 years ago, and slowly disintegrated between 3,900 and 3,000 years ago — populations largely abandoned cities, migrating toward the east.

“Antiquity knew about Egypt and Mesopotamia, but the Indus civilization, which was bigger than these two, was completely forgotten until the 1920s,” said researcher Liviu Giosan, a geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. “There are still many things we don’t know about them.”

Nearly a century ago, researchers began discovering numerous remains of Harappan settlements along the Indus River and its tributaries, as well as in a vast desert region at the border of India and Pakistan. Evidence was uncovered for sophisticated cities, sea links with Mesopotamia, internal trade routes, arts and crafts, and as-yet undeciphered writing.
“They had cities ordered into grids, with exquisite plumbing, which was not encountered again until the Romans,” Giosan told LiveScience. “They seem to have been a more democratic society than Mesopotamia and Egypt — no large structures were built for important personalitiess like kings or pharaohs.”

Location of Harappa in the Indus Valley and ex...
Location of Harappa in the Indus Valley and extent of Indus Valley Civilization (green). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My high school history textbook theorized that the people of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro had a “Bronze-Age totalitarian” system of government because the cities and buildings were so similar to each other. It seems the authors were wrong.

The researchers’ conclusion is that the Indus Valley Civilization collapsed because of changing climates. If I am not mistaken, about this same time period, or somewhat earlier, the Sahara Desert was also becoming drier.

Some had suggested that the Harappan heartland received its waters from a large glacier-fed Himalayan river, thought by some to be the Sarasvati, a sacred river of Hindu mythology. However, the researchers found that only rivers fed by monsoon rains flowed through the region.

Previous studies suggest the Ghaggar, an intermittent river that flows only during strong monsoons, may best approximate the location of the Sarasvati. Archaeological evidence suggested the river, which dissipates into the desert along the dried course of Hakra valley, was home to intensive settlement during Harappan times.

“We think we settled a long controversy about the mythic Sarasvati River,” Giosan said.

Initially, the monsoon-drenched rivers the researchers identified were prone to devastating floods. Over time, monsoons weakened, enabling agriculture and civilization to flourish along flood-fed riverbanks for nearly 2,000 years.

I guess they should have paid more attention to their carbon footprint. Actually, the cause of the changing climate was entirely natural.

“The insolation — the solar energy received by the Earth from the sun — varies in cycles, which can impact monsoons,” Giosan said. “In the last 10,000 years, the Northern Hemisphere had the highest insolation from 7,000 to 5,000 years ago, and since then insolation there decreased. All climate on Earth is driven by the sun, and so the monsoons were affected by the lower insolation, decreasing in force. This meant less rain got into continental regions affected by monsoons over time.”

Eventually, these monsoon-based rivers held too little water and dried, making them unfavorable for civilization.

“The Harappans were an enterprising people taking advantage of a window of opportunity — a kind of “Goldilocks civilization,” Giosan said.

Eventually, over the course of centuries, Harappans apparently fled along an escape route to the east toward the Ganges basin, where monsoon rains remained reliable.

“We can envision that this eastern shift involved a change to more localized forms of economy — smaller communities supported by local rain-fed farming and dwindling streams,” Fuller said. “This may have produced smaller surpluses, and would not have supported large cities, but would have been reliable.”

This change would have spelled disaster for the cities of the Indus, which were built on the large surpluses seen during the earlier, wetter era. The dispersal of the population to the east would have meant there was no longer a concentrated workforce to support urbanism.

“Cities collapsed, but smaller agricultural communities were sustainable and flourished,” Fuller said. “Many of the urban arts, such as writing, faded away, but agriculture continued and actually diversified.”

They did have to put in a little something about global warming/climate change at the end of the article.

It remains uncertain how monsoons will react to modern climate change. “If we take the devastating floods that caused the largest humanitarian disaster in Pakistan’s history as a sign of increased monsoon activity, than this doesn’t bode well for the region,” Giosan said. “The region has the largest irrigation scheme in the world, and all those dams and channels would become obsolete in the face of the large floods an increased monsoon would bring.”

But this is an important point and I think a whole lot more research needs to be done on changes in climate in the past. I suspect that the rise and fall of empires has as much to do with the energy output of the sun and changing winds and currents as anything humans can do.