L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

25 August 2008 Blog Home : August 2008 : Permalink

Harvests, Glaciers and Climate Change

First (via WattsUpWithThat) a report about the UK harvest that indicates that it is late this year and thanks to august rains is also relatively low yielding (the FWI harvests page is dismal reading today with lots of rain delay stories). This seems to be similar to the US harvest that I wrote about three weeks ago.

Interestingly though the FWI site reports that in many continental European coultries harvests are hurting due to heat and drought.

However these and other signs that 2008 is colder than most recent years don't affect the BBC where, despite all the claims of neutrality, they seem unable to subtly hint that global warming is our future. Take this article about archeological finds in Alpine glaciers. There is a lot of discussion about how the glaciers have retreated in the past and then there is:

Martin Grosjean [said] "But what we do know is that the climate has fluctuated throughout history; in the past the driving force for the changes was the Earth's orbital pattern, now the driving force is green house gas emissions."

For Martin Grosjean, the leather items found on the Schnidejoch, dated at over 5,000 years old, are proof, if any more were needed, that the Earth is now warming up.

"The leather is the jewel among the finds," he says. "If leather is exposed to the weather, to sun, wind and rain, it disintegrates almost immediately.

"The fact that we still find these 5,000-year-old pieces of leather tells us they were protected by the ice all this time, and that the glaciers have never been smaller than in the year 2003 and the years following."

All these finds do indeed make clear that the glaciers are now retreating/melting and (duh) that hence the earth is warmer now than it was before. But you note that previous bouts of global warming are pinned on the earth being in a certain orbital pattern whereas the current one is blamed on mankind. I'm not sure why this is. We are given information in the article that the alps have been warmer and that this occured (roughly) 1000 and 2000 years ago [actually the article doesn't say that it just mentions warming in Roman times (i.e. 2000 yearas ago) and in the Middle Ages (1000 years ago)]. The article also mentions things that are 3000, 4000 and 5000 years old.

Now there could be a subtlety here that I'm missing because the article is glossing over large amounts of information but what I take from this article is that there is a 1000 year warming cycle and that this has nothing to do with mankind.

I'll also note one other interesting point. My post from 3 weeks ago had a link to a document that decribed how cooling spells could apparently occur very quickly. In the exceprt above we have

"The leather is the jewel among the finds," he says. "If leather is exposed to the weather, to sun, wind and rain, it disintegrates almost immediately.

Is it just me or is that not further evidence that glaciers can grow very very fast and hence that ice ages and other cooling events can be very swift?

All I can say is that Ringo's "The Last Centurion" is looking ever more prescient about
  1. the likely direction of actual global climate change (colder)
  2. the likely direction of political worries about global climate change (warmer)