March 27th, 2012

New evidence that the Medieval Warm Period was world-wide

Interesting. Now let’s see how this gets integrated into the narrative:

A team of scientists led by geochemist Zunli Lu from Syracuse University in New York state, has found that contrary to the ‘consensus’, the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ approximately 500 to 1,000 years ago wasn’t just confined to Europe.

In fact, it extended all the way down to Antarctica – which means that the Earth has already experience global warming without the aid of human CO2 emissions.

My guess is that AGW supporters will say it still doesn’t mean that the warming back then was global in scope. But it certainly means it will be harder to argue that it wasn’t.

Here’s more about that Medieval Warm Period, which I remember learning about—and being fascinated by—long ago, when I was in school. You probably did, too:

The Vikings took advantage of ice-free seas to colonize Greenland and other outlying lands of the far north. Around 1000AD the climate was sufficiently warm for the north of Newfoundland to support a Viking colony and led to the descriptor “Vinland”. The MWP was followed by the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling that lasted until the 19th century, and the Viking settlements eventually died out.

23 Responses to “New evidence that the Medieval Warm Period was world-wide”

  1. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    There is always a bigger question that the global warming types avoid like the plague. It is “what is the correct/normal/garden of eden time temperature?”. If we have the power to control CO2 and thus a big chunk of global temperature (let’s stipulate the models are correct), then is a colder climate like 1960 the right one? Or the warmer climate of 1100? Or the really cold one that our Neandertal cousins lived in?

    So much of Environmentalism assumes a static earth/ecology that shares more with a religious view of the Garden of Eden than any science. Despite the fact that most species are extinct, we have to preserve every possible species right now in their view. Humans are viewed as alien invaders rather than products of evolution. We are not seen as living creatures that alter their environment like every other species. After all do we consider the oxygenation of the earth by primitive algeas over a billion years to be bad?

  2. gcotharn Says:

    In addition to DirtyJobsGuy’s points, climate change persons rarely factor in that Earth climate is dynamic: is not static, is self correcting. Earth climate is far too complex to be managed by humans. The late Michael Crichton constantly made this point about complexity and inability to manage. We could not manage forests and forest fires in the American West. The history of the U.S.A. includes decades upon decades of mismanagement of Yellowstone National Park – including right up to present day. Even Yellowstone is too complex to effectively manage. We cannot possibly manage Earth’s climate.

  3. n.n Says:

    That’s a shame. Another “consensus” falls victim to science. This will become more frequent as science is properly recognized to be necessarily constrained to a limited frame of reference. There will, once again, be an effort to distinguish between philosophy (or faith) and science.

  4. n.n Says:


    The problems are two-fold. First, the climate system is incompletely characterized and, apparently, insufficiently. Second, it is unwieldy. As we attempt to extrapolate inference to ever larger subsets of the system, our statistical models become less relevant. It can only legitimately be described as a chaotic system, which limits our comprehension to its behavioral limits (assuming a certain stability). I would also guess that insufficient credit has been offered to the passive elements of the system, which ensure significant regional and local variations.

  5. Artfldgr Says:

    So your figuring out that utopians are Edenic?

    only Judeo christian Eden represents a world we want to be in compared to all the others…

    heaven, or Eden to them is akin to the middle ages at a Renaissance festival!!!!

    everyone are lords and what they want to be… no one is a tortured serf, nor do the lords torture… there is modern materials, and machining… not to mention modern first aid and emergency room care… no plagues… STDs still confound them… etc.

    except that their Eden has no god.

    they have replaced him with a balanced causational world., in which their goal is complete unbalanced balance… (a lifetime of good without a balance of bad – even death not happening)…

    ie… what evil you do comes back to you. the universe is the mechanism on this one… no god needed, just warp karma and dont get it, and bastardize it, and voila…

    or as pink Floyd said, its just one more brick in the wall… no?

    its chestertons maxim that if you believe in nothing you can believe in anything..

    the problem is that they are not going to learn from this or anything.. they will just skim over it… the warming period being confirmed is not going to register…

    why should it?

    how does its logical message translate to emotional truth?

    like rats with no chew blocks, they are people who need their anxieties and fears and panic… or else what would they do?

    if people were at all the way they claim, imagine, pretend, lie, whatever…

    then welfare would be producing huge works from mathematics and logical sciences and so on… no?

    what could an Einstein do if he didn’t have to work at the patent office? (which is how every academic thinks and why they think that living like that would be great… but then again, so few of them get to make anything that works or try to)

    As we attempt to extrapolate inference to ever larger subsets of the system, our statistical models become less relevant.

    well that makes sense since a statistical model is not a model at all…

    a statistical model can only include what you think of… it cant include what you dont think of, and what you dont think of is still buried there…

    (there is an exception to this and that is in the quantum world… but we are not talking about that scale… )

    only models in which the principals are known are actual models (on some level)…

    so orbit calculations for planets are very good models.. but they can only go so far into the future because of basic things that ALL models suffer from!

    one is whether your model actually has the actual formula embodying the actual principal… or are they very close…

    even if you have the perfect formula that really gives you good results one test at a time… it will not work in a series of states…

    the machine your going to work on has no infinite decimals, and so… rounding errors will collect… and so even orbit calculations cant go far into the future…

    the problem stems technically from the fact that the output state is the input state of the next iteration…

    as you do the calculations the rounding errors will gather and over time the simulation will deviate..

    there is also the problem of initial conditions. such mathematical constructs are actually very sensitive to initial conditions… and we cant measure well enough for that..

    so the uncertainty of the starting conditions, the rounding errors, alone are enough to make all models defunct except within certain frameworks and limitations…

    [i have written computer simulation models and such for a living as a professional]

    things get really wacko when you start adding in scale… computational capacity, etc.

    their models are incredibly bad…

    Completey dysfunctional, and yes i have seen the basis for them…

    and they are missing all kinds of things that even a kindergarten child would know is important… like variance in solar radiation.

    in fact… like eden, their idea of the sun is a steady state thing…

    which shows that they are under the illusion of most scientists which is small things dont matter, and so we can pretend they are not there..

    again, in its context, this is great… but outside of it, it doesnt apply… its a special rule for special circumstances, not a general rule..

    which is why chaos theory took them as amazing, when anyone can tell you real world things are complicated and interact in ways which constantly surprise us (as we do not know all the principals of the world)

    this is why events like the midevil warming period (for them) HAD to be local.

    you see… they were not trying to get the models to fit reality, they were trying to predict reality and force it to fit the model so they would not have to go back and start again…

    ie… they were failures refusing to fail

    or rather, they refused (for political reasons of who they serve) to concede and go back to the drawing board… so lie and game built upon lie and game… and then they got into bed with the socialists, who saw this as a reason that everyone might be stupid enough to give up everything to them.

    and they became lyseknoists… and like trofim lysenko, they sought to use “other power” to force the way for them…

    the problem is that the power is willing to buy them with such favors as its intents based not merit based and its usurps wherever such people invite it in the door to do so for them.

    they are the biggest example why the sociliast engineers, and scientists and such are always wrong about the idea of a few of them sitting in judgement of all other things to be worked on and would pick nothing but winners.

    if they have not the morals and honesty and merit to do real research and model and not act juvenile to get some power to force a win for them…

    they certainly are not able to be what they fantasize of being or doing…

  6. Parker Says:

    “The Vikings took advantage of ice-free seas to colonize Greenland … ”

    That’s why we now call it Greenland one thousand years later. 😉

  7. Sgt. Mom Says:

    Well, it is briefly green. At the height of summer. I have pictures to prove.
    Actually, I have read a couple of brief and local (Greenland) stories, to the effect that the local people rather liked how the glaciers were retreating, and they could do all sorts of subsistance-level grazing and farming again. Sorry, too late in the day to go spelunking through the bowels of the internet to find the links to back this up. Maybe Artfl will do the heavy lifting on this…

  8. Parker Says:

    Sgt. Mom,

    It was much greener and greener beyond the height of summer 1000+ years ago. That is exactly why the Vikings named it Greenland. This period, if memory serves me well, lasted less than 200 years; and as the climate switched back and glaciers once more covered 95% of the land the Viking settlements died out and/or disbanded seeking greener shores.

  9. LAG Says:

    neo, these folks can ignore the MWP with ease. Remember, they’ve ignored entire ice ages.

    Here’s another point. Dr. Lu seems to actually be doing science the old fashioned way, i.e. in contact with the real world.

    Most of the true believers live in their models, which in no way correspond to a real world.

  10. LAG Says:

    Meant to throw this out there, too. Good article in the WSJ on climate models, Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again, which includes a quote near the end by physicist, Richard Feynman, that reminds us of the fundamental principle underlying all science.

  11. Beverly Says:

    OT but noteworthy: In memoriam, Hilton Kramer, who died today. A sample….

    “In 1999, Hilton gathered some of his finest essays into a wonderful collection entitled The Twilight of the Intellectuals, whose central purpose was to disabuse readers of the naive illusion that intellectuals dwell in a light-drenched realm of thought and reason, disinterestedly searching for truth.

    “Among the Cold War–era intellectuals Hilton discussed—-the dominant intellectuals of much of the post–World War II era—-the life of the mind often was not so much a matter of reasoned discourse as of attitude, fantasy, wishful thinking, quasi-religious faith, and its attendant quasi-religious dogmas.

    “We read in the book’s pages of “myths” and “mystiques,” of “progressive sentimentalities” and “literary and cultural pieties,” to quote some recurring phrases. We read of ideas making their way not by their own cogency but by “fashion,” by “social snobbery”—-by political correctness, Hilton would have said, if the term had yet entered the language. As for the disinterested pursuit of truth and right judgement: he reminded us of how often just to utter what one knew to be true could be an act of high courage.

    Twilight’s intellectuals are primarily men and women of the left, and as such they were faced with an insurmountable problem as far as truth-telling was concerned: the only place their ideals had ever been made reality was in the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union was one of history’s bloodiest and most oppressive tyrannies. As a consequence, Hilton wrote, “The verifiable facts of history had long ago ceased to be relevant to the progressives’ act of faith.” Indeed, as he said in another essay in the book, “Their loyalty is to something other than the truth.”

    “As a judgement on the regnant intellectual orthodoxy of the postwar era and a depiction of how the intellectual world really worked, The Twilight of the Intellectuals remains bracingly plainspoken and utterly convincing; as a portrait of the careers and ideas of such prominent writers as Irving Howe, Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, and Dwight Macdonald, among others, it remains compulsively readable.

    “In its clarity of vision and of argument, embodied in prose that has the beautiful, stately, and inexorable purposefulness of a frigate under full sail, it is a model of what the intellectual life ought to be. And it is a model no less essential in these post–Cold War days, when not only is the intellectual life teeming with orthodoxies and shibboleths rather than thought, but also the very ideas of reason and truth are themselves called into question.” [Myron Magnet, the City Journal]

  12. rickl Says:

    I remember reading a National Geographic article a few years ago which said that the last Viking colony in Greenland died out in the early 1400s, only a few decades before Columbus’ first voyage. It had existed for almost 500 years.

    Oh, and there’s also evidence that Europeans reached North America 10-20,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. This appears to corroborate reports by 16th and 17th century European explorers that I’ve read, which said that East Coast “Indians” tended to be light-skinned.

  13. Pat Says:

    For a long-term view, check this article about the Carboniferous Period.

    The graph labeled “Global Temperature and Atmospheric CO2 over Geologic Time” is particularly instructive. It answers the question the alarmist won’t answer. Where did the carbon in fossil fuels come from? Mostly, it came from the atmosphere during the carboniferous period, thanks to the miracle of photosynthesis. So burning fossil fuels is actually recycling ancient carbon back into the atmosphere.

    Note that there isn’t much correlation between CO2 and average global temperatures. In the Ordovician period, when CO2 concentrations were an order of magnitude higher than now, our planet became a snowball, where glaciation reached the equator. So much for CO2 driving global temperatures.

  14. Parker Says:


    Assuming the NatGeo article is accurate, thanks for updating my remembered time frame. Still, the basics remain true. Climate change happens and what factors influence such a complex system remain far beyond the ability of those who program computer models of AGW. Junk science, garbage in garbage out.

  15. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Actually Parker I believe the term is: garbage in, gospel out.

    Also Pat the Ordovician lasted 44 million years. Over that length of time the climate must have changed again and again in ways and for reasons we will never know. As was pointed out; if we cannot understand today’s climate how can we speak with any certainty about something that happened 450 million years ago. I am very suspicious of CO2 data from so long ago. Recall what mark Twain said “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. ”

    For the non-geologists here the Ordovician Period was around 450 million years ago.

  16. sergey Says:

    Any comparisons of modern climate and earlier geological times are possible only for last 1.8 mln years, when climate system was driven by the same patterns of global oceanic and atmospheric circulation and configuration of continents was the same. Even this is possible only with some caveats: Milankovich cycles are not operable now, since elongation of the Earth orbit, which was a driver of these cycles, is very small now. We should not expect that our relatively warm climate will change to a new ice age. So, only comparisons within holocene (last 10 thousand years) are valid.

  17. SteveH Says:

    One day we’ll look back and understand all this junk science was brought on by “scientist” with junk character and junk personalities who just wanted to make a difference in the world.

    If a scientist wants to make a difference in the world, he’s already precluded what that difference should be.

  18. Surellin Says:

    When I was first reading about this back in the 70s, the term was “Medieval Optimum”. Of course, that was back when we were all going to die from a new Ice Age, so warm was good. In fact, optimal.

  19. Pat Says:

    My point was that CO2 concentrations have been much higher in the past than at present. Whether it was a factor or 5 or 15 is less relevant. Climate alarmists, like Dr. James Hansen, scaremonger about a “runaway greenhouse effect”. It might have happened on Venus, but did not happen on this planet, when CO2 concentrations were far higher.

    The video at the link shows Hansen to be an extreme scaremonger. Oceans boiling???

  20. Conrad Says:

    My unscientific take on GW is that while increased CO2 concentrations should tend to warm up the atmosphere, we don’t have a sufficient understanding of all the mechanisms involved to know how much, if any, actual warming will result from a given increase in this trace component of the atmosphere. The atmosphere may be self-regulating in some respects and there may be other factors that dwarf the impact of changes in CO2 levels. I see no cause for alarm from the GW phenomenon itself. I DO see cause for alarm in what the alarmists are proposing by way of a “solution” to AGW, which would stifle economic growth and usher in greater and greater control by the gov’t over people’s lives.

  21. John Dough Says:

    Marxism, Communism and Socialism have failed to control the masses. A new “ism” was needed to get the folks into line. Enter the new religion of AGW. Who in their right mind doesn’t want to protect and save Mother Earth? BTW, to accomplish the protection of Mother Earth we’re going to need to control almost all of human activity and tax the bejesus out of everyone.

    Just like the current OWS crowd who were raised in a Publik Skool environment that taught them the government was the source of all good and will provide free stuff, The latest generation of School Kids are being brainwashed to believe in AGW and fall inline with it tenents. I’ve spent hours talking with my grandkids about GW. It is shocking the GW bilge that they are receiving daily from the “edukators”.

    I can tell you now that this is a long range plan that may not work on the 40 somethings or 60 somethings, but the newest generation is being manipulated to the point that US President of 2024 or 28 won’t have any problem getting AGW passed…. Unless we can stop it now.

    BTW, I have been successful in getting my grandkids to start asking their beloved teachers the requisite questions on AGW, that they somehow seem to pass over. My 16 year was told to shut up and threatened with expulsion from the Dear teachers classroom if he didn’t fall into line like the rest of the lemmings.

  22. John Dough Says:

    Sorry, tenents should have read tenets.

    I was afflicted at an early age with CTF …… (Crappy typing fingers).

    The other purposeful misspellings stand as written.

  23. sergey Says:

    Conrad, your guess is exactly right. Physics of atmosphere is extremely complicated, so it is impossible to say with any degree of certainty if so called “greenhouse effect” operates in it at all, and even less possible to quantify it by measurement, observation or calculation. The main mechanism of surface cooling is not radiation, but convection, ti which 70% of energy flow can be ascribed. And it is not known how increase in greenhouse gases interacts with convection, but it is entirely possible that it leads to enhanced convection which compensate for loss of efficiency of radiative cooling.

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