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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Europe Sets Deadline for Greenhouse Gas Reduction

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:



History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

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DEDICATED TO THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

In 2400-2700 AD, “the geologic record yields the rather startling conclusion that the climate could be comparable to that experienced during the Age of Dinosaurs, which was as warm as any time in the last billion years.” -Thomas J. Crowley, REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST: GREENHOUSE LESSONS FROM THE GEOLOGIC RECORD.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS: DEVOTED TO THE DEEP ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

TAG: Natural C02 gases have been around since the earth was formed. Science began to warn us about the increase in man-made C02 gases over a hundred years ago.

IN THE NEWS: AT A MEETING ON GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTIONS, EU LEADERS OF THE 27 EUROPEAN NATIONS AGREE ON A 20% REDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GASES FROM 1990 LEVELS. THEY HAVE SET THE END OF 2009 AS THE DEADLINE TO REACH AGREEMENT. SOME COUNTRIES SUCH AS FRANCE AND GERMANY FEAR THAT THE LIMITS WILL REDUCE COMPETITIVENESS. INCLUDED WAS A PROPOSAL TO CUT THE THE VAT TAX ON ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRODUCTS.

REARVIEW MIRROR:

*100 million BC- the Cretaceous period- height of global warming- 6 to 8 degrees above present temperatures. Very high levels of C02.
*100,000 BC –Last Ice Age begins. Modern Homo Sapiens or ‘Crogmagnon’ man adapts relatively well to colder conditions.
*1450-1890- the ‘Little Ice Age’ at its broadest definition. By the late 17th century, rivers freeze in areas where they are unfrozen today and glaciers reach their lowest altitude. Europe is plagued by frigid winters, crop failures and famines.
*1892- Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist pioneers the theory of global warming increased by C02 greenhouse gases.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Greenhouse gases were high when the world was still hot after its creation. After the earth cooled, a balanced level of greenhouse gases remained natural to the earth's atmosphere. In 5 million BC the world was still cooling when early primates walked the earth. In the last million years there have been about 17 ice ages interspersed with warm periods. These oscillations are believed to occur because of variations in the earth's orbit caused by solar radiation. Humans were still in the Middle Stone Age when the Last Ice Age occurred about 100,000 BC. We emerged at the end of the Ice Age around 15,000 BC, in the New Stone Age or Neolithic period. It was a time of warming when polar ice caps shrank and sea levels rose. Our own age, the next 17,000 years of the 'post ice age' up to present is known as the 'Holocene'. Broadly speaking, the warming trend that began at the end of the Last Ice Age has been continuing throughout the Holocene. Around 7,000 BC came a balanced sunny period or 'optimum' for humans which helped bring about farming. Throughout early human history, warming and cooling periods caused changes in cultivation, for example from rain-dependent grain to drier grape and olive cultivation and have shifted patterns of migration. One optimum (beneficial warm period) in the high Middle Ages in Europe helped in the expansion of medieval civilization. A cooling or 'pessimum' beginning about 1250 reached its nadir with drastically cold winters and famine by 1700. The pessimum contributed to the poor harvests which helped spark the French Revolution. Warming didn't begin again with any certainty until about 1850. That time coincided with the full swing of the Industrial Revolution which began to add its own C02 from fossil fuels to natural levels, slowly distorting or exaggerating the earth's natural Holocene warming trend. The Second Industrial age following 1880 and the beginnings of industrial mass society with World War I augmented greenhouse gases with the burning of fossil fuels. The first hints had already come in 1892 when the Swedish scientist Arrhenius discovered the warming effect of C02 in the atmosphere. However, weather disruptions by the greenhouse effect must be distinguished from the periodic cataclysmic disasters typical of certain regions, such as cyclones in the Indian Ocean, hurricanes in the Caribbean and floods in China. And everywhere, even in the past two centuries, there have been weather-related disasters costing tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of lives which have been forgotten in our own short-sighted, media-saturated, disaster-conscious time. The huge Chinese and Soviet Russian famines of the twentieth century that killed millions had causes that were at least partly political. The 1930s weathered terrible droughts, especially in North America, but the 1940s experienced a balmy optimum. There was a cooling trend between 1950 and 1980. It seems to be after 1980 that a an 'unnatural' warming is truly detectable. It was proven that human use of fluorocarbons had damaged the earth's protective ozone layer in polar regions, allowing for entry of harmful solar radiation. Since 1988, international bodies such as the International Panel on Climate Change have slowly ground into action, attempting to create enforceable targets for the reduction of C02 gases released in the burning of fossil fuels. The Kyoto protocol of 2001, in which 178 countries agreed to targets on C02 reductions has proven to be little more than good intentions. The last few years have suggested that global warming is accelerating more than anyone thought, with the rapid melting of the polar ice caps, the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina and record numbers of forest fires and floods around the world. Global consciousness was raised by Al Gore's 2006 documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' but good intentions are way ahead of political facts: developing nations want to burn fossil fuels to catch up with the developed world and developed nations are still approaching new, cleaner technologies with caution for fear of lowering their standard of living. In the end, the Holocene, the Age of Man, has become the age in which man took over the earth's climate, to earth's and to his own detriment.

IN A NUTSHELL: Since the beginning the earth and its atmosphere have been cooling at a slow, irregular rate with many oscillations. Over the last million years there have been about 17 ice ages, interspersed with warm periods. The 17,000 years since the end of the Last Ice age is our own epoch, the Holocene. By the end of the balmy 'optimum' of 7,000-4,000 BC, natural greenhouse gases were at the safe level at which they would be sustained until the end of the pre-industrial age in Europe in the 18th century. Despite a cooling period between 1450 and 1890, the earth has been heating gradually since the end of the last Ice Age. After the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, unnatural increases in C02 in the atmosphere would increase undetected until 1892 when then the Swedish scientist Arrhenius discovered the warming effects of C02.

THEN AND NOW: In the western world, the optimum of the 1940s, followed by a gentle cooling until 1980, appears ideal in retrospect, somehow suiting the optimism of the 1950s and 1960s. The international heat wave of 1990 and the surge of forest fires, floods and hurricanes since 2000, suggests we might have been whistling in the dark.

CONTENTS: SCROLL DOWN FOR:
DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
RELEVANT DATES
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
.PREVIOUS ENTRIES
REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
LOCATION OF NOTE:
PROFILE:
CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY
EYEWTNESS
PRESENT SITUATION
PLUS CA CHANGE
CURIOSITY
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF CLIMATE CHANGE

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: In the long geological record, our own time is called the Holocene and began as the Last Ice Age started to draw to a close, about 15,000 BC. Within that larger scale, there commenced a long period of global warming that continues today; and clearly the original causes of this 17,000 year period of warming were natural, while the causes of its present extension and acceleration are not. (Large scale climate changes usually last about 10,000 years- we may prove the exception). As glaciers and the polar caps receded, sea levels rose at about a meter per century until about 5,000 BC. Human progress moved more rapidly taking a leap forward in the "Bolling Warm Period" in northern Europe, a four-century time of intense development in hunting, crafts and other skills from about 12,200 BC to 11,800 BC but still associated with the 'Mesolithic' or 'Middle Stone Age' period. Rising water levels produced the present arrangement of continents, with Australia cut off from Southeast Asia, England separated from continental Europe, and the cutting of the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska. Further warming, favourable to the beginnings of civilization, a period known as 'the Atlantic Optimum' brought permanent human settlement in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East in abo0ut 9,000 BC and regular farming by about 7,000 BC. A so-called 'golden age' of climate followed with the 'Holocene Maximim' , a 'Neolithic' or 'Copper Age' period when ideally warm conditions may have produced the agricultural 'Garden of Eden' myths found in several cultures. Tropical growth along the Arabian Sea and relatively humid conditions in the Sahara are typical of this period. Agriculture improved along with climate and the Bronze Age European Danubian people of 4,000 BC imported grains from the Middle East, which wouldn't have survived before that time. At this point, the natural "greenhouse gases" CO2 , CH4 and nitreous oxide increased to safe levels which would remain the same until modern, pre-industrial times. The optimum exceeded itself in Mesopotamia where drought wiped out much of the population about 2000 BC. In contrast to this early 'optimum' there began a cooling and increase in rainfall known as the 'pessimum' of the Iron age around 1000 BC, descending to an especially cold wave in 450 BC during the expansion of ancient Greece. By 250 BC, the rise of Rome was qualified by a decline in rainfall which caused wheat cultivation to be replaced by vineyards and olive groves. By 170 BC, when wetter conditions had returned, so much of the Italian peninsula was taken up by vineyards and olive groves that grain had to be imported to Rome from Egypt. Far to the east, a drying out of the steppe caused Asian tribes to shift westward around 450 AD and eventually to invade the Roman Empire. We must remember that these 'pessimums' and 'optimums' are oscillations within the larger and more gradual warming that we still experience and which began about 15,000 BC. And sometimes, even, they are only local events. The next warming began around 1000 AD and reached a balmy 'optimum' around 1150 AD in Europe, although it's difficult to generalize for the rest of the globe. The 'optimum' was short-lived, for a serious European cooling, known as the 'Pessimum of the Modern Age' began about 1200. This would give way to Europe's 'Little Ice Age'.

RELEVANT DATES
-100 million BC- the Cretaceous period- height of warming- 6 to 8 degrees above present temperatures. High levels of C02
-53 million BC- age of the mammals- the world is still warm: tropical plant and primate remains have been found near the arctic circle.
-in the last 800,000 years there have been about 17 significant peaks and valleys of temperature change between –5.0 and 0 degrees Celcius. The high peaks represent interglacial periods.
-100,000 BC –Last Ice Age begins- The advance and retreat of ice ages is attributed to the Milankovitch effect- slow changes in the orbit of the earth which cause a varying effect of solar radiation on the earth’s surface. CO2 , CH4 and nitreous oxide, commonly known as green-house gases are at low levels.
-30-20,000 BC- cooling or climatic deterioration forces migrating peoples southward from Alaska.
-15,000 BC to present- the Holocene- global warming begins.
-6,000 BC -the Holocene Maximum or‘golden age’- an optimum when ‘garden of eden’ myths of abundance are born.
-4,000-3,000 BC- the warm, ‘sunny’ millennium, world-wide- said to be similar today but this example cannot be used to project a similar pattern into the future. CO2 , CH4 and nitreous oxide, commonly known as green-house gases, increase to levels found in modern, pre-industrial times.
-250 BC- declining rainfall helps to put an end to the agrarian age of the Roman Republic. Dependence on corn and wheat shifts to the cultivation of olive orchards and vineyards. Gradually, grain has to be imported from Egypt.
-1100-1200- optimum in medieval Europe; the warming trend reaches its high point, although it remains uncertain whether this was true around the globe.
-1250- cooling beigns.
-1450-1890- the ‘Little Ice Age’ at its broadest definition. Rivers freeze in areas where they are unfrozen today and glaciers reach their lowest altitude.
-1693-1694- very poor harvests in Europe.
-1890-1940- warming in north Atlantic areas like Europe and the United States. Less pronounced warming in India, Indonesia and the Middle East. Northeastern Canada, most of South America, southwest Africa, Central Asia, Pakistan, the Indian Ocean, southeast Asia and Australia are unaffected.
-1892- Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist, pioneers the theory of global warming increased by C02 greenhouse gases.
-1936- 5 million die in China's 'New Famine'.
-1942-1953- balmy, optimum summers in Europe.
-1949- Callendar, a British scientist, connects the 10% increase in C02 gases between 1850 and 1940 to the warming of Europe and North America since the 1880s.
-1950-1980- a cooling trend.
-1958- Keeling a scientist with the Kripps Institute makes the first reliable measurements of C02 at 312 parts per million and rising in the atmosphere at the Mona Loa observatory in Hawaii.
-1985- a conference of the United Nations Environmental Program and the World Meteorological Organization establishes scientific consensus on global warming.
-1988- the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lays down international consensus on scientific conclusions about climate change.
-1990- globally, the hottest year on record.
-1990- the first IPCC report leads to negotiations for a United nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (FCCC).
-1992- Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro- countries meet to sign the United nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (FCCC) . The Convention's goal is to "prevent dangerous (human) interference with the climate system." Industrialized nations agree to implement policies and measures with the aim of stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at 1990 levels by 2000.
-1995- the First Conference of the Parties (CoP1) of the FCCC held in Berlin.The second IPCC report declares ". . . the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate." This is a new benchmark of international scientific consensus.
-1996- Second Annual Conference of the Parties (CoP2) held in Geneva. Conference endorses the IPCC finding of a "discernible human influence on global climate" and that "projected change in climate will result in significant, often adverse, impacts on many ecological systems and socio-economic sectors, including food supply and water resources and on human health."
-2005- Hurricane Katrina leaves thousands dead and over a million homeless in new Orleans.
-2007- severe droughts in southeast US- Cyclone in Bangladesh kills over 1,000; severe flooding in Mexico; Hurricane Felix causes severe damage in Caribbean and Central America; floods in South Asia displace 30 million. Severe forest fires in southern California, wipe out residential areas in Malibu and San Diego.
-2400-2700 AD- “The geologic record yields the rather startling conclusion that the climate could be comparable to that experienced during the Age of Dinosaurs, which was as warm as any time in the last billion years.” -Thomas J. Crowley, REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST: GREENHOUSE LESSONS FROM THE GEOLOGIC RECORD.

RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: By the middle of the thirteenth century, the 'Little Ice Age' had begun in Europe and glaciers were growing again. Late in the century, a continent away, in the American south-west, blistering drought drove native Americans southward. The pessimum in Europe, meanwhile, would continue with variations, for five hundred years, into the 19th century. There is some irony in the fact that within the larger, more gradual Holocene warming that continues today, the largest single trend may have been this long period of cooling. After 1300, glaciers expanded quickly, temperatures dropped and rainfall increased. Fishing replaced the growing of grain in Iceland. The "Little Ice Age" was at its worst between 1400 and1700. Rivers began to freeze over in winter where they had not done so before. The 17th century was a history of cruel winters, crop failures, famine. Glaciers extended farther than ever down mountain valleys. The nadir was reached at the end of the century. In 1697 one third of the population of Finland was killed by famine. Glaciers reached their maximum extent in 1710. Cold springs and cool, wet summers characterized the 18th century in Europe. The 'flour war' of 1775 in the Paris region erupted among farmers suffering crop failures. The continuing 'Little Ice Age' had its role in sparking the French Revolution: in 1788, a year before the fall of the Bastille, the French grain crop was destroyed by hail, causing drastic food shortages. The summer of 1816 proved the worst on record when famine followed frosts in July. The Little Ice age then relented and drew to a close in the middle of the 19th century. Glaciers began their retreat in 1856. The warming was extremely gradual, though, staggered dramatically in 1883 by the gigantic eruption of Mount Krakatoa in Indonesia, whose clouds of ash dimmed and cooled the atmosphere the world over. In 1892 the first theory in global warming caused by man-made C02 increases was advanced by the Swedish scientist, Arrhenius. In the early 20th century, a warming of the North Atlantic increased the growing 'optimum' in Europe. There was a slower warming in the Middle East and south Asia. In sub-tropical regions there were fewer cyclones, was less rainfall and arid regions expanded. In China and Russia, political genocide conspired with periodic drought to cause massive famines. The 1930s saw the first warming of the Arctic though it stopped around 1940 to resume again in 1970. In 1949 the British scientist Callendar, made the first provable links between C02 increases and global warming trends from the 19th into the 20th centuries. In 1966 there was famine in India. The oscillations of the 20th century are rather frequent, providing a more complex picture. 1942 to 1953 was a balmy, mild optimum followed by a cooling trend until 1980. Afterward, the present trend toward hotter temperatures began. A 1985 conference of the United Nations Environmental Program and the World Meteorological Organization established the first scientific consensus on global warming. There was widespread agreement that greenhouse gases caused by increased human economic activity, especially the use of fossil fuels, was affecting weather patterns. Since 1988, the International Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has worked toward getting coordinated international action on greenhouse gas reductions. 1990, meawhile, was the hottest year, globally, on record. In 2001, the Kyoto protocol was signed by 178 countries- a commitment to reducing greenhouse gases which has since begun to unravel due to disgreements about the need for fossil-fuel based industries to maintain the lifestyle of rich nations and raise the living standars of poor nations. Recently, the heating of the atmosphere has caused record numbers of cyclones and hurricanes, particularly in the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. One of the worst was Hurricane Katrina which more or less destroyed New Orleans, killing at least a thousand in 2005. In 2007 to 2008, heavy rainfall, mudslides, disastrous flooding, raging forest fires, freak cold spells and and massive snowfalls have been attributed to the disruption of natural weather patterns by the Greenhouse Effect.

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: From 200 million to about 2 million years ago, the world, still cooling from its creation in the Big bang, was much warmer than it is now. In the Cretaceous period, beginning about 100 million years ago, the earth was hot, about 6 to 8 degrees above present temperatures. C02 levels were much higher than now, significant changes in C02 being detectable over spans of 1 million years. (As Thomas J. Crowley writes in Remembrance of Things Past: Greenhouse Lessons from the Geologic Record, “Barring a radical change in the manner in which energy is utilized in the future, continued depletion of the fossil fuel reservoir in the next few centuries could result in levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases that are comparable to the warm time period of the Cretaceous.”) The Cretaceous is the age of the first global cooling. But at the end of that period, around 65 million BC, there was still tropical vegetation and the presence of dinosaurs near today's Arctic Circle. The dinosaurs became extinct around that time and in 53 million BC, the Eocene, of the Age of the Mammals began and early primates and tropical vegetation still flourished in the north regions. After the Miocene, beginning about 25 million BC, the Pilocene saw the emergence of Homo Erectus and the old Stone Age, with temperatures still warmer in 1 million BC than they are today. Several ice ages followed before the Last Ice Age of about 100,000 BC, in our Middle Stone Age. CO2 , CH4, and nitreous oxide, commonly known as green-house gases, were at low levels. Low sea levels associated with global cooling allowed human migrations across land bridges from Southeast Asia to Australia and from Asia across the Bering Strait to North America. The ice age reached its coldest point around 20,000 BC. Humans survived using new technologies involving fire, animal skins and methods of building. The Last Ice Age drew to a close around 15,000 BC.

LOCATION OF NOTE: The Sahara. Around 80,000 BC, during the Last Ica Age, the Aterian Middle Stone Age culture thrived in currently uninhabitable parts of the Sahara, suggesting higher rainfall and more temperate conditions. Around 20,000 BC, when the Last Ice Age was at its coldest, Neolithic people lived in the Tibetsi plateau of the Sahara, now northern Chad, in conditions that had become arid again but left rock paintings which still depicted abundant animal life. However, at the close of the Last Age, around 10,000 BC, temperate conditions returned to the Sahara which had green, fertile river valleys. As late as 6,000 BC rainfall was considerably higher in Egypt and fertile river valleys fed the Nile from what are now desert regions. Grazing on the Sahara supported horses. In 3000, BC it was still mostly grassland and savannah. Hippos and elephants thrived in the Sahara where they cannot today; pastoral peoples herded sheep and goats. Shortly afterward, however, desertification began.

PROFILE: Svante August Arrhenius (1859-1927) Swedish chemist who discovered that that C02 heats the atmosphere. Professor of chemistry in Stockholm in 1895, he became director of Nobel Institute for Physical Chemistry in 1905. He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1903) for the theory of electrolytic disscoation or ionization. His work "On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon the Temperature of the Ground inaugurated the idea that increases in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels could change temperatures on the surface of the earth. Infrared observations of the moon helped him to see the rate of absorption of C02 and water vapour. His greenhouse law stated: "If the quantity of carbolic acid increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase in nearly arithmetic progression." His theory survived much criticism but his book, 'World in the Making' speculated that C02 heating would prevent another ice age and that a warmer world would be better for civilization. Despite his off-kilter optimism, his science, doubted until fairly recently, is now fully accepted.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Since its formation, the earth has been cooling, with periods of warming separated by ice ages along the way. The last 17,000 years or 'Holocene' period, the 'age of man' has been a time of warming since the end of the last ice age. But the warming part of the cycle has been distorted by artificially produced greenhouses gases, in addition to the earth's natural C02. The Holocene is only a sliver of the entire life of the earth but if indeed C02 emissions prolong this last warm period and the cycle of ice ages has come to an end, man will have changed the environment forever, and likely for the worse.

EYE-WITNESS: The famine and drought in Russia- 1921: "Kazan...was at the head of the richest grain-growing district of the Volga valley. Now there was no grain because it had been burnt in its seed time by a terrible drought, leaving the peasants without food because their reserves had been taken up to feed the Red Army....Here in the old Tsarist days nobles had built villas...Now those houses were filled with refugees from the famine, dying of hunger and disease, and across the snow came small children, hand in hand, who had walked a long way from starving villages where their parents were already dead. Like frozen birds many of them died in the snow. There were forty homes here for abandoned or wandering children...In big, bare rooms the children were naked and huddled together like little monkeys for warmth...At one stage of the journey we found a troika...waiting for us. It had been ordered by the Commune of the district...The driver was excited by our presence...They seemed to be the only horses in the district. The others were dead and their skeletons lay on the roads, their flesh having been eaten. The villages were as quiet as death...Our guide, a tall, middle-aged peasant...led us into timbered houses where Russian families were hibernating and waiting for death. In some of them they had no food of any kind." -Philipp Gibbs on the occasion of Herbert Hoover's international relief effort for the Volga famine, 1921.

PRESENT SITUATION: The idealism of Kyoto in 2001 has given way to debate over the relative responsibility of developing nations like China and developed countries like the United States to reduce their carbon emissions. Advanced countries want lower thresholds so they can sustain their present standards of living; many developing countries want lower thresholds to enable them to burn the fossil fuels that will enable them to catch up to developing world living standards. Other nations have shown a more positive attitude, having less to gain by not complying or less to lose by complying with reduction targets.

PLUS CA CHANGE: We think of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with its roughly one thousand dead, as a catastrophe related to climate change as well as to the sub-tropical dangers of the Caribbean. But the danger may come from the Caribbean itself more than anything. Our recent broad period of warming had only just begun in the 19th century when in Galveston, Texas a hurricane killed 6,000.

CURIOSITY: After the Saale Ice Age, which was at its coldest in 250,000 BC, a global warming had arrived when Europe was still semi-tropical. By 130,000 BC the warming had melted the ice sheets, glaciers and polar ice caps, making sea levels 5 to 8 meters higher than they are today.

TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF CLIMATE CHANGE:

360 million BC- 70% of life forms on earth destroyed in a cataclysm.
200 to 2 million BC- the world is much warmer than it is now.
Cretaceous Epoch
100 million BC- the Cretaceous period- height of warming- 6 to 8 degrees above present temperatures. High levels of C02. Significant changes in levels of C02 are detectable on spans of 1 million years. “Barring a radical change in the manner in which energy is utilized in the future, continued depletion of the fossil fuel reservoir in the next few centuries could result in levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases that are comparable to the warm time period of the Cretaceous.”- Remembrance of Things Past: Greenhouse Lessons from the Geologic Record by Thomas J. Crowley.
First Cooling Begins.
-despite cooling, sub-tropical plants and animals still live far to the north.
65 million BC- end of the age of dinosaurs, whose remains have been found as far north as Alaska.
Eocene Epoch
53 million BC- age of the mammals- tropical plant and primate remains have been found near the arctic circle.
24 million BC- Miocene Epoch

5 million BC- Pilocene Epoch
-hominids walk the earth.
1.6 million BC- Pleistocene Period or Early Stone Age.
-homo erectus.
1 million BC- global climate is considerably warmer than today. Sea levels are higher by as much as 100 to 300 meters.
-in the last 800,000 years there have been about 17 significant peaks and valleys of temperature change. The high peaks represent interglacial periods.
Holstein Period in Western Europe- 700,000 to 123,000 BC.
620,000 BC- Ice age peaks (at its coldest)
420,000 BC- Ice age peaks (at its coldest). Warming begins.
Hoxinian Phase of the Hostein Inter-glacial Period. Middle Pleistocene.
330,000 BC- high sea-levels- 25 meters higher than present- the Hoxinian is named for Hoxne in eastern England.
-development of mixed woodlands in England.
320,000 BC- Ice age peaks.
-during interglacial warming periods advances appear in human development.
The Saale Glaciation Ice Age in northern Europe.
250,000 BC- Ice Age peaks
-Ice age ends, interglacial warming begins.
200,000 BC- northern Europe is semi-tropical.
-appearance of early homo sapiens.
140,000- BC- Ice age peaks (at its coldest)..
130,000 BC- next interglacial warming- temperatures similar to the present.
130,000 BC- 120,000 BC- sea levels are 5-8 meters higher than at present.
125,000 BC- end of the Saale Ice Age.
The ‘Eemian’ or Last Interglacial warming; beginning of Upper Pleistocene or Middle Paleolithic
123,000 BC- in some regions, a period of warming similar to that of the present day.
120,000 BC- ‘Barbados III’ high sea levels.
-homo sapiens Neanderthalis- stone carving, stone tools. Brain capacity is close to that of modern man.
-humid tropics on the Arabian Sea coasts.
115,000-80,000 BC –cool, wet period in Europe.
The Last Ice Age
100,000 BC –Last Ice Age begins- The advance and retreat of ice ages is attributed to the Milankovitch effect- slow changes in the orbit of the earth which change the effect of solar radiation on the earth’s surface.
-‘Saint Germain 1’ heavy forest in NE France.
-‘Barbados II’ high sea levels.
-modern Homo Sapiens or ‘Crogmagnon’ man adapts relatively well to colder conditions.
-near the equator, reduction of tropical rain forests and expansion of savannas. Northern tundras are dry.
-abundant horses and reindeer in western Europe. Mammoths provide great quantities of meat which keeps well in cold temperatures.
-CO2 , CH4 and nitreous oxide, commonly known as green-house gases are at low levels.
-due to ice and low sea levels, early humans cross the Bering Strait from Asia to populate North and South America.
80,000 BC- cooling becomes more rapid. ‘Barbados I’ sea levels equal to present. Most human settlement remains south of the Alps.
70,000 BC- low sea levels allow migrations from Asia to Australia and Asia across the Bering Straits to North America.
-heavy ‘St. Germain 2' mixed oak and woodland in NE France.
50,000 BC- homo sapiens sapiens.
End of Upper Pleistocene or Late Stone Age.
30-20,000 BC- cooling or climatic deterioration forces migrating peoples south from Alaska.
-Neolithic man thrives in the Tibesti Massif, now the center of the Sahara desert.
20,000 BC- maxumum cold of last ice age. Ice sheets 2 km thick extend as far south as St. Louis Missouri. Sea levels, due to evaporated water stored in ice sheets, are 105 meters below what they are today.
-human habitation driven south of the Alps. Mammoth hunting for food and shelter.
16,000 BC- due to low sea levels, ( 130 meters below present levels) humans cross a land bridge from Asia to Australia.
The present Holocene Period Begins with the Late Peleolithic Age.
15,000 BC–present Global Warming begins.
-plains begin to give way to forests,
Late Paleolithic.
-sea levels begin to rise, a trend that will continue until about 5,000 BC at a meter per century.
13,000 BC- due to the arrival of warm winds, wheat-fields begin to be sown in the northern Middle East.
-the land bridge of the Bering Strait is finally cut.
Mesolithic Age.
12,000-6000 BC- polar ice cap shrinks, ending the Last Ice Age.
12,200- 11,800 BC- the Bolling warm period in northern Europe- period of rapid settlement,
-intense cold period- the Older Dryas
11,600- 10,800 BC- the Allerod warm period in northern Europe- period of rapid settlement.
-human development becomes more rapid.
-water level rises, cutting off Australian Aboriginies from East Asia. Britain is cut off from Europe; Scandinavia from Germany; Russia from Alaska.
-European grasslands replaced with hardwood forest,
9,000 BC -first permanent settlements start to appear in the Fertile Crescent.
-humans start populating coastal settlements.
7,000 BC- farming begins in the Fertile Crescent.
The ‘Atlantic Optimum’- the Holocene Interglacial; the Neolithic Age.
6,000 BC world-wide warming increases- a trend that will last to the present day. Climate change on this scale usually lasts for 10,000 years.
-heavy humid tropical growth on the Arabian Sea.
-the decline in precipitation of the African-Asian Monsoon causes a drying out especially in North Africa and the Middle East which continues to this day.
-heavy ‘St Germain 2’ mixed oak and woodlands in NE France.
Holocene Maximum; Chalcolithic (Copper) age.
-‘golden age’ and ‘garden of eden’ myths of abundance are born.
5,500-2,350 BC- trend toward humidity in the Sahara.
-agriculture begins in the valley of the Indus and Mesopotamia.
Proto Dynatic Period.
4,200- 4,000 BC- Danubian people in the Rhine region begin growing grains brought from the Middle East due to temperate climate shift.
4,000-3,000 BC- the warm, ‘sunny’ millennium, world-wide, said to be similar to today but this example cannot be used to project a similar pattern into the future.
-CO2 , CH4 and nitreous oxide, commonly known as green-house gases increase to levels found in modern, pre-industrial times.
Bronze Age
3000 BC- the period of warming culminates. Warming ceases.
2000 BC- drought wipes out much of the population in Mesopotamia.
Iron Age.
1000 BC- temperatures decline. Rainfall increases.
The Pessimum of the Iron Age.
450 BC- a cold wave in Europe.
Greece
500-400 BC- decline of the ‘northern Bronze Age' in Europe.
250 BC- declining rainfall helps to put an end to the agrarian age of the Roman Republic. Dependence on corn and wheat shifts to the cultivation of olive orchards and vineyards. Gradually, grain has to be imported.
Rome
170 AD- climate dampens; but Rome’s best land is taken up by olive groves and vineyards, so grain still has to be imported.
400 AD- gradual drying out of the steppe and Gobi desert help to prompt the Barbarian invasions of Rome.
Medieval Warm Periods.
1000- warming trend begins.
1100-1200- warming trend reaches its high point.- although it remains uncertain whether this was true around the globe.
1200- The Pessimum of the Modern Age.
-heavy rains ruin English crops and vineyards.
1250 AD- glaciers begin to grow.
1276-1299- Great Drought in SW America- Indians driven southward.
1300-1800- general growth of glaciers causes a cold wet period.
-fishing replaces agriculture in Scandinavia.
1310-1323- rainy period in Europe.
1315- Europe: year of floods.
The ‘Little Ice Age’
1300-1500- cooling of the global climate.
1300-1350- fishing replaces cereal-growing in Iceland.
1450-1890- the ‘Little Ice Age’ at its broadest definition. Rivers freeze in areas where they are unfrozen today and glaciers reach their lowest altitude.
1460-1550- southwest Baltic and Thames River remain unfrozen.
-warm period peters out in 1550.
1550- cooling in Europe.
1588- an immense storm in the English Channel sinks the Spanish Armada, killing about 20,000 sailors.
1590-1850- the “long advance” of the glaciers.
1590-1650- cold winters in Europe. Crop failures in Scandinavia.
1600-1710- advance of glaciers accelerates
1630-1699- repeated periods of bad harvest in Europe.
1689-1698- severe cold in Europe: the ‘Little Ice Age.
1693-1694- very poor harvests in Europs.
1697- famine kills 1/3 of population of Finland.
1709- severe cold; crop failure and famine in Europe.
Warming returns very slowly after Little Ice Age.
1710- glaciers reach their maximum.
1710-1750- cold winters persist but summers are warmer in Europe.
1740- ‘arctic’ winter in Europe.
1750-1800- cold springs, warm autumns in Europe.
1756- the Lisbon earthquake.
1765-1775- cold, wet summers in Europe.
1755- the 'flour war'- the poor in the Paris region revolt over shortages.
1780- massive hurricane sweeps the Caribbean, leaving 20,000 dead.
1788- July 13- hail storm destroys the French harvest.
1789- severe food shortages in France.
The Industrial Revolution Increases Greenhouse Gases
1816- worst summer on record in northern Europe: frost in July followed by famine,
1849-1905- major drought in Arizona.
Little Ice Age is Over- 1856- warming: glaciers begin to retreat.
1864- cyclone in Calcutta kills 70,000.
1870-1950- glaciers in retreat
1876- cyclone in Bangladesh kills about 215,000.
1876-1879- 9 million die from drought and famine in China.
1881- typhoon is China kills 300,000.
1883- ash from the explosion of Karakatoa volacano may have caused cooling, by diffusing 18 cubic kilometers of dust through the air, blocking the sun.
1887- about 1 million die in flooding when China's Yellow River overflows its banks.
The Warming North Atlantic.
1890-1940- warming in north Atlantic areas like Europe and the United States. Less pronounced warming in India, Indonesia and the Middle East. Northeastern Canada, most of South America, southwest Africa, Central Asia, Pakistan, the Indian Ocean, southeast Asia nd Australia are unaffected.
1890-1940- in subtropical areas: decrease in rainfall, fewer cyclones, expansion of arid zones.
1890-1950- infrequency of volcanic eruptions and absence of volcanic cloud said to be a partial cause of warming.
1890- European glaciers begin to retreat.
1892- London smog results in 1,000 deaths.
1892- Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist is pioneer in the theory of global warming increased by C02 greenhouse gases.
1900- Galveston Texas hurricane kills 6,000.
1907- famine in China kills about 20 million.
1909- F4 tornado in Brinkley, Arkansas kills 49.
1910- forest fire burns 3 million acres in Idaho and Montana, leaving 86 dead.
1914-1918- World War I produces Mass Industrialized Societies.
1930s- acceleration of warming in the Arctic.
1920-1940- marginal warming in the Mediterranean.
1921- droughts in the Ukraine and elsewhere in the Soviet Union kill around 5 million.
1925- the Tri-state tornado in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana kills 700.
1928- drought ad famine in China kill 3 million.
1929-1938- warming summers in Poland, Lapland and Russia.
1931- flooding in China kills 3.7 million.
1932- famine in Russia kills 5 million.
1936- 5 million die in China's 'New Famine'.
1935- the Great Labour Day Hurricane hits the Florida Keys- the strongest ever upon landfall.
1940-1970- no further warming in the Arctic.
1941-42- 3 million dead in famines in China.

The Mid-20th Century Optimum
1942-1953- balmy, optimum summers in Europe.

1949- Callendar, a British scientist connects the 10% increase in C02 gases between 1850 and 1940 to the warming of Europe and North America since the 1880s.

1950- hurricanes start to be named alphabetically.

The Optimum Gives way to 3 decades of Cooling.
1950-1980- a cooling trend.
1952- December smog in London held responsible for deaths of 4,000.
1952- flood in Devon kills dozens.
1953- storms and flooding kill dozens in East Anglia.
1958- Typhoon Vera in Japan kills 5,000.
1958- Keeling, a scientist with the Kripps Institute makes the first reliable measurements of C02 at 312 parts per million and rising in the atmosphere at the Mona Loa observatory in Hawaii.
1962- last major smog in London.
1963- cooling accompanied by subtropical rainfall.
1966- famine in India kills 1.5 million.
1969- Hurricane Camille, hits Gulf Coast in US killing hundreds- strongest of 2oth century.
1969- famine in China kills about 200 million.
1970- Cyclone and tidal wave in Bangladesh kills about 300,000.
1971- 100,000 killed in floods in Viet Nam.
1972- blizzards kill 4,000 in Iran.
1973- monsoons in India kill 1,200.
1974- April 3-4th -340 killed in 148 separate tornados in US.
1977- 20,000 killed by cyclone in India.
1979- Hurricane David kills 2,000 in Caribbean and Eastern US.
1980: Greenhouse effect becomes apparent with warming trend. International committees get down to work.
1981- Nov 21- 104 tornadoes hit the UK.
1983- Ash Wednesday forest fires in Australia kill 1/2 million livestock and 76 people.
1985- a conference of the United Nations Environmental Program and the World Meteorological Organization establishes scientific consensus on global warming.
1988- the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lays down international consensus on scientific conclusions about climate change.
1989- tornado kills 1,300 in Bangladesh.
1990- globally, the hottest year on record.
1990- the first IPCC report leads to negotiations for a United nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (FCCC).
1991- last London smog.
1991- 130,000 killed in Bangladesh cyclone.
1992- hurricane Andrew in Florida causes 26 billion dollars in damage.
The FCCC and the IPCC.
1992- Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro- countries meet to sign the United nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (FCCC) . The Convention's goal is to "prevent dangerous (human) interference with the climate system." Industrialized nations agree to implement policies and measures with the aim of stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at 1990 levels by 2000.
1993- the Great Midwest Flood in Mississippi Valley causes 18 billion dollars in damage.
1994- March 24- the FCCC signed at Rio DeJaneiro in 1992 comes into effect.

1995- the First Conference of the Parties (CoP1) of the FCCC held in Berlin.The second IPCC report declares ". . . the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate." This is a new benchmark of international scientific consensus.

1996- -Second Annual Conference of the Parties (CoP2) held in Geneva. Conference endorses the IPCC finding of a "discernible human influence on global climate" and that "projected change in climate will result in significant, often adverse, impacts on many ecological systems and socio-economic sectors, including food supply and water resources and on human health."
1998- Hurricane Mitch causes huge damage in Honduras.
1998- 2,200 forest fires in Florida require evacuation of 80,000.
1999- 318 MPH tornado hits Oklahoma City.
Kyoto.
2001- July 7- 178 countries sign onto the Kyoto protocol.
2001- extreme flooding in Viet Nam and Cambodia
2001- extreme flooding in Mozambique and southeast Africa.
2003- devastating cedar forest fire in California.
2004- Hurricanes Charlie, Francis, Ivan and Jean hit Florida, causing 22 billion in damage.
Hurricane Katrina
2005- Hurricane Katrina leaves thousands dead and over a million homeless in new Orleans.
2005- scientists observe rapid melting of the polar ice caps and a slowing of the Gulf stream which warms northern Europe.
2006- forest fires and drought in western Canada.
2007- severe droughts southeast US- Cyclone in Bangladesh kills over 1,000; severe flooding in Mexico; Hurricane Felix causes severe damage in Caribbean and Central America; flooding in South Asia displaces 30 million. Severe flooding in Mozambique. Severe forest forest in southern California, wiping out residential areas in Malibu and San Diego.
2008- blizzards cause deaths and paralyse parts of Iran and China. Severe flooding in Peru and Bolivia.
-”The mid-range scenarios employed in IPCC projections for the end of the next century would result in global mean surface temperatures that exceed any well-documented warming in the last million years.” -Thomas J. Crowley, REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST: GREENHOUSE LESSONS FROM THE GEOLOGIC RECORD.
2400-2700 AD- “the geologic record yields the rather startling conclusion that the climate could be comparable to that experienced during the Age of Dinosaurs, which was as warm as any time in the last billion years.” -Thomas J. Crowley, REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST: GREENHOUSE LESSONS FROM THE GEOLOGIC RECORD.
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