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Monday, May 5, 2008

Burma Cyclone kills15,000


“..The Burmese feel that decision-making should be left to such low-status figures as astrologers, junior officials and foreign advisers. One who gets to the top should be spared all the inconveniences and strains associated with making choices that might trigger unpleasant emotions in others.” -Lucian W. Pye, ASIAN POWER AND POLITICS.

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A repressive government, remote from its own people, proudly isolated from the rest of the world and suspicious of outside intervention, is faced with accepting help from the international community.


*1881- typhoon is China kills 300,000.
*1886- Britain annexes Province of Burma to British India.
*1962- military chief U Ne Win overthrows Prime Minister U Nu. U Ne Win becomes chairman of the revolutionary Council, bans parliament. Ne Win pursues isolationism and a Burmese ideology- “the Burmese Way to Socialism’, a combination of Buddhism, Marxism and nationalism. Burma maintains relations solely with China.
*1970- Cyclone and tidal wave in Bangladesh kills about 300,000.

Absolute power: Surrounded by giant statues of ancient rulers, Burma's authoritarian leader Than Shwe salutes during the country's armed forces day.
Absolute power: Surrounded by giant statues of ancient rulers, Burma's authoritarian leader Than Shwe salutes during the country's armed forces day.
Photo: AP

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Tropical Cyclones in south, southeast and east Asia are increasing more in intensity than they are in frequency. The increase in their destructive power has been attributed to the increase in man-made greenhouse gases. The Sixth International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones of the World Meteorological Association (November, 2006) has concluded that "The surfaces of most tropical oceans have warmed by 0.25-0.5 degree Celsius during the past several decades. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) considers that the likely primary cause of the rise in global mean surface temperature in the past 50 years is the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations....Some recent scientific articles have reported a large increase in tropical cyclone energy, numbers, and wind-speeds in some regions during the last few decades in association with warmer sea surface temperatures. Other studies report that changes in observational techniques and instrumentation are responsible for these increases." Some important "consensus statements by the workshop are as follows:
- No individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change.
-The recent increase in societal impact from tropical cyclones has been largely caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions.
-Tropical cyclone wind-speed monitoring has changed dramatically over the last few decades leading to difficulties in determining accurate trends.
-It is likely that some increase in tropical cyclone peak wind-speed and rainfall will occur if the climate continues to warm. Model studies and theory project a 3-5% increase in wind-speed per degree Celsius increase of tropical sea surface temperatures.
-Large regional variations exist in methods used to monitor tropical cyclones. Also, most regions have no measurements by instrumented aircraft. These significant limitations will continue to make detection of trends difficult.
"The climate of Burma is completely dominated by the monnsoonal wind systems of southern Asia, and in all parts of the country at least three-fourths of the annual rainfall comes from the southwest monsoon during May through September."
-The McGraw-Hill Illustrated World Geography.

A gradual increase in the destructive power of cyclones, spurred by global warming, has combined with disastrous mis-rule in Burma to create a humanitarian catastrophe. Burma's present problems began when General U Ne Win took power in 1962 and proceeded to make himself chairman of a Revolutionary Council and banned parliament. The radical isolation of the Burmese nation that continues today got under way when Ne Win promulgated an ultra-natioanlist ideology- “the Burmese Way to Socialism", a combination of Buddhism, Marxism, nationalism and isolationism. The only country with which Burma maintained relations was China. Following his xenophobic ideas, U Ne Win expelled the Chinese and Indian traders who comprised Burma's middle class, thus breaking the back of the economy. Though he left office in 1971, U Ne Win managed to keep a stranglehold on all power and decision-making through his Burmese Socialist Program Party. So broken was the economy that riots exploded in 1988, the same year that Aung San Suu Kyi the daughter of the revered founding father, Aung San, returned to Burma. The army dealt with the protests by killing three thousand. Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi founded the opposition movement, the National League for Democracy. Saw Maung, one of the triumverate of Generals who presently rules Burma, used the occasion to overthrow U Ne Win, set up a new dictatorship and rename the country Myanmar. In 2006, Genral Than Shwe, suddenly and with seeming arbitrariness moved the capital to the remote, inland region of May Pyi Taw. In May, 2007, leading democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, already several years back under house arrest, had another year added to her confinement. In early September a 500% hike on fuel prices pushed the Burmese beyond endurance- a population that has never really recovered or seen relief from the blundering, ideologically inspired "Burmese Socialism" of 1962. Protests by Burmese monks were ruthlessly suppressed by the military.

In 1974, before South Asia was to know an increase in the power of cyclones, Burma became a one-party socialist state under President U Ne Win. Meteorologists calculate that it was after 1977 that the effects of man-made greenhouse gases measurably increased the severity (though not the frequency) of tropical cyclones.







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'.

1864- cyclone in Calcutta kills 70,000.
1876- cyclone in Bangladesh kills about 215,000.
1881- typhoon is China kills 300,000.
1886- Britain annexes Province of Burma to British India.
1930- Rangoon badly damaged by an earthquake and tidal wave.
1937- Burma separates from the British Empire.
1947- in London, Aung San negotiates Burma’s independence and conceives the new Burmese Constitution.
1948- Jan 4- Burma formally attains independence.
1950- the power released by tropical cyclones since 1950 has roughly doubled, with most of the increase taking place over the last 30 years.
1958- Typhoon Vera in Japan kills 5,000.
1962- military chief U Ne Win overthrows Prime Minister U Nu. U Ne Win becomes chairman of the revolutionary Council, bans parliament. Ne Win pursues isolationism and a Burmese ideology- “the Burmese Way to Socialism’, a combination of Buddhism, Marxism and nationalism. Burma maintains relations solely with China.
1970- Cyclone and tidal wave in Bangladesh kills about 300,000.
1973- monsoons in India kill 1,200.
1977- 20,000 killed by cyclone in India.
1977- increase in the power of tropical cyclones escalates.
1988- riots due to a growing economic crisis, break out in Rangoon. They are centred around Sule Pagoda. Security Forces kill 3000 protesters.
-Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, returns to Burma to care for her dying mother. She co-founds the National League for Democracy and becomes its General Secretary. She makes it into a mass movement for non-violent change.
-General Saw Maung overthrows Nu Win in a military coup and imposes martial law.
-the government’s State Law and order Restoration Council imposes martial law and imprisonment without trial, bans public meetings and prohibits Aung Suu Kyi from holding office.
-Aung San Suu Kyi defies the government and tours the country, giving talks.
- the military junta places Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.
1989- tornado kills 1,300 in Bangladesh.
1990- globally, the hottest year on record.
1990- Aung San Suu Ky’s National league for Democracy wins80 % of the vote in elections. Many new MPs are jailed. The military’s own party gains only 10 seats.
-Government Ignores NLD Victory; repression continues.
-1991- Aun San Suu Kyi is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
1991- 130,000 killed in Bangladesh cyclone.
1995- Hurricanes in North and Central America increase in frequency due to the warming of the tropical part of the North Atlantic, probably caused by greenhouse gases.
1999-Cyclone kills 10,000 in India.
2005- February- Constitutional talks last the whole year without representation from opposition groups. There is no result.
2005- December- Burma is hit by the massive Indian Ocean Tsunami though news of damage and lives lost is offocially re[ressed.
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.
2007- May- another year is added to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest.
September- the government ends the Constitutional Convention after declaring constitutional talks complete.
-mass public demonstrations and protests after the government raises fuel prices

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.

The Irrawaddy Delta before the cyclone hit (left) and after (right) [Image: Nasa]

The two satellite photos above from the US space agency Nasa show the devastating affect of Cyclone Nargis which swept over the Irrawaddy delta region of Myanmar on Saturday. (Courtesy of Al

Europe sets Deadline for Greenhouse Gas Reduction 3/15/08
Burma Cracks Down on Buddhist-led Protests 9/26/07

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: Rangoon: Probably founded in the 6th century, Rangoon began as a fishing village though it was marked by Shwedagon Pagoda. The presence of the Shwedagon, the most renowned temple in Burma, led King Alaungapaya to make the village his capital in 1753. He also developed 'Yangon', as Rangoon is known in Burma, as the country's main ocean port. The British occupied the city from 1824 to 1826 during the First Burmese War. It came under permanent British rule in 1852 after the Second Burmese War and the British set about building it as a modern city. In 1920, the University of Rangoon was founded and in the same year students staged mass deomstrations against British rule.In 1930, Rangoon was badly damaged by an earthquake and tidal wave. The city was further damaged during World War Two. In 2006, Rangoon losts its status as capital city when General Than Shwe moved the site of the cappital to a remote region- May Pyi Taw, in the town of Pyinmana, 200 miles to the north- apparently on the advice of an astrologer.

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 dissciation 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: Burma's History can be divided roughly in five: an early history before the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century, a long period of invasion and internal dissension until the eighteenth century followed by a high period after 1752 when the country was unified by King Auanghpay. There follows the British colonial period of 1824-1947 and finally a modern period of independence to the present day. The short period of the rule of King Auanghpay, after Burma's three-century recovery from the Mongol invasions, appears to be the only time when the country knew historical "greatness." This might explain, at least in part, the introversion and single-mindedness with which Burma's rulers have attempted, however desperately and artificially, to manufacture a national legacy.

As to climate change, the earth, since its formation, 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.

on Burma's secretive response to lives lost in the 2005 Indian Ocean Tsunami. From the website: World Changing, Change Your Thinking, April 27, 2008:
"The front page of every newspaper in the world today was dominated by news of the catastrophic tsunami that has claimed at least 57,000 lives in southeast Asia and east Africa. And the New Light of Myanmar is no different: 16 of the 28 headlines on the New Light website focused on the earthquake and tsunami. Some sample headlines:"Senior General Than Shwe sends message of sympathy to India"/"Vice-Senior General Maung Aye sends message of sympathy to Indonesia"/"Foreign Minister sends message of sympathy to Sri Lanka" Far down the page is the article: "Massive earthquake claims lives and property", which quotes a Reuters report, listing death tolls in the region, though none in Myanmar. At the very bottom of the page, just above "Meeting of Beans and Pulses and Sesame Merchants Association on 30 Dec", is the article Strong earthquake hits some regions in Myanmar, which acknowleged the destruction of 17 villages, 34 people killed and 200 people homeless. There's two possible explanations for this story. One is that Myanmar, with 1,930 kilometers of coastline, numerous fishing villages and huts on stilts along the coast, and a common border with Thailand - where over 1500 are reported dead - miraculously escaped the effect of the tsunami. The other explanation is that Myanmar's famously secretive military government hasn't wanted to reveal the extent of the tsunami damage to the outside world... and especially to their own citizens. (As in many represive regimes, it's easier to to get news from outside the country than news from within it.) AFP is reporting "at least 90 deaths" in Myanmar, based on accounts from UNICEF, who in turn cite "reliable sources". Radio Free Asia quotes an aid official, speaking to AFP, as saying, "Given the trajectory of the tsunami after the earthquake we would have to assume the death toll is far greater." According to AFP, UNICEF has offered food and medical assistance, but "no assistance has been requested at this juncture". RFA observes that it may be impossible to know the true extent of the damage in Myanmar: "The official said there was concern about fishing communities and the ethnic Salone and Moken, commonly referred to as sea gypsies. 'They live on the ocean, often with no documentation and they are especially vulnerable, and we may never know to what degree they have been affected,' he said."Democratic Voice of Burma, a Burmese dissident news service based in Norway, reports earthquake damage to a college building and a historical pagoda in the Irriwaddy region, as well tsunami damage to the Coco Islands, located south of the mainland in the Indian Ocean, just north of India's Andaman Islands, where at least 5,000 are reported dead. Roughly 1,000 people lived on Coco Island in 1990. How many died and how many survived Sunday's tragedy? We may never know. And if the generals in Rangoon know, they're not telling. (Thanks to Jeff Ooi for his lead on this story.)"

PRESENT SITUATION: Burma's military rulers, if they accept the major intervention which international aid would make necessary, will face the first penetration by the outside world since the Japanese and British invasions of World War Two.

Rangoon, ever vulnerable, on the Irawdaddy Delta, jutting into the Andaman Sea, and its spring monsoons and cyclones, was severely damaged by an earthquake and tidal wave in 1930.

Burma is prey to extreme variations of rainfall, with coastal cities receiving up to seven times as much rainfall as the dry interior.

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.
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.
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 and 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-North American 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.
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 paralyze 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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