It has been an encouraging start to the contest for the year’s loopiest climate story.
First out of the blocks is a cracker from the geography department at University College London with the suggestion that Spanish colonisation in the Americas contributed to global cooling. Early interest is also being shown in a paper that appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggesting that a rise in temperatures stemming from climate change may increase the number of US infants born with congenital heart defects. This presumably opens up a whole new field of science – and funding – investigating the effect of latitude on vast numbers of ailments.
The global drop in temperatures started in 1300, long before the Spanish invaded the Americas. The UCL team suggested that reductions in population after the Spanish conquests and subsequent increases in tropical jungle led to more CO2 being used from the atmosphere. The report seems to suggest that this amounted to around three parts per million in the atmosphere. If true, this would be a minute amount in an atmosphere that held at the time round 280ppm of CO2. Three ppm is well within any genuine scientific margin of error. The ‘mini ice age’ was caused by many natural events and continued until around 1850. It was characterised by numerous variations in temperature across different time periods and regions in the northern hemisphere.
Needless to say the BBC led the media charge and was all over this story. Linking climate change with the genocidal activities of white colonists just ticks so many boxes, even for so-called science correspondents. What next? How the Roman warming period was brought to a premature end by the increasing demand for crucifixes?
All harmless fun, of course, except that it pushes out real and important climate science news. Missing for instance in much of the mainstream media was the remarkable news that 2018 passed without a single violent tornado (Cat EF-5) in the US. Perhaps it was missed in all that California wildfire coverage – measured less by the column inch, more by the mile. This was the first year free of the most violent tornados since recording began in 1950 and it follows a recent decreasing trend in most categories.
Blink and you might also have missed the comment from the eminent Irish scientist and meteorology professor Ray Bates that the recent IPCC report should not be regarded by policymakers as ‘a scientifically rigorous document’. Bates accused the UN body of failing to pass on recent evidence indicating a greater contribution from ‘natural variability to explain observed global temperature trends’.
But still we press on with wasting vast amounts of money to de-industrialise the planet on the basis of unproven science. Much of the developed world is signed up to political ‘settled’ science by replacing efficient oil and gas with inefficient unreliable expensive renewable energy in a heroic attempt to gain a first in the natural world by stopping the global thermostat at precisely 59F.
But already the warning signs of green disaster are starting to appear. Late last year the long-established and respected Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland warned that Scottish and UK government green energy policy was likely to lead to severe electricity blackouts.