Monday, June 04, 2012


"the Mongol invasion cooled the planet, effectively scrubbing around 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere."

One of the flaws of climate change theory is that there have been large scale shifts in global climate many times in the past, far earlier than the modern era. However, some researchers are hard at work trying to find a way humans influenced the climate in the past.

The Institute of Global Ecology at Carnegie has put out a study that claims Genghis Khan cooled the planet through his slaughter and conquest.
"It's a common misconception that the human impact on climate began with the large-scale burning of coal and oil in the industrial era," says Pongratz, lead author of the study in a press release. "Actually, humans started to influence the environment thousands of years ago by changing the vegetation cover of the Earth‘s landscapes when we cleared forests for agriculture."

The answer to how this happened can be told in one word: reforestation. When the Mongol hordes invaded Asia, the Middle East, and Europe they left behind a massive body count, depopulating many regions. With less people, large swathes of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The Mongol invasion had the most significant impact. According to the study's accounting, re-growth of forests during the Mongol invasion absorbed 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere, equaling the amount of carbon global society now produces annually from gasoline.
Bryan Nelson at Mother Nature Network that "The 700 million tons of carbon absorbed as a result of the Mongol invasions roughly equals the amount of carbon global society now produces annually from gasoline."
In the study published in The Holocene, Pongratz along with Carnegie colleague, Ken Caldeira, and German colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, compiled a model of global land cover beginning in 800 AD. She kept her eye on four historical events closely, which she theorized could have impacted the climate due to the return of forests after depopulation: the Black Death in Europe (the end of the 14th Century), the fall of China's Ming Dynasty (the last half of the 17th Century), the conquest of the Americas (the 16th and 17th Centuries), and the Mongol invasion of the 13th and 14th Century.

"We found that during the short events such as the Black Death and the Ming Dynasty collapse, the forest re-growth wasn't enough to overcome the emissions from decaying material in the soil," explains Pongratz.
So I guess that John Kerry would say modern industry is reminiscent of "Jenjis Khan."

How did they calculate this? You guessed it, computer modeling. Since it has worked so well in the past for climate change alarmists. This kind of theorizing isn't new, however. In 2003 a scientist named William Ruddiman proposed that neolithic man's shift from hunting to agriculture caused global warming by clearing land for crops and some believe that high end estimates of 90 million deaths from European-introduced diseases in the Americas created global cooling.

There's a bit of a flaw in their theorizing, though (aside from how spectacularly inaccurate computer modeling of global climate has proven). These changes were in relatively small areas, and if there was any actual climactic changes, it would have been very localized, not global. So Genghis Khan's butchery of enemies wouldn't have changed the climate in Mexico, or Australia, or even northern Russia, since he was only concerned with a path across southern Asia.

Further, while trees are able to absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen, they aren't the only plant on earth that does so.

Scientists estimate that plankton (the tiny plants in the ocean) convert at leasthalf the world's CO2 concentrations into oxygen, and every plant does so. Cutting down lots of trees in an area will reduce that area's photosynthesis, but planting lots of crops will increase it. Its not like farmers are scouring the land down to bedrock and leaving it that way.

The idea that the planet is that fragile and susceptible to change is a bit difficult to believe, since their estimates suggest that the planet should have warmed significantly more than it really has, based on these alleged previous climate events humans are supposed to have caused.

Oh wait, their estimates do claim warming is supposed to have been higher than it has been, in the alarmist computer models. The fact that it has not been that warm does not deter them, however. It works in the lab, and they get paid to do the work, often by your tax dollars. Who cares if its right, as long as it works on paper? By this kind of argument, Mt Kraktoa's explosion should have caused decades of climate change rather than a single year. Hurricane Katrina should have been lauded as a force to save us from global warming by flattening human development and killing lots of people.

It all comes down to a strange sort of contradictory concept: that humans are both insignificant parts of the world and yet so powerful and influential that they change the very planet they live on. The idea that humans are no more than animals and human life is not special or sacred, and yet humans are above and outside the circle of life, a force of destruction and harm. Too often the attitude seems to be that humanity is the exception to all the rules they otherwise agree to such as survival of the fittest instead of being a critical part of the biosphere.

But I suppose if you need to reject the idea of humans being made in God's image, the principle that the world was created and is guided and sustained by a divine influence, and that all is working toward a God-intended purpose, suddenly everything becomes chaos and we have to save ourselves from the doom we're creating by being intelligent and creative.

1 comment:

Eric said...

There is an archeological site in eastern Oklahoma called the Spiro Mounds, which is the westernmost outpost of an ancient and far flung Indian mound-building culture known as the Caddo Missisissipians. Nobody knows why these people abandoned the area but one of the prevailing theories is that they encountered a prolonged period of drought (aka climate change) which spurred them to change from a settled farming culture to a nomadic buffalo hunting culture.

Ever since I read about that, I've had this image stuck in my head of a Caddoan Medicine Man (the scientist of his day) explaining the drought to his tribesman by saying "You build too much fire. Make sky dry up."

How little things have changed...