lunes, febrero 05, 2007

¿Y SI el calentamiento global no fuera tan malo después de todo? Miremos atrás:
Despite the insistence of Al Gore and friends, this is far from the first time the Earth has ever passed through a climatic warming period. In fact, one occurred relatively recently, the medieval warm period, more commonly known as the Little Climatic Optimum (LCO), a period stretching roughly from the 10th to the 13th centuries, in which the average temperature was anything from 1 to 3 degrees centigrade higher than it is today. Several years ago, I covered the LCO in an article detailing the climatic history of the last millennium. But it's worthwhile to cover the highlights once more, to help put the contemporary panic into perspective.

* How warm was it during the LCO? Areas in the Midlands and Scotland that cannot grow crops today were regularly farmed. England was known for its wine exports.

* The average height of Britons around A.D. 1000 was close to six feet, thanks to good nutrition. The small stature of the British lower classes (and the Irish) later in the millennium is an artifact of lower temperatures. People of the 20th century were the first Europeans in centuries to grow to their "true" stature - and most had to grow up in the USA to do it.

* In fact, famine - and its partner, plague -- appears to have taken a hike for several centuries. We have records of only a handful of famines during the LCO, and few mass outbreaks of disease. The bubonic plague itself appears to have retreated to its heartland of Central Asia.

* The LCO was the first age of transatlantic exploration. When not slaughtering their neighbors, the Vikings were charting new lands across the North Atlantic, one of the stormiest seas on earth (only the Southern Ocean - the Roaring 40s - is worse). If you tried the same thing today, traveling their routes in open boats of the size they used, you would drown. They discovered Iceland, and Greenland, and a new world even beyond, where they found grape vines, the same as in England.

* The Agricultural Revolution is not widely known except among historians. Mild temperatures eased land clearing and lengthened growing seasons. More certain harvests encouraged experimentation among farmers involving field rotation, novel implements, and new crops such as legumes. While the thought of peas and beans may not thrill the foodies among us, they expanded an almost unbelievably bland ancient diet as well as providing new sources of nutrition. The result was a near-tripling of European population from 27 million at the end of the 7th century to 70 million in 1300.

* The First Industrial Revolution is not widely known even among historians. Opening the northern German plains allowed access to easily mined iron deposits in the Ruhr and the Saarland. As a result smithies and mills became common sights throughout Europe. Then came the basic inventions without which nothing more complex can be made - the compound crank, the connecting rod, the flywheel, followed by the turbine, the compass, the mechanical clock, and eyeglasses. Our entire technical civilization, all the way down to Al Gore's hydrogenmobile, has its roots in the LCO.

But in the late 13th century, it all came to an end.
Leedlo entero.

Además será mejor que nos vayamos haciendo a la idea porque, a pesar de que la presentación del Panel Internacional sobre el Cambio Climático se ha estado presentando desde el pasado viernes como algo que requiere intervención de todos los poderes públicos para frenarlo, lo cierto es que según los propios científicos que han elaborado el informe, no hay nada que hacer:
The report said no matter how much civilization slows or reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and sea-level rise will continue for centuries.

"This is just not something you can stop. We're just going to have to live with it," Trenberth said in an interview. "We're creating a different planet. If you were to come back in 100 years' time, we'll have a different climate."
Así que será mejor que nos vayamos preparando, en lugar de hacer la vida cada vez más complicada para todos.

ACTUALIZACIÓN. Mark Steyn en plena forma:
For the last century or so, the planet has gone through very teensy-weensy warming trends followed by very teensy-weensy cooling trends followed by very teensy-weensy warming trends, every 30 years or so. And, even when we're in a pattern of "global warming" or "global cooling," the phenomenon is not universally observed -- i.e., it's not "global," or even very local. In the Antarctic, the small Palmer peninsula has got a little warmer but the main continent is colder. Up north, the western Arctic's a little warmer but the eastern Arctic's colder. So, if you're an eastern polar bear, you're in clover -- metaphorically, I hasten to add. If you're a western polar bear, you'll be in clover literally in a year or two, according to Al Gore.

And, if you really don't like the global weather, wait half-a-millennium. A thousand years ago, the Arctic was warmer than it is now. Circa 982, Erik the Red and a bunch of other Vikings landed in Greenland and thought, "Wow! This land really is green! Who knew?" So they started farming it, and were living it up for a couple of centuries. Then the Little Ice Age showed up, and they all died. A terrible warning to us all about "unsustainable development": If a few hundred Vikings doing a little light hunter-gathering can totally unbalance the environment, imagine the havoc John Edwards' new house must be wreaking.

The question is whether what's happening now is just the natural give and take of the planet, as Erik the Red and my town's early settlers understood it. Or whether it's something so unprecedented that we need to divert vast resources to a transnational elite bureaucracy so that they can do their best to cripple the global economy and deny much of the developing world access to the healthier and longer lives that capitalism brings. To the eco-chondriacs that's a no-brainer.
Me encanta el neologismo: ecocondríacos. Prometo usarlo a partir de ahora.