Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why We Need More Global Warming

By James M. Taylor

Six centuries after the Black Death ravaged Europe, the gruesomeness of the disease and its hopeless, unavoidable death sentence still assault the human psyche. Rarely a week would pass from the time the disease’s first symptoms appeared – usually an egg-sized tumor on the groin, neck, or armpit – until the victim died a painful, agonizing death. The Black Death was ravenous and gluttonous, killing off half of Europe’s population and a fifth of the global population. The disease inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write perhaps the most chilling of his short horror stories, The Masque of the Red Death.

“The ‘Red Death’ had long devastated the country,” wrote Poe. “No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal — the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.”

The symptoms of Poe’s Red Death are a little different than the symptoms of the Black Death, but the gruesomeness and despair brought on by the two are quite similar.

What brought about the Black Death? A thousand years ago, Europe was experiencing a golden age. The fair climate of the Medieval Warm Period, with temperatures similar to or warmer than today’s climate, stimulated bountiful crop production, supported unprecedented population growth, spectacularly raised human living standards, and enriched nature’s biosphere.

By the year 1300, however, the climatic good times were coming to an end. Successive cold years drove the Vikings out of Greenland, where many of the Medieval Viking villages remain buried under snow and ice to this day. Longer winters and cooler, shorter summers decimated crop production throughout Europe. The rains that fell were cold, persistent, and slow to dry up. Famine and plague, which had largely disappeared during the Medieval Warm Period, became the norm rather than the exception. And by 1350, the grim, cold climate brought about the dreaded Black Death.

The Black Death’s gruesome, powerful hold on the human psyche is readily understandable. But why is it that so many people yearn for a return to the cold, miserable conditions that spawned the Black Death?

Mitt Romney spoke on behalf of many earlier this month when he told a town hall meeting that (1) the planet has recently warmed and (2) humans have contributed to this warming. Romney then made the questionable assertion that we must do something to change this.

Since when were the Little Ice Age and the Black Death the Good Old Days? Since when did the growth in crop production, decline in famine and plague, lengthening of human life spans, and enrichment of the earth’s biosphere become things to fight tooth-and-nail simply because they would not have “naturally” occurred but for human intervention?

Read the rest here.


  1. I wouldn't get too excited about 'global warming'. If recent solar observations and predictions (another Maunder Minimum?) are correct, we may be on the verge of another Little Ice Age:

  2. We absolutely need a moment of clarity on the global warming/climate change issue: Warm is good.

    In general we consider the island of Hawaii to be a paradise, but if the world became a bit more like Hawaii, that would be a tragedy? Ha!

  3. Much of the brouhaha over tree ring and pine cone proxies that resulted in the various "tricks" to hide the fact that recent measured data diverged from the proxy data was ultimately an attempt to make the medieval warm period (MWP) go away. The "hockey stick" doesn't look so much like a hockey stick if the MWP is inserted.

    Star-gazer is right about recent solar data, but it could be much worse than that. We're basically at the end of the interglacial period, and it's possible that we could plunge into a full-blown ice age. The temperature could drop sharply in a matter of decades. I'm not predicting that, but it's going to happen sometime in the very near (geologically speaking) term.

  4. Not sure if this is a chicken/egg issue, but Rothbard had some interesting things to say about the plague. But it wasn't the weather he attributed it to, it was (not surprisingly) the rise of state power during that time.

    Maybe dwindling natural resources had something to do with the rise in state violence, but interesting perspective anyway.

  5. If you say warm is good, they're just going to change the crisis to "global cooling" to justify a different set of government controls. Remember, it was already global cooling before it became global warming.

    The real problem is government and its "solutions."