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Columbus Blamed For Mini Ice Age

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the bringing-the-cold dept.

Earth 420

DesScorp writes "Science News reports on a story which blames a centuries long cooling of Europe on the discovery of the new world. Scientists contend that the native depopulation and deforestation had a chilling effect on world-wide climate. 'Trees that filled in this territory pulled billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, diminishing the heat-trapping capacity of the atmosphere and cooling climate, says Richard Nevle, a geochemist at Stanford University.' The story notes that the pandemics in the Americas were possibly an example of human climate manipulation predating the Industrial Revolution, though isotope measurements used during research have much uncertainty, so 'that evidence isn't conclusive.'"

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420 comments

Bla Bla Bla (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711624)

More politically correct BS.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (5, Insightful)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711734)

No, this is quite interesting.

If true, this means in less than a hundred years enough CO2 was pulled out of the atmosphere to affect the environment. If proven this adds to the evidence that the climate is pretty darn fragile. I haven't read the TFA because I am getting ready to work, but there is one rebuttle and pone possible way to "test" this hypothesis off the top of my head.

The Rebuttle: I thought previous studies claimed the Little Ice Age was more regional than global. I know it affected Europe and played a hand in colonies.

The possible test: Parts of the North East U.S., namely Pennsylvania, were heavily deforested. During the Great Depressing the government sponsored Civilian Conservation Corps. walked across Pennsylvania and replanted large tracks of forest. A half of state worth of new forest popping up should at least have a little blip on CO2 level measurement, right?

Re:Bla Bla Bla (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711802)

A better rebuttal: Old growth forests (like those deforested from the New World) have ZERO net impact on carbon dioxide levels. A mature forest releases as much carbon dioxide (from decaying organic matter) as it releases into the atmosphere. Removing a mature forest would have minimal impact on carbon dioxide levels.

Of course, I did not RTFA, so maybe the summary is just retarded.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711856)

Removing a mature forest would have minimal impact on carbon dioxide levels.

Unless you burn the wood. For fuel. As they did (except for small amounts used for building)...

Re:Bla Bla Bla (1)

myurr (468709) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711904)

Errr that would increase CO2, not reduce it as the article is claiming happened.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711952)

Sorry, you're right. However, reading TFA, it seems that the summary is a little too abridged. Cutting down mature forests and then planting new trees does reduce the total carbon dioxide, and that's what they're actually talking about.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (2, Insightful)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711974)

Yeah, environmental scientists are good at "accidentally" not figuring in criteria like that before crying out "the sky is falling".
Heat was pretty much exclusively fire ( or rubbing one bare bodkin again' another).
I like the old school thinking that the Earth has changed over time and continues to do so in spite of the money we throw at environmental research. Continents go sailing the waters,crashing into one another,pockets of elements are exposed,oil come burbling to the top,forests burn out of control over continents,volcanoes pop up spewing elements into the atmosphere,rotation reverses,poles move,comets hit, All this before man and most animals. So, now science finds life is not resilient, nor is the environment. I guess it got wore out before we got here....morons.
  Just give them more money,guarantee their careers and the Earth will once again be safe from the evil environmental scientists and we can all get some peace.

 

Re:Bla Bla Bla (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712048)

Heat was pretty much exclusively fire ( or rubbing one bare bodkin again' another).

Indeed, but there is no reason that I am aware of to believe that there was a significant change in the # of people burning logs.

The new world meant lumber (the primary export for so many years) used to build homes and navies in and for the old world, rather than to heat things. I'm not sure how the summary gets off with saying that reduced deforestation was happening because of the new world discovery.. the English and French, later America, were all about deforesting the new world with abandon.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (1, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712194)

I agree, what could the world population have been at the time? Probably not enough. Besides with naturally occurring forest fires or Indians accidentally starting forest fires( pine trees burn pretty colors for the bored, long before television, how many stories round the campfire can one listen to?). Who can say what massive CO2 blasts into the atmosphere do? Pretty good bet the sky isn't falling over it tho.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712458)

I like the old school thinking that the Earth has changed over time and continues to do so in spite of the money we throw at environmental research.

True ... but the thing to remember is that it doesn't change without a reason as most anti-AGW thinkers seem to imply.

Most of the big changes seem to be down to changes in atmospheric composition and we're busy changing the composition.

After watching the arguments for 15 years I don't think the human race will do a damn thing about it. Doing something would require a change in lifestyle which people will resist down to the last bullet even if leads to long-term improvements. The USA is particularly guilty of this because it produces most of the CO2 and has the most bullets.

When the shit finally hits the fan there will be a massive effort to geoengineer the planet to fix things. This will lead to plenty of instability and extreme weather. Most of this will hit the USA (it has big oceans on both sides), karma will be served.

Solutions? Most of the CO2 comes from electricity generation (ie. coal/gas) so nuclear power is the best bet. See other threads for discussion of this.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711976)

That might be technically true, but it would be a tiny drop in an ocean. Besides, the amount of co2 in the athmosphere is known to be a limiting factor in plant growth worldwide, so any burning of fuel would just lead to more plant growth elsewhere. A small increase might register, but it would drop back down in a few years at the very most.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712512)

No, not really. Experiments have been done and results aren't all that impressive.

Plants also need water and minerals, and space. They might grow faster for a while but eventually they'll just bump into another limit.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (2)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711886)

I think you're mixing up something.

Suppose initially there's no forest. Over 100 years a forest grows, absorbing quantity X of CO2. This carbon is now locked up in the trees.

Now eventually it reaches a stable phase. Trees absorb Y amount of CO2, produce leaves, leaves fall and rot, release Y amount of CO2. Trees die, but get replaced so the forest neither grows nor shrinks. I guess that's what you mean. But the carbon that went originally into making the trees is still locked up in the forest. Burning it will most definitely release carbon into the environment that wasn't free before.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711988)

... during those 100 years, a huge amount of plant matter gets buried (because it grows under the soil for example), and most of that will never come back up without digging it up (which is why we have oilfields). This amount increases with every step you're talking about, so forests bury co2 in the ground.

There will be some tipping point, but burning an entire forest will not release as much co2 as was used up in creating the forest, without burning it as oil millenia later.

Re:Bla Bla Bla (3, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712020)

Now eventually it reaches a stable phase. Trees absorb Y amount of CO2, produce leaves, leaves fall and rot, release Y amount of CO2. Trees die, but get replaced so the forest neither grows nor shrinks. I guess that's what you mean. But the carbon that went originally into making the trees is still locked up in the forest. Burning it will most definitely release carbon into the environment that wasn't free before.

Thus producing the OPPOSITE effect to that posited by the story.

The story speculates that forest cover increased due to depopulation of North America by diseases and weapons brought by European settlers. The resulting increase in biomass was allegedly responsible for a reduction in CO2 leading to global cooling.

The whole conjecture sounds like BS with a politically correct slant. In Europe there was an ongoing deforestation which had commenced a century or so before Columbus, and a considerable deforestation of the Americas started a century or so later. Due to the time scales of forest growth and the probable extent of any net change in forest cover, the effect on climate would have been rather limited (probably negligible).

Re:Bla Bla Bla (2)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712226)

Thus producing the OPPOSITE effect to that posited by the story.

Er, no, it's entirely consistent. The important part is the forest growing. There was an X amount of CO2 in the air, trees grew and locked up a part of it. Where do you see the opposite effect happening?

The story speculates that forest cover increased due to depopulation of North America by diseases and weapons brought by European settlers. The resulting increase in biomass was allegedly responsible for a reduction in CO2 leading to global cooling.

Right, so how is what I said the opposite of that? The forest has to grow in the first place.

Summary is incorrect (5, Informative)

Matchstick (94940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711630)

It should say "the native depopulation and consequent re-forestation" rather than "native depopulation and deforestation". In current models, it doesn't make sense that deforestation leads to cooling.

Re:Summary is incorrect (2)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711896)

I was noticing that. the summary contradicts itself. It says that the discovery caused cooling, then says that the trees reduce carbon, which reduces the heat trapping of the atmosphere. If the trees where removed and burned, increasing carbon, would not there be a warming effect from the increased heat trapping? Bad summary i suspect, but it still does not make sense to me.

Re:Summary is incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711986)

Assuming the theory was true, the deforestation prior to Columbus' arrival would have happened over many hundreds of years since the advent of agriculture in the Americas, possibly during the rise of large cities like Cahokia and Tenochtitlan. This would have caused a gradual increase in atmospheric CO2, followed by a more rapid plunge as the once-farmlands were reforested and sequestered carbon.

Again, assuming the theory is true. It sounds farfetched to me, that so many new trees could grow in a hundred years.

Re:Summary is incorrect (3, Interesting)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712484)

If the trees where removed and burned

A lot of the trees were not simply burned: they were used as lumber. Remember that by this point there was practically no virgin forest left in all of Europe, so finding a 20-50 m tall tree to use as the mainmast of a ship was difficult. And once you'd found the main mast, you still needed tremendous amounts of lumber for the rest of the ship. Mahogany and other tropical woods were highly valued for furniture; temperate hardwoods like oak and maple had uses for barrels, crates, and floors. (It is telling that, despite huge amounts of such woods in New England, the typical home was constructed and clad with conifers - spruce, pine, and cedar - because the hardwoods were in such demand and thus expensive.)

The general effect of this activity is to consume the forests, but not in a way that released a whole lot of carbon. Some of that carbon was eventually released (fires on ships was quite common) but plenty of it was sequestered at the bottom of the ocean (sinkings were also quite common).

Re:Summary is incorrect (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712306)

Old growth forests don't capture as much carbon as new growth. Cut down a stand of 1000 year old trees and let them repopulate with all new trees and the new trees will capture carbon faster as they grow and add mass at a faster rate than the maxed out trees, while the old wood retains its carbon in the form of ships, buildings, tools, etc.

Wow. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711636)

This is truly the most idiotic thing I've ever read.

And I've read a Creationist textbook.

Re:Wow. (0)

myurr (468709) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711746)

Wouldn't we also have seen a big dip around that time in all the CO2 graphs climatologists have been throwing around showing how CO2 has massively increased in the last few decades? I don't remember any such fluctuations specific to that period, so either this new theory is wrong or those graphs (and therefore data in the climate models) have all been wrong.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711776)

Yes. The OP has hit the nail on the head. This is more unmitigated bollocks from the CO2 botherers, paid for with your tax dollars.

Re:Wow. (4, Informative)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711848)

From TFS: "Tying together many different lines of evidence, Nevle estimated how much carbon all those new trees would have consumed. He says it was enough to account for most or all of the sudden drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide recorded in Antarctic ice during the 16th and 17th centuries."

So yes.

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

myurr (468709) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712066)

From TFA that 'sudden drop' in CO2 levels equates to 6 - 10 ppm. Given that the current atmospheric concentration is 392 ppm, and in 2009 CO2 levels increased by 2ppm, we're talking about tiny quantities well within the margin of error of the measuring methods used. At worst we're talking about an equivalent to 5 years of increase, based on the 2009 figure, and that was enough to trigger a mini 'ice age'? This is junk science.

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712250)

It might be, but if the reforestation alone can account for that drop in atmospheric CO2 (that's a lot of forest!), then the change in the landscape itself would certainly have an influence on local climate, possibly enough to influence Western Europe.

Also, don't be so quick to dismiss research based on an article in a popular science magazine: most journalists are incompetent, and will try to get a sensationalist angle out of anything and nothing.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711804)

Interesting. You do know that there were more people living in the America's (north and south) at that time than Europe right? That is, until the europeans killed them off. Most of the forested areas, even now, were farmland back then.

Re:Wow. (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711906)


really? i was under the impression that a major portion of the native american population was at least semi nomadic, with only a small portion being agrarian societies. If you can show me solid evidence that I am miss-informed, I would be most appreciative.

Re:Wow. (5, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712010)

This [amazon.com] is a roundup of a lot of scholarly work on what the Americas were like before Columbus. In short, the book contends that there were an awful lot of people in North America prior to the Age of Exploration who were extraordinarily susceptible to European diseases. While many practiced straight-up agriculture, a lot of others essentially "farmed" wild game - early European colonists into the Ohio Valley noted that the land often looked like European parks (i.e., trees spaced far enough apart that wagons could easily be driven between them, with occasional copses, making perfect habitat for deer), and that an extraordinarily high percentage of the trees that were there were nut-producers (i.e., they planted those and cut down anything else). It also argues that the early explorers (especially de Soto's expedition) weren't making things up when they talked about cities with tens of thousands of inhabitants lining the sides of rivers. When they died en masse, the "old-growth" forests arose.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712078)

My ancestors used to use fires to clear areas to promote certain types of animals and plants over others.
When the diseases hit, the population any many areas was reduced to 10% of the original quantity.
End of "wildlife management" practices resulted.

Cooling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711646)

Wouldn't removing all the trees ect have caused a warming? Not cooling...

Title seems backwards.

Now i'm gonna go discover my neighbors house and take all his stuff and kill his family. In 100 years i'll have a day named after me.

Re:Cooling? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711668)

Wouldn't removing all the trees ect have caused a warming? Not cooling...

Title seems backwards.

No, the title is right, the summary is wrong in writing "deforestation" instead of "reforestation".

What about the plague? (3, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711660)

If this theory is right, I think a similar effect should have occurred after the black death in Europe. Does anyone know if it got colder at that time?

Re:What about the plague? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711686)

It did. However, the Black Death also happened to occur at the tail end of the Medieval Warming Period that lasted from about 900 to 1300 AD.

Re:What about the plague? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711818)

The MWP didn't exist. Michael Mann proved it by fiddling with his hockey stick.

Re:What about the plague? (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712000)

I don't get it, if this deforestation had such huge effects, then why haven't we seen this happen in temperature graphs a dozen times ? The Sahara was ~30% forest in Roman times, so why didn't that register ?

The same question can be asked about European and Chinese forests, which came and went, or close to natural disasters that significantly shrunk forests.

Re:What about the plague? (3, Insightful)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712394)

Because whole "climate science" has just as much science innit as finance: "I think this may work, so I'll publish my thoughts as indisputable fact."

If someone missed it, they don't do the "experiment" stage of real science.

Re:What about the plague? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712206)

Cause and effect. You have them the wrong way around.

Global warming will compensate... (0)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711662)

... thereby completely undoing Columbus' environmental misdeeds!

bull pucky (-1, Troll)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711682)

This is an article in Science News - once a good publication, now just a political mouthpiece. Anyway, where do they get these "scientists"?

- First, this is all predicated on Europeans moving on a massive scale to the Americas. The author writes "By the end of the 15th century, between 40 million and 80 million people are thought to have been living in the Americas." Given that Columbus sailed in 1492, does anyone seriously believe tens of millions of Europeans moved to the Americas in the next 8 years? Even in the next 100 years? Completely nonsensical numbers.

- Second, there was no significant variation in CO2 at that time. The deviation they point to is ridiculously small on a historical scale [grida.no] - noise.

- Third, they got the direction wrong: if forests were chopped down, they would have been burned and not allowed to regrow - thus increasing CO2, not decreasing it.

Re:bull pucky (3, Informative)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711712)

- First, this is all predicated on Europeans moving on a massive scale to the Americas. The author writes "By the end of the 15th century, between 40 million and 80 million people are thought to have been living in the Americas." Given that Columbus sailed in 1492, does anyone seriously believe tens of millions of Europeans moved to the Americas in the next 8 years? Even in the next 100 years? Completely nonsensical numbers.

The 40-80 million population refers to the natives, not the settlers.

- Third, they got the direction wrong: if forests were chopped down, they would have been burned and not allowed to regrow - thus increasing CO2, not decreasing it.

If you read the article, you;d know that the effect is due to the growth of trees in cleared areas, not the burning of trees that occurred prior to that.

Re:bull pucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711772)

So the natives that were already living there before Columbus did anything?
And how exactly will growing a new forest remove more CO2 than burning it released in the first place.
Unless they started chopping down forests and just leaving the wood lying around.

Re:bull pucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711920)

The native Americans systematically removed the forest over thousands of years to grow crops. Then people arrived from the old world and many/most of the natives died from disease or were simply killed or displaced. Then in the years before Europeans arrived in large numbers the forests regrew (in what would previously be cleared farm land from mostly slash and burn farming), reabsorbing all the CO2 that the ancient forest cover would have fixated but have been in the atmosphere for thousands of years due to actions caused by the natives. This is what they claim caused cooling.

Then obviously over the next few centuries the forests got chopped down again, but that was probably a much less dramatic change.

If this was the case, then there should be evidence for a significant drop in atmospheric CO2 levels over a generation or so.

Remember: there were anywhere between 40 and 80 million people in the americas before europians arrived. It wasn't just a few tiny pockets of tribes. They were basically nearly wiped out due to old-world diseases to which they had no immunity. Think death tolls even worse than the plague as Europeans at the time of the plague probably already had partial immunity due to previous epidemics and older slightly similar viruses.

Or think about it this way: Suppose 6 billion people die in the next few months. What would happen to the environment and therefore the atmosphere over the next century or two?

Re:bull pucky (2)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712112)

Actually Darwin's theory predicts exactly this happening : the island species in his theory.

If 2 islands are artificially separated, the species that get split up with it will start to diverge, culturally and genetically. Sometimes the species can specialize enough to be truly separate, but this hardly ever happens (and it takes hundreds of thousands of years).

So what happens in most cases if previously-split populations are reunited is that one side of the split dies off entirely : contact between genes does not result in an exchange, but in a total eradication of one side. A few studies even claim the same happens with cultures. Cultures don't merge and while cultures learn from other cultures, this can only happen through expeditions (a traveller goes out and comes back, and brings back a tiny -manageable- part of an external gene (through a viral infection with genes, through e.g. books in the case of cultures)). If all are brought in at once, one of the native species/cultures will die off at an astonishingly fast rate. Intermarriage vastly accelerates this process.

The strange thing is that sometimes temporary contact actually causes this. There's a split, but for some reason the split disappears for a short while, and then re-appears for some reason (e.g. flooding combined with rare draughts or vice-versa). This results in a short-term contact between species, which then get split up again along roughly the same lines, and this resulted in the disappearance of the species on one side of the split. The big question, of course, is why this happens. Maybe diseases are the answer, but if they are, that has managed to escape the attention of quite a few biologists who are supposed to be experts on that.

What's even weirder is that it has never once been observed that races merge, even when the initial population sizes are very close to 50-50 (except in the extreme short term: contact will result in a mixed species, but they disappear again in very short timeframes). Either 2 races (I'm talking races within species here, animals) grow completely apart (think lions versus tigers, although there's some disagreement whether they are truly separate species, google "liger", the big issue is that ligers can't reproduce) and they become able to coexist in the same place, or one side of the equation completely wins out, with at most very minor changes.

Re:bull pucky (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711944)

Unless they started chopping down forests and just leaving the wood lying around.

For example, in the form of log cabins, fences, ships, etc?

Re:bull pucky (0)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712072)

The author writes "By the end of the 15th century, between 40 million and 80 million people are thought to have been living in the Americas." Given that Columbus sailed in 1492, does anyone seriously believe tens of millions of Europeans moved to the Americas in the next 8 years?

The 40-80 million population refers to the natives, not the settlers.

This will be a confusing revelation to some victims of the US educational system, who may think even the natives arrived with Columbus...

Re:bull pucky (4, Informative)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711760)

does anyone seriously believe tens of millions of Europeans moved to the Americas in the next 8 years?

No, people do seriously believe the European invasion killed off millions of indigenous people, who, after dying, stopped their agricultural activities, which allowed forests to regrow, which sucked CO2 out of the atmosphere.

This paper contends that that decrease in CO2 cooled Europe.

Re:bull pucky (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711862)

It's far and away the stupidest paper I've ever read on AGW, and as you can imagine, that's up against some pretty stiff competition.

Re:bull pucky (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712180)

Actually, the problem with this is more basic. No matter when you date the start of the Little Ice Age, the cooling started at least as early as 1300 (when warm summers stopped being dependable in Northern Europe) and probably around 1250 (when the North Atlantic glaciers started to expand).

Re:bull pucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712286)

Actually, the problem is even more basic than that: people are so stupid that they believe their actions even back in the 1400's could have global climatic consequences. Humanity is a thin layer of slime covering vanishingly small parts of a landmass which itself is only a small part of the the planet's surface.

Giant egos are giant.

The entire thing is a function of liberal guilt, liberal ego and the liberal love of a cause, any cause. That in itself is the most toxic thing on the planet's surface.

Re:bull pucky (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712344)

So, the vikings are to blame?

Re:bull pucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712488)

Only for the name you have on weekdays, not for the climate change. (Climate change correlates with pirates, not vikings.)

Re:bull pucky (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712478)

Shhhh. Don't confuse these neo-Luddites with inconvenient things like facts.

Oh lord (0, Flamebait)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711684)

Just reading part of this is bad enough. We dont need more stupid news to feed climate change skeptics.

The maunder minimum was a local effect, not global. Also removing CO2 at that level is hardly likely to create such dramatic and localized effects. Why dont we have dozens of these drops with mass forest burning now?

You do realize their are kooks on both sides (5, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711742)

Some are worse than others. Some love to paint with a broad brush using open ended phrases like your "Climate Change Skeptics".

Skeptic about which claims? There are hundreds of climate change issues and there equally hundreds of opposing opinions. Each side has their facts so where does a skeptic fall? I tend to agree with some and disagree with others yet under your banner I am lumped in with the kooks.

There is a whole industry out there which only tries to assign guilt, much of it to gain moral superiority but quite a bit is built on making a profit. Climate change discussions didn't get very far until some very large companies learned how to use politicians to make a lot of money off of it. Look at GE, poster child of abusing this process, we give them two billion dollars to further develop wind technologies which is already in their best interest to do so? They then pile on the deductions to have nearly an effective zero rate of taxes?

The real climate skeptics should be applauded because most of science is being used to hide an agenda whose only goal is to pad specific pockets. Its well funded and marketed and much of it has governments behind it because the politicians love money.

Re:You do realize their are kooks on both sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711960)

I love how 'some people are padding their wallets' is somehow a valid argument against the predicted models of current and future climate change.

It isn't, and if you're still alive the next 10 or 20 years you'll feel rather silly. (and guilty)

Re:You do realize their are kooks on both sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712136)

You're absolutely right. "Greed" is only an argument when it's used to promote nutty conspiracy theories AGAINST the "climate deniers" and how they're all Big Oil shills.
You just keep telling them that they're going to look stupid when we all die in a decade, like you've been doing several decades. Meanwhile, you won't need to wait that long.

Re:You do realize their are kooks on both sides (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712200)

I just find most people disagree on whether it's equally valid in economics as in climate science ...

And, like in any other science, there are plenty of valid reasons to disagree with established theories. The sad fact is that's less and less tolerated. One gets villified for accurately describing the state of climate science, and agreeing with historical trends while maintaining that predicting climate is impossible. Even after illustrating that obvious fact by comparing past published predictions to reality.

There are climate predictions, the first from the IPCC was made in 1990, and it claimed the "temperature anomaly" in 2010 would exceed 4 degrees +- 0.3 degrees, in business as usual scenario. The reality ? Less than 0.25 degrees, despite worldwide co2 emissions going up quite a bit. And of course, it's kind of a fair question to wonder why every IPCC report has erred on the same side, until AR4 dropped that nasty business of actually predicting climate ... And it's fair to compare the budget of the IPCC with e.g. Unicef, which has a scarily accurate track record when it comes to predictions, don't you think ?

And as for what this means ? I don't know. Well, except for one thing, of course : it means the IPCC is hopelessly inept at predicting climate.

Re:Oh lord (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712104)

There are clues of the Little Ice Age in Antarctic ice wich suggest that it was global.

Yawnsies, more ecomental white self hatred? (0)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711688)

Must be a Friday, when all the non-stories get dumped. Is it even worth challenging the "science" in this claim? I'm just so tired of it.

Re:Yawnsies, more ecomental white self hatred? (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712504)

You're responding to the summary. The article at ScienceNews has a different flavor.

This hypothesis builds on a previous idea that, after disease-resistant Europeans met native populations, diseases spread throughout the New World in simultaneous epidemics. There is evidence for this, including a pattern of entire New World civilizations, far inland from where Europeans settled, collapsing within a generation of their earliest arrivals. For a comparison, the Plague in Europe is known to have killed between 30% and 60% of the European population, and this is thought to have been much worse.

As the native population dropped, so too did the demand for food and consequently arable land, and as a result there was an abrupt decrease in slash-and-burn clearing of forests. The hypothesis here is that the resulting re-forestation sucked CO2 out of the air and caused cooling.

One of the confusing things about this article is that it doesn't fit the popular narrative, and "good" and "bad" are all mixed up. First, the major culprit here is not European guns -- though they effected terrible things later in history -- but European germs, for which Europeans themselves are not responsible per-se, so "good" and "bad" are complicated here. Second, we usually think of reforestation and CO2 sequestration as a "good" thing, yet here it caused too much cooling (for human populations in Europe). And finally, we usually think of Native Americans as being stewards of forests, and Europeans as being their destroyers, yet here, inadvertently, it was Europeans who caused the forests. You see how none of this matches the popular narrative?

What's the fascination with Columbus? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711710)

Do the majority of US citizens still believe Columbus discovered America in 1492?

Basically, I guess it's just a crap headline to draw the audience in? The article itself indicates that a mini ice age looks to have been *delayed* by European invasion, by wiping out the local population (both on purpose and accidently), they created a carbon sink of trees growing up in deforested areas, which they them later cut down. So I guess after a while the landscape looked closer to how it had been before the Europeans invaded?

Re:What's the fascination with Columbus? (2)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711828)

Short of briefly mentioning Leif Ericsson, yes, they do. That's all they'll learn in school. Confirmed with my 17yo and 14yo within the last few years, 2 different school systems, different states (MD and NJ).

crickey... (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711996)

crickey, some way to go on improving the history curriculum then! Does history teaching start with the Europeans coming to the USA, or do they do go through earlier civilisations first?

Old stuff was always the most fun stuff for us here in the UK :-) loads of Celts and Romans and Saxons and Vikings charging round the place, invading and setting fire to things. A few fine castles and a couple more invasions then it all settles down to pretty boring political and social history by the renaissance... ;-) (I think folk were a bit sheepish about the Empire when I was at school in the 70s....)

Re:crickey... (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712416)

They do a quick runthrough of the Clovis concept. They avoid the extinctions and don't permit much in the way of discussion about the various theories (ice free corridor? Boats?) and don't allow any potential pre-Clovis to leak into the discussion. The signs of pre-Columbian contact are similarly edited out, the first contact was Leif who stayed for a winter, and then Columbus.

I feel for authors of history books, after reading "Lies My Teacher Told Me", but things haven't gotten much better in the 15 or so years since that book.

Re:What's the fascination with Columbus? (2)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712114)

Christopher Columbus - A wonderful national hero - Hawked his widely discredited and since proven wrong theory (short route to China) around all the people with money to fund his project for years until he found someone gullible enough to fund it, found a small island in mid ocean, and claimed he was right, even in face of the evidence, failed to find the whole rest of the continent, and still gets all the credit ...

Re:What's the fascination with Columbus? (2)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712434)

You left out the genocide he was directly responsible for, according to Las Casas and other commentators of the time.

Re:What's the fascination with Columbus? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712120)

Short of briefly mentioning Leif Ericsson, yes, they do. That's all they'll learn in school. Confirmed with my 17yo and 14yo within the last few years, 2 different school systems, different states (MD and NJ).

I have always been interested in how the overwhelming mass of US Americans manage to completely block out the obvious fact that Native Americans were there when Columbus arrived and they were also already there when Leif Ericsson arrived. The people who discovered the Americas were ice age hunters who arrived in N-America either over land via Beringia or by boats down the coast.

Re:What's the fascination with Columbus? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712076)

Forgive me for being a bit undereducated on this point, but in what way is Columbus not hugely significant in the European discovery of the Americas? Sure, there's L'Anse aux Meadows, and I've heard (though never actually read) that fishermen had discovered the Grand Banks and traded with Newfoundland, etc. But none of those were publicized and none kicked off larger rounds of exploration and colonization, so it's a bit like saying that James Watt invented the steam engine. He didn't, but he made it a lot better - turning it from an interesting contrivance into something that could drive the Industrial Revolution.

Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711724)

Awesome, if true.

This means we don't have to worry about global warming. If shit happens, we'll just plant a buttload of trees (which will grow fast in the warm climate) to cool things down.

Awesome, if true.

White European Males: you're GUILTY!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711738)

More "progressive" BULLSHIT.

Land use affects local climate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711790)

Roger Pielke Sr. has, over the years in many papers, demonstrated that land use affects the local climate independent of whatever CO2 may be doing. Given that, deforesting North America would affect the North American climate and therefore the global climate if only by changing the average.
    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

So, tfa could be right about deforestation changing the climate and still be wrong about the mechanism. Having said the above, the little ice age definitely affected Europe. On the other hand, the last Viking was frozen out of Greenland well before Columbus discovered North America.

Climate science hurts my brain for sure. You can prove anything because there is so much conflicting evidence that you will find some data to support any theory.

Well we have an easy solution to global warming (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711822)

Well we have an easy solution to global warming then. Just depopulate America again.

Re:Well we have an easy solution to global warming (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711832)

Well we have an easy solution to global warming then. Just depopulate America again.

I know there are moral issues here, but I think these could be resolved by Harry Hill. I can just picture him now saying

I like Americans. I also like trees. Now which is best ....

Re:Well we have an easy solution to global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711872)

I know there are moral issues here, but I think these could be resolved by Harry Hill. I can just picture him now saying

I like Americans. I also like trees. Now which is best ....

Right. When could you ever imagine anyone ever uttering "I like Americans"?

Re:Well we have an easy solution to global warming (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712324)

Well we have an easy solution to global warming then. Just depopulate America again.

America isn't the only potential candidate here... areas nearer to the equator will have a more dramatic effect since the vegetation will regrow faster. Putting an end to Brazilian cattle production would be a bigger effect than neutron bombing all of rural U.S.A.

And what about the trees in America, idiots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711876)

So while the effect of them leaving Europe had a positive effect, them settling in America didn't have a negative effect too??
They had to build all buildings they needed in Europe in America too. And as far as I know, nearly all of them were built out of wood.

So in reality, the total net effect must have been negative!

This theory is seriously fuckin' stupid. It's as if they had never heard of the broken window fallacy.

Real Science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711888)

How could this be? The science is settled, there is nothing new. We know it all. Mann definitively showed there was no Little Ice Age.

How could anyone take climate science, the ghastly predictions of doom or research like this seriously? These folks get publications, financial support for research and well paid jobs for this? And to think I wasted years getting degrees that required real results and verifiable research. This is really good for laugh.

it was volcanoes and solar activity (3, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711894)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1815_eruption_of_Mount_Tambora [wikipedia.org]

Earlier midmillenial cool downs were due to a volcano in Iceland and other solar minimums as well.

Look, I'm infuriated by climate change denying morons myself, but rewriting history and ignoring basic science is not how you defeat those losers. Simple repetition of obvious scientific facts about man made warming is how you defeat oil and coal industry propaganda kool aid drinkers, not reimaging the plot of "Avatar."

Re:it was volcanoes and solar activity (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712348)

I'm infuriated by climate change denying morons myself, but rewriting history and ignoring basic science is not how you defeat those losers.

No, but slinging a little of their own style of rhetoric back their way once in awhile does keep them inline better than always, predictably, maintaining the scientific moral high ground. The Scopes monkey trial went so badly in part because the scientific representative just couldn't think outside of his world of solid scientific proof as the final word. I had a similar experience in traffic court when the officer opened with a reading of his notebook which contained a full accounting of what he imagined happened before he first saw me.

More global warming fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711924)

Right up there with the whole global temperature follows atmospheric CO2 level chart that Gore tried to sneak past everyone.

North Atlantic Oscillation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711942)

The North Atlantic Oscillation flipped from the state that warms Europe to the state that cools Europe. This is per Brian Fagen's work on the subject.

Type in the summary (2)

brillow (917507) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711964)

As stated the summary is nonsensical. It says the massive deforestation caused more carbon to be pulled from the atmosphere and reduced the earth's cooling. This makes no sense.

Reading the article, its actually massive reforestation which was caused by all the suddenly depopulated native human fields and cities.

It's still absurd though. Historical questions should be avoided in the hard sciences. It's easy to make up stories to explain trends in data, especially when they can't be experimentally validated.

Re:Type in the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712024)

Type in the summary

Typo in the heading </irony>

Re:Type in the summary (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712144)

As stated the summary is nonsensical. It says the massive deforestation caused more carbon to be pulled from the atmosphere and reduced the earth's cooling. This makes no sense.

Reading the article, its actually massive reforestation which was caused by all the suddenly depopulated native human fields and cities.

It's still absurd though. Historical questions should be avoided in the hard sciences. It's easy to make up stories to explain trends in data, especially when they can't be experimentally validated.

Isn't that global warming you're talking about? Trends in data without experimental validation.

Re:Type in the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712172)

A similar argument has been made over the Black Death a couple of centuries earlier. The (human) depopulation was responsible for abandoning and downsizing of settlements, which led in turn to a modest increase in the size of the forests, trapping more carbon and causing a modicum of cooling. No, I have no idea if it's true or not.

Re:Type in the summary (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712246)

Agendas. This is almost as absurd as the "We might get invaded by aliens if we keep changing the climate" story.

Re:Type in the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712266)

well said

Re:Type in the summary (1)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712414)

The whole article is silly...who depopulation native fields and cities? Europeans, right? Where did they live? They made their own towns and cities. They didn't just come over on boats, kill all the natives and sail back to Europe did they?

While Columbus may have done that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712118)

He did however whoop Captain Kirk's ass at a rap battle lately...

Re:While Columbus may have done that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712376)

Kirk owned him, dude. Columbus's nice accent was no match for Kirk's epic timing.

You have got to be kidding me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712298)

You fucking Warmers just wont quit.

Columbus caused an ice age. O M F G

Just one more chicken little the sky is falling story from you fucking warmers and I just know my head is going to explode.

They wonder why we wont listen to them anymore .... they spout nonsense 24-7 ... come up with ridiculous scare mongering, try to steal our money because that will fix whatever it is in their little heads they think is broken (cap and tax), ban our fucking light bulbs and now this ...

WARMERS ..... FUCK OFF

Was Colombus faster than light ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37712326)

Looks like all began far before Colombus discovery of so called "new world" (only new to European population).
- 1250 for when Atlantic pack ice began to grow
- 1300 for when warm summers stopped being dependable in Northern Europe
- 1315 for the rains and Great Famine of 1315-1317
- 1550 for theorized beginning of worldwide glacial expansion
- 1650 for the first climatic minimum.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age#Dating

But human-driven climate change is so fashionable ...

What about whaling? (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712374)

I thought that during this period, one of the major sources of lighting came from whale oil and increased as colonies formed in places where whales were abundant. If reforestation on such a small scale affected the environment so dramatically, then surely so would increased CO2 release from the energy required in the progression of imperialism?

I think these theories are simply too human-centric.

Europe + Americas != World (0)

Lieutenant_Dan (583843) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712420)

Let's just say that a few millions folks died in the span of 100 years during the conquest of the Americas; either through disease, war, displacement, or famine. Say, a few thousand Europeans moved around (remember, it was pretty pricey to have this expeditions funded).

You're forgetting:
- the movement of many slaves from Africa to the Americas
- a MASSIVE population in south-east asia which at the time was growing substantially; exponentially larger than the devasted European populations by plague and coming out of the Hundred Years War
- a considerable population in Africa, which was growing somewhat, especially in Northern Africa

That would offset any losses in the Americas.

What a stupid idea.

Prior art: The Norwegians (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712430)

Leif Ericson made it to America some 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

what reforestation? (1)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712486)

When the Europeans got to the new world they cut down more trees than ever! If there had been reforestation, where are those forests?

slow news day slashdot? (0)

lindoran (1190189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37712498)

really..
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