The German national television ZDF broadcasted a (mostly!) remarkable two part series (Part 1, Part II) on the impact of climate change on human history and development. Part I starts with the Neanderthals and ends with the beginning of the Roman Empire. Part II (which I prefer) starts with the warm Roman period and ends with the modern warm period. What is remarkable is that over the whole series, the authors insist that the recurring great climate changes are due to natural phenomena, mostly Milankovitch cycles with their changing solar irradiance and volcanic activity. For instance it is said that “die Sonne ist der Hauptakteur”, or “jede Klimaveränderung wird vom Weltall aus gesteuert”. A recurrent leitmotiv is that warmer (and more humid) periods are good for development, colder are bad.
The most interesting second part tells the stories of the last 3 warm periods (Roman, Medieval and today) and shows how a warmer climate fostered cultural, scientific and political development. And vastly increasing populations are not described as a parasitic illness destroying the planet, but as a welcome and “natural” development thriving in good climatic conditions.
Why did I start with the quantifier “mostly” ? Because the excellence of the 2 times 43 minutes is spoiled by the last 60 seconds, where Mark Maslin (University College London) closes with this sentence: “We are at a point where we can decide how the future climate will be.” This is blatant silliness, probably forced upon the professor to include at least a sentence seen to be politically correct and Zeitgeist aware. This last conclusion is the more silly, as all previous examples clearly have shown that the changes of the climate were not caused by human activity. And today, never mind our technological achievements, we are still unable to change the tilt of the axis of the globe, modify solar activity or put a lid on volcanoes to avoid their eruptions.
Nevertheless, this broadcast makes me more optimistic: could it be that the fashionable hysteria regarding an anthropogenic climate change is loosing steam, and starting to go the way typical for all fads and Zeitgeist exaggerations, i.e. dissolving into oblivion?
Read also the excellent comments of Pierre Gosselin in his blog.