Dreading the Inevitable Global Cooling; Little Ice Ages Periodically Cause Great Human Affliction

Article excerpt


I recently toured Portugal and Spain, where the clashes between civilizations and little ice ages were especially violent. The impact of climate change on the Iberian Peninsula over the centuries vividly demonstrate why we should not fear global warming. The effects of any plausible warming scenario for the coming decades will only be positive and contribute to the flourishing of civilization. They always do.

Iberia's first towns and cities emerged during the long Bronze Age Warming that began around 3300 B.C. The Bronze Age was spurred by the discovery of the new metal, which mixed tin with copper to produce superior axes, plowshares and other edged tools. Calm seas allowed traders to bring the tin from such sources as Cornwall in England and northern Turkey.

The first large towns and port cities were created for the metalworkers and the traders who transported the tin. Then the bronze forges became targets for marauders, so the urban centers were fortified.

After 1200 B.C., the Bronze Age Warming ended and a thousand-year Iron Age Cooling began. It brought short, cloudy summers, prolonged

drought, heavy floods and failed crops. The towns were abandoned, and the seas became too stormy for the tin merchants to travel. Iberia's survivors moved back to scattered farms, mostly in the few places where there were still reliable sources of water.

Around 200 B.C., the climate changed again, into the long Roman Warming. The Romans were poised with the engineering and energy to create humanity's first big empire. They welded an area that today comprises more than 30 different countries into a trading bloc that stretched from Britain and Germany in the north to Morocco and Egypt in the south and eastward to Hungary, Constantinople and Turkey.

For the next 800 years, Iberia was best known as a Roman province whose grain exports helped feed the empire, thanks to the gravity-fed irrigation organized by the Romans. Around 600 A.D., the long Roman Warming ended, and the awful cold of the Dark Ages began. Prolonged drought struck both Spain and North Africa. Rome's population fell from more than 1 million people to just 20,000 in a century. The bubonic plague may have been almost as bad as the famines, killing millions of the former Roman Empire's population. …