A Few Things Ill Considered

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

send this to... Digg it! | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Reddit | Furl | Spurl

Vineland Was Full of Grapes

(Part of the How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic guide)

This article has moved to ScienceBlogs

It has also been updated and this page is still here only to preserve the original comment thread. Please visit A Few Things Ill Considered there. You may also like to view Painting With Water, Coby Beck's original fine art photography.



  • At March 09, 2006 3:19 AM, Blogger Peter Hearnden said…

    Cracking website Coby :) . Btw, I take your pov wrt chaos.

  • At March 09, 2006 12:49 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Thanks Peter :)

    I turned the chaos comments at the weather page into a new article.

  • At August 31, 2006 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Coby,
    Just checked out your site! It's a nice one. I'm a Nordic so I'm familiar with the old Norse sagas .

    Well, according to them of course Greenland was not only green, only the southern part and coastal areas were green, like itis the case today.

    Regarding the grapes, the saga tells us that two foreigners who had worked in England and some Mediterranean country did recognize the vines to be the same as in their old countries.

    Regarding this berry theory, this was a conclusion made after that the settlements in L'Anse aux Meadows were found, and on this latitude no grapes of course don't grow. However, today wild grapes grow near the Boston area.

    We also know how hard it could be to believe everything what old sagas tell us , but for sure the Vikings were experienced seamen and the descriptions of their voyages on the seas should be trustworthy.

    Sorry, my English is not too good.

  • At August 31, 2006 12:36 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi, glad you like the site. Don't worry, your english is fine! I'm sure there must be alot of fascinating material in those sagas, including what you provided, thanks for that.

  • At September 01, 2006 3:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Coby, according to the saga the Vikings consumed whales , so it's a bit strange that some scientists mention the Vikings didn't eat fish!Of course the whale isn't a fish but anyway the Norse were very familiar with whales and in NewFoundland there have been found big hollows that are thought to be used for whale cooking, the same goes for Greenland.

    And according to the saga the Vikings did trade with the Indians on a few occasions...


  • At September 01, 2006 7:54 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Ann,

    Don't forget that the lack of any evidence of fish in the diet was entirely peculiar to the Norse on Greenland. The fact that fish were part of other Norse diets, as you point out, only makes it a bit more of a mystery!

  • At January 29, 2007 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And the fact that England was producing grapes at a rate that threatened France's production. Oh, and there is clear evidence of crops, normally associated with southern Europe growing in Norway. Hmmm, very localized indeed. I'm sure Ice Cores are more reliable. We need to cut back on Greenhouse gases, but to scare everyone into putting their eggs into one basket will be disasterous. The Earth will still get warmer and the oceans will rise..we may want to put some resources into the inevitable.

  • At January 29, 2007 2:22 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Can you please substantite your claim that England ever rivaled France in wine production please?

    I would argue that ice core records are indeed more reliable as climate indicators than records of wine production, btw. Have a read here at Real Climate for a very illuminating exposition on English wine production as a climate proxy.

    BTW, France, England, Norway are all part of the same region, a region that by all indications did have a pronounced MWP

  • At January 30, 2007 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Understood Colby, but you are arguing in this article that the accounts of the vikings may have been evidence of isolated warming or where marketing fabrications. However, they are part of a larger well documented increase in temperatures at least in the northern hemisphere known as The Medival Warming Period. The effects are well documented in Europe, Russia, and if you believe them, the America's by the vikings.

    My point being that the Last major Ice Age ended only 10-15,000 years ago and we have had major cycles of climate change which trend towards a warmer climate. We need to distinguish between "Global Warming" and "Greenhouse Gases" but that doesn't play into the desires of people whose major concern is tying something as potentially devistating as global warming with pollution. Again, Limited resources. We need to focus what resources we have towards the solutions that represent the biggest potential benefit. And if the Ocean level is going to rise 50 inches over the next 100 years, it won't give me much comfort knowing I prevented 12 of those inches by cutting greenhouse gases.

  • At January 30, 2007 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    read the article, interesting points but still neglects the wider impact of the Midievel Warming Period and focuses purely on grape growing as opposed to the written accounts from people in England and France that the surge in production was due to the significant increase in temperature. It also doesn't account for the crops that were grown in Norway. Google the Medieval Warming Period with some key words like Norway, England, crops and read a little more. Each area in itself doesn't represent a definate climate increase, but when you take into account all of these areas, then you are seeing something comparable to what we have today.

  • At January 30, 2007 12:43 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Re: preventing 12" SLR by 2100

    Please don't forget that the world does not stop in 2100 even if the IPCC projections do. If we allow much more warming we will be committed to the complete disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet and perhaps the West Antarctica ice sheet. Those would mean 6 and 8 metres respectively total SLR which is a huge deal, even if it will take some unknown number of centuries. I know North America is very young but there are plenty of cities in the world on the costs that are over 1000 years old. If your kids won't live to see it happne does that mean it is totally irrelevant?

  • At January 30, 2007 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    You miss understood my point. Yes I'm concerned about global sea-levels rising and I do understand that the world doesn't magically stabilize in 2100. What I'm saying is that the climate has been getting warmer NATURALLY for the last 10,000 years. It will probably continue to do so without man's influence. Yes, man has exacerbated the situation in the last 2-3 decades, but how much is their influence? I've read some suggestions that it is responsible for around 12% of the increase (much less than the 24% in the scenario above).

    The point I'm making is that, with LIMITED RESOURCES, to address the situation, we need to evaluate how many go into reducing Greenhouse Gases and how much goes into engineering and relocation projects to handle rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, and the many natural disasters that can result from each. By fooling the public into believing that stopping greenhouse gases will stop global warming (often referred to as the same thing) we are setting everyone up for a disappointment.

    BTW, I've done some quich research into tree rings, earth cores, and ice cores. They are usefull but in no way conclusive. They relly too much on the assumption that the weather patterns, ice shelves, glaciers have remained constant. The only way to evaluate past global climate with today's would be to have accurate temperature readings from the same locations for several periods from 1000 to 1850 AD. Having said that, I'll stick to eye witness accounts over ice cores any day (and ice cores over tree rings).

  • At January 30, 2007 3:34 PM, Blogger coby said…

    I don't know why you think the climate has been warming for the last 10K years. After finishing its climb out of the last glaciation some 10-12K yrs ago the general trend has been a gradual cooling if anything. Have a look here:

    You might also consider reading the GW is nothing new article.

    I tend to share your dissatisfaction with the various proxies (except the ice cores, but they are too coarse) but it is all we have. I don't know how you could trust various anecdotal accounts of crops etc, talk about assumptions! BTW, there are actual measurements in countries like England that do go back into the 17th century. England has broken all previous records of annual mean temperature.

  • At January 31, 2007 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ok, the trend is towards cooling since 8,000 years ago with several large spikes and dips. However, the same graph you're referring to clearly shows a major spike similar to the one we are on happening around 1,000 years ago about the time of the MWP. Additionally, The spike during the MWP and in several other periods was much more extreme than it is today. So you haven't proven that this is not part of a natural cycle that may have (and I believe it has) been exacerbated in the last 2-3 decades by greenhouse gases.

    Records back to the 17th century are useless in discussing events in the 11th and 12th century. I'm not sure how you are therefore making you're statement that the mean has broken all records. The sources you provide clearly prove otherwise.

  • At January 31, 2007 11:58 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Constantly changing your standards is a classic hallmark of someone who is not sincere in trying to learn. You alternate between distrust of proxie studies and citations of proxy studies, make up your mind. If you accept them then you must accept that the global reconstructions of temperature from proxies all indicate that today's warming is unusual and more extreme.

    Anyone can look at the chart above for themselves and see that the place where 2004 is marked is far and away above any other spike in temperature in the last 8000 years.

    All that aside, studies of past temperatures can never prove or disprove that what is happening today is not natural. It is however coroborating evidence when they show this is unusual.


Post a Comment

<< Home