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The Holocene Context for Anthropogenic Global Warming

January 3, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




Recent warming needs to be put into perspective against longer term climate trends. As HH Lamb and many others knew years ago, the world during most of the Holocene was much warmer than today.

Ed Hoskins has pulled together a lot of the evidence showing this, and it is well worth a bookmark.

This is his summary:


Our current beneficial, warm Holocene interglacial has been the enabler of mankind’s civilisation for the last 10,000 years. The congenial climate of the Holocene epoch spans from mankind’s earliest farming to the scientific and technological advances of the last 100 years.

However all the Northern Hemisphere Ice Core records  from Greenland show:

  • the last millennium 1000AD – 2000AD has been the coldest millennium of the entire Holocene interglacial.
  • each of the notable high points in the Holocene temperature record, (Holocene Climate Optimum – Minoan – Roman – Medieval – Modern), have been progressively colder than the previous high point.
  • for its first 7-8000 years the early Holocene, including its high point “climate optimum”, had virtually  flat temperatures, an average drop of only ~0.007 °C per millennium.
  • but the more recent Holocene, since a “tipping point” at ~1000BC, has seen a temperature diminution at more than 20 times that earlier rate at about 0.14 °C per millennium.
  • the Holocene interglacial is already 10 – 11,000 years old and judging from the length of previous interglacials the Holocene epoch should be drawing to its close: in this century, the next century or this millennium.
  • the beneficial warming at the end of the 20th century to the Modern high point has been responsible the “Great Man-made Global Warming Scare”.
  • eventually this late 20th century temperature blip will come to be seen as just noise in the system in the longer term progress of comparatively rapid cooling over the last 3000+ years.
  • other published Greenland Ice Core records as well as GISP2, (NGRIP1, GRIP) corroborate this finding. They also exhibit the same pattern of a prolonged relatively stable early Holocene period followed by a subsequent much more rapid decline in the more recent past.

When considering the scale of temperature changes that alarmists anticipate because of Man-made Global Warming and their view of the disastrous effects of additional Man-made Carbon Dioxide emissions in this century, it is useful to look at climate change from a longer term, century by century and even on a millennial perspective.

The much vaunted and much feared “fatal” tipping point of +2°C would only bring Global temperatures close to the level of the very congenial climate of “the Roman warm period”.


Ed’s full post is here.

  1. January 3, 2016 5:26 pm

    Thanks, Paul.
    This was a very good article, back in June 14, ’15 I commented:

    “Thanks, Ed Hoskins. This is a very good article, with superb graphics presenting a very wide perspective.
    I have placed links to it in my climate and meteorology pages.”

    When we look at a wide perspective, the global temperature problem becomes more a question of “is the Earth close to falling off this inter-glacial period?”
    This is the real problem, not going back to Roman period temperatures.
    Either way, there’s nothing we can do to change it, we either adapt or perish, and adapting is easier with ample energy to fend off the consequences of cooling.
    But now we have a generation of scientists invested in catastrophic global warming as the most important problem facing humanity, not the assault on western civilization from terrorist Islamists, nor crippling energy poverty and lack of education, and the raise of despots that enslave their countries and other neighboring territories.

  2. David Richardson permalink
    January 4, 2016 10:12 am

    If you look at the last million years about 90% has been glacial and in the last 100,000 years about 90% has been glacial. Technically we are still in an ice age but well down the cold end of an interglacial period – the Holocene. The pattern of rapid rise out of glaciation followed by descending peaks and troughs has been a feature of one or two earlier interglacials. We are towards the end both temperature-wise and time-wise.

    As stated in the article, all bar a small part of human development has taken place during the Holocene. It is thought that less than a million people were on earth at the start of the Holocene. Ice cores suggest that CO2 levels fell to around 180 ppm during the last “ice age”. Nothing on Earth grows below 150 ppm I believe.

    9 billion people, let’s say, crammed into the unglaciated middle, trying to live off crops barely growing. Now that is a threat to take seriously, and while it will not happen overnight, it could become very challenging in less than a century once started.

  3. January 4, 2016 12:24 pm

    All of the so-called “proof” for anthropogenic climate change is from computer models. Even if the data entered is by morally upright scientists (and it is not), we simply do not know enough about how things work to get reliable answers. Of course, it allows for what they want–a lot of “statistics” and graphs which look good, back up their false claims and bamboozle the general public which has been “taught” to accept the pronouncements of so-called “experts.”

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