Ignoring Instead of Learning Lessons From the Medieval Warming Period

I’m reading a fascinating history book by Ian Morris called Why the West Rules–For Now. Morris writes frequently about the role climate has played throughout history.

He writes about the Medieval Warming Period at some length. This is the Medieval Warming Period (MWP) that Michael Mann ‘disappeared’ with his Hockey Stick Chart and was the subject of at least one email to David Deming:

Those who are forced to grudgingly admit that there was a MWP often say it was only regional in nature, confined to a few locations and didn’t occur simultaneously. History says otherwise.

Morris writes in his book, (p. 363) ‘As if these strains were not enough, after 900 Eurasia came under a new kind of pressure–literally; as Earth’s orbit kept shifting, atmospheric pressure increased over the landmass, weakening the westerlies blowing off the Atlantic into Europe and the monsoons blowing off the Indian Ocean into southern Asia. Averaged across Eurasia, temperatures rose 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit between 900 and 1300 and rainfall declined by perhaps 10 percent.

As always, climate change forced people to adapt, but left it up to them to decide just how to do that. In cold, wet northern Europe this so-called Medieval Warm Period was often welcome, and population probably doubled between 1000 and 1300. In the hotter, drier Islamic core, however, it could be less welcome. Overall, population in the Muslim world probably fell by 10 percent, but some areas, particularly in North Africa, flourished.”

Writing of southwest Asia during that time, Morris continues: “Cities shrank, irrigation canals silted up and marginal villages were abandoned. In the hot, dry weather of the Medieval Warm Period farmers had to struggle constantly just to keep their precious fields from reverting to steppe and desert, but Seljuk policies made their jobs harder still.”

The situation was different in Europe: “…warmer weather brought northern Europe longer growing seasons and higher yields, making previously marginal lands potentially profitable. By the time the Medieval Warm Period wound down, farmers had plowed up vast tracts of what had once been forest, felling perhaps half the trees in western Europe.”

On the other side of Eurasia, the MWP was there and of great benefit to China. Morris writes, “Extraordinary as the Neo-Confucians’ achievements were, though, they paled into insignificance compared with a second development going on at the same time, an economic expansion to rival ancient Rome’s. The Medieval Warm Period was a boon almost everywhere in China: lake sediments, the chemistry of stalagmites, and textual records all suggest that the semiarid north go more rain, just what its farmers wanted, while the wet south got less, which suited that region’s farmers too. China’s population grew to perhaps 100 million by 1100.”

The Medieval Warm Period existed and had a great effect on the populations of the world.

If we lived in a society where climate science was actually informing policy, we would be studying that period of time for lessons that might help us adapt as our planet warms.

Instead, Konsensus activists with an ax to grind and the determination to never admit error are allowing the narrative to be rewritten to suit their hysteria, air-brushed out of climate journals–if not out of history.

Morris’ book is excellent and I recommend it highly.


4 responses to “Ignoring Instead of Learning Lessons From the Medieval Warming Period

  1. So the Islamic conquest could have been driven in part by regional climate conditions, apparently. Interesting insight. Your conclusion about the Konsensus is spot on.

    • Perhaps not surprising that Islamic clerics recently issued–what? A fatwa against climate change? Maybe just a call to action…

      • The “Islamic clerics” who issued a statement weren’t issuing a fatwa. It was simply a document signed by some Muslims, most of which didn’t have much weight in the Muslim community. I recently discussed the use of agitprop techniques in recent times, and this statement is another example of how agitprop is used to sway the population to support a cause.

        As you know, I escaped from communist Cuba, so I devoted a lot of my free time to research censorship, agitprop and propaganda methods. Agitprop is a Soviet term, but the technique has been honed to perfection in the USA, and is used by all sides (it’s a specialized branch of Madison Avenue marketing culture and practices, but since it’s carried out by large political entities it has absolutely no bounds or constraints).

        By the way, I didn’t become fully aware of how pervasive and dominant was this technique until I moved to post Soviet Russia, and my job required that I interact with Russians who had worked in their intelligence organizations. This gave me an opportunity to discuss recent and ongoing events with individuals whose information sources were quite alien to what I had been used to get. As time went by I realized there were Western sources which confirmed the Russian version, but I had simply discarded anything which contradicted “conventional wisdom”. The unique opportunity to learn these lessons is what taught me that most of our reality is a lie.

      • Tom,
        I guess what I am getting at is that in a sense climate (or the inability to adapt to it) can be on a very large scale perspective behind things like big migrations.
        So good governance- effective, balanced, responsible- is a key to helping people adapt to the inevitability of change.
        The klimate konsensus reduces adaptation because it is costs a great deal of money to do nothing effective, balanced or responsible. It is a universal excuse, absolving government of failing its basic obligations.

        Your insights are always fascinating.

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