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  1. The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in “advanced” countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world. The continued development of technology will worsen the situation. It will certainly subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased physical suffering even in “advanced” countries.
  2. The industrial-technological system may survive or it may break down. If it survives, it MAY eventually achieve a low level of physical and psychological suffering, but only after passing through a long and very painful period of adjustment and only at the cost of permanently reducing human beings and many other living organisms to engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine. Furthermore, if the system survives, the consequences will be inevitable: There is no way of reforming or modifying the system so as to prevent it from depriving people of dignity and autonomy.
  3. If the system breaks down the consequences will still be very painful. But the bigger the system grows the more disastrous the results of its breakdown will be, so if it is to break down it had best break down sooner rather than later.
  4. We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system. This revolution may or may not make use of violence: it may be sudden or it may be a relatively gradual process spanning a few decades. We can’t predict any of that. But we do outline in a very general way the measures that those who hate the industrial system should take in order to prepare the way for a revolution against that form of society. This is not to be a POLITICAL revolution. Its object will be to overthrow not governments but the economic and technological basis of the present society.
  5. In this article we give attention to only some of the negative developments that have grown out of the industrial-technological system. Other such developments we mention only briefly or ignore altogether. This does not mean that we regard these other developments as unimportant. For practical reasons we have to confine our discussion to areas that have received insufficient public attention or in which we have something new to say. For example, since there are well-developed environmental and wilderness movements, we have written very little about environmental degradation or the destruction of wild nature, even though we consider these to be highly important.


  1. Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeply troubled society. One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism, so a discussion of the psychology of leftism can serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern society in general.
  2. But what is leftism? During the first half of the 20th century leftism could have been practically identified with socialism. Today the movement is fragmented and it is not clear who can properly be called a leftist. When we speak of leftists in this article we have in mind mainly socialists, collectivists, “politically correct” types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and the like. But not everyone who is associated with one of these movements is a leftist. What we are trying to get at in discussing leftism is not so much a movement or an ideology as a psychological type, or rather a collection of related types. Thus, what we mean by “leftism” will emerge more clearly in the course of our discussion of leftist psychology (Also, see paragraphs 227-230.)
  3. Even so, our conception of leftism will remain a good deal less clear than we would wish, but there doesn’t seem to be any remedy for this. All we are trying to do is indicate in a rough and approximate way the two psychological tendencies that we believe are the main driving force of modern leftism. We by no means claim to be telling the WHOLE truth about leftist psychology. Also, our discussion is meant to apply to modern leftism only. We leave open the question of the extent to which our discussion could be applied to the leftists of the 19th and early 20th century.
  4. The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern leftism we call “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization.” Feelings of inferiority are characteristic of modern leftism as a whole, while oversocialization is characteristic only of a certain segment of modern leftism; but this segment is highly influential.


  1. By “feelings of inferiority” we mean not only inferiority feelings in the strictest sense but a whole spectrum of related traits: low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self-hatred, etc. We argue that modern leftists tend to have such feelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that these feelings are decisive in determining the direction of modern leftism.
  2. When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies) we conclude that he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced among minority rights advocates, whether or not they belong to the minority groups whose rights they defend. They are hypersensitive about the words used to designate minorities. The terms “negro,” “oriental,” “handicapped” or “chick” for an African, an Asian, a disabled person or a woman originally had no derogatory connotation. “Broad” and “chick” were merely the feminine equivalents of “guy,” “dude” or “fellow.” The negative connotations have been attached to these terms by the activists themselves. Some animal rights advocates have gone so far as to reject the word “pet” and insist on its replacement by “animal companion.” Leftist anthropologists go to great lengths to avoid saying anything about primitive peoples that could conceivably be interpreted as negative. They want to replace the word “primitive” by “nonliterate.” They seem almost paranoid about anything that might suggest that any primitive culture is inferior to our own. (We do not mean to imply that primitive cultures ARE inferior to ours. We merely point out the hypersensitivity of leftish anthropologists.)
  3. Those who are most sensitive about “politically incorrect” terminology are not the average black ghetto-dweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of whom do not even belong to any “oppressed” group but come from privileged strata of society. Political correctness has its stronghold among university professors, who have secure employment with comfortable salaries, and the majority of whom are heterosexual, white males from middle-class families.
  4. Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American Indians), repellent (homosexuals), or otherwise inferior. The leftists themselves feel that these groups are inferior. They would never admit it to themselves that they have such feelings, but it is precisely because they do see these groups as inferior that they identify with their problems. (We do not suggest that women, Indians, etc., ARE inferior; we are only making a point about leftist psychology).
  5. Feminists are desperately anxious to prove that women are as strong as capable as men. Clearly they are nagged by a fear that women may NOT be as strong and as capable as men.
  6. Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate the West because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them, or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in Western civilization. Thus it is clear that these faults are not the leftist’s real motive for hating America and the West. He hates America and the West because they are strong and successful.
  7. Words like “self-confidence,” “self-reliance,” “initiative”, “enterprise,” “optimism,” etc. play little role in the liberal and leftist vocabulary. The leftist is anti-individualistic, pro-collectivist. He wants society to solve everyone’s needs for them, take care of them. He is not the sort of person who has an inner sense of confidence in his own ability to solve his own problems and satisfy his own needs. The leftist is antagonistic to the concept of competition because, deep inside, he feels like a loser.
  8. Art forms that appeal to modern leftist intellectuals tend to focus on sordidness, defeat and despair, or else they take an orgiastic tone, throwing off rational control as if there were no hope of accomplishing anything through rational calculation and all that was left was to immerse oneself in the sensations of the moment.
  9. Modern leftist philosophers tend to dismiss reason, science, objective reality and to insist that everything is culturally relative. It is true that one can ask serious questions about the foundations of scientific knowledge and about how, if at all, the concept of objective reality can be defined. But it is obvious that modern leftist philosophers are not simply cool-headed logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack these concepts because of their own psychological needs. For one thing, their attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent that it is successful, it satisfies the drive for power. More importantly, the leftist hates science and rationality because they classify certain beliefs as true (i.e., successful, superior) and other beliefs as false (i.e. failed, inferior). The leftist’s feelings of inferiority run so deep that he cannot tolerate any classification of some things as successful or superior and other things as failed or inferior. This also underlies the rejection by many leftists of the concept of mental illness and of the utility of IQ tests. Leftists are antagonistic to genetic explanations of human abilities or behavior because such explanations tend to make some persons appear superior or inferior to others. Leftists prefer to give society the credit or blame for an individual’s ability or lack of it. Thus if a person is “inferior” it is not his fault, but society’s, because he has not been brought up properly.
  10. The leftist is not typically the kind of person whose feelings of inferiority make him a braggart, an egotist, a bully, a self-promoter, a ruthless competitor. This kind of person has not wholly lost faith in himself. He has a deficit in his sense of power and self-worth, but he can still conceive of himself as having the capacity to be strong, and his efforts to make himself strong produce his unpleasant behavior. [1] But the leftist is too far gone for that. His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.
  11. Notice the masochistic tendency of leftist tactics. Leftists protest by lying down in front of vehicles, they intentionally provoke police or racists to abuse them, etc. These tactics may often be effective, but many leftists use them not as a means to an end but because they PREFER masochistic tactics. Self-hatred is a leftist trait.
  12. Leftists may claim that their activism is motivated by compassion or by moral principle, and moral principle does play a role for the leftist of the oversocialized type. But compassion and moral principle cannot be the main motives for leftist activism. Hostility is too prominent a component of leftist behavior; so is the drive for power. Moreover, much leftist behavior is not rationally calculated to be of benefit to the people whom the leftists claim to be trying to help. For example, if one believes that affirmative action is good for black people, does it make sense to demand affirmative action in hostile or dogmatic terms? Obviously it would be more productive to take a diplomatic and conciliatory approach that would make at least verbal and symbolic concessions to white people who think that affirmative action discriminates against them. But leftist activists do not take such an approach because it would not satisfy their emotional needs. Helping black people is not their real goal. Instead, race problems serve as an excuse for them to express their own hostility and frustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harm black people, because the activists’ hostile attitude toward the white majority tends to intensify race hatred.
  13. If our society had no social problems at all, the leftists would have to INVENT problems in order to provide themselves with an excuse for making a fuss.
  14. We emphasize that the foregoing does not pretend to be an accurate description of everyone who might be considered a leftist. It is only a rough indication of a general tendency of leftism.


  1. Psychologists use the term “socialization” to designate the process by which children are trained to think and act as society demands. A person is said to be well socialized if he believes in and obeys the moral code of his society and fits in well as a functioning part of that society. It may seem senseless to say that many leftists are over-socialized, since the leftist is perceived as a rebel. Nevertheless, the position can be defended. Many leftists are not such rebels as they seem.
  2. The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way. For example, we are not supposed to hate anyone, yet almost everyone hates somebody at some time or other, whether he admits it to himself or not. Some people are so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally imposes a severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a non-moral origin. We use the term “oversocialized” to describe such people. [2]
  3. Oversocialization can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc. One of the most important means by which our society socializes children is by making them feel ashamed of behavior or speech that is contrary to society’s expectations. If this is overdone, or if a particular child is especially susceptible to such feelings, he ends by feeling ashamed of HIMSELF. Moreover the thought and the behavior of the oversocialized person are more restricted by society’s expectations than are those of the lightly socialized person. The majority of people engage in a significant amount of naughty behavior. They lie, they commit petty thefts, they break traffic laws, they goof off at work, they hate someone, they say spiteful things or they use some underhanded trick to get ahead of the other guy. The oversocialized person cannot do these things, or if he does do them he generates in himself a sense of shame and self-hatred. The oversocialized person cannot even experience, without guilt, thoughts or feelings that are contrary to the accepted morality; he cannot think “unclean” thoughts. And socialization is not just a matter of morality; we are socialized to confirm to many norms of behavior that do not fall under the heading of morality. Thus the oversocialized person is kept on a psychological leash and spends his life running on rails that society has laid down for him. In many oversocialized people this results in a sense of constraint and powerlessness that can be a severe hardship. We suggest that oversocialization is among the more serious cruelties that human beings inflict on one another.
  4. We argue that a very important and influential segment of the modern left is oversocialized and that their oversocialization is of great importance in determining the direction of modern leftism. Leftists of the oversocialized type tend to be intellectuals or members of the upper-middle class. Notice that university intellectuals (3) constitute the most highly socialized segment of our society and also the most left-wing segment.
  5. The leftist of the oversocialized type tries to get off his psychological leash and assert his autonomy by rebelling. But usually he is not strong enough to rebel against the most basic values of society. Generally speaking, the goals of today’s leftists are NOT in conflict with the accepted morality. On the contrary, the left takes an accepted moral principle, adopts it as its own, and then accuses mainstream society of violating that principle. Examples: racial equality, equality of the sexes, helping poor people, peace as opposed to war, nonviolence generally, freedom of expression, kindness to animals. More fundamentally, the duty of the individual to serve society and the duty of society to take care of the individual. All these have been deeply rooted values of our society (or at least of its middle and upper classes (4) for a long time. These values are explicitly or implicitly expressed or presupposed in most of the material presented to us by the mainstream communications media and the educational system. Leftists, especially those of the oversocialized type, usually do not rebel against these principles but justify their hostility to society by claiming (with some degree of truth) that society is not living up to these principles.
  6. Here is an illustration of the way in which the oversocialized leftist shows his real attachment to the conventional attitudes of our society while pretending to be in rebellion against it. Many leftists push for affirmative action, for moving black people into high-prestige jobs, for improved education in black schools and more money for such schools; the way of life of the black “underclass” they regard as a social disgrace. They want to integrate the black man into the system, make him a business executive, a lawyer, a scientist just like upper-middle-class white people. The leftists will reply that the last thing they want is to make the black man into a copy of the white man; instead, they want to preserve African American culture. But in what does this preservation of African American culture consist? It can hardly consist in anything more than eating black-style food, listening to black-style music, wearing black-style clothing and going to a black-style church or mosque. In other words, it can express itself only in superficial matters. In all ESSENTIAL respects more leftists of the oversocialized type want to make the black man conform to white, middle-class ideals. They want to make him study technical subjects, become an executive or a scientist, spend his life climbing the status ladder to prove that black people are as good as white. They want to make black fathers “responsible.” they want black gangs to become nonviolent, etc. But these are exactly the values of the industrial-technological system. The system couldn’t care less what kind of music a man listens to, what kind of clothes he wears or what religion he believes in as long as he studies in school, holds a respectable job, climbs the status ladder, is a “responsible” parent, is nonviolent and so forth. In effect, however much he may deny it, the oversocialized leftist wants to integrate the black man into the system and make him adopt its values.
  7. We certainly do not claim that leftists, even of the oversocialized type, NEVER rebel against the fundamental values of our society. Clearly they sometimes do. Some oversocialized leftists have gone so far as to rebel against one of modern society’s most important principles by engaging in physical violence. By their own account, violence is for them a form of “liberation.” In other words, by committing violence they break through the psychological restraints that have been trained into them. Because they are oversocialized these restraints have been more confining for them than for others; hence their need to break free of them. But they usually justify their rebellion in terms of mainstream values. If they engage in violence they claim to be fighting against racism or the like.
  8. We realize that many objections could be raised to the foregoing thumb-nail sketch of leftist psychology. The real situation is complex, and anything like a complete description of it would take several volumes even if the necessary data were available. We claim only to have indicated very roughly the two most important tendencies in the psychology of modern leftism.
  9. The problems of the leftist are indicative of the problems of our society as a whole. Low self-esteem, depressive tendencies and defeatism are not restricted to the left. Though they are especially noticeable in the left, they are widespread in our society. And today’s society tries to socialize us to a greater extent than any previous society. We are even told by experts how to eat, how to exercise, how to make love, how to raise our kids and so forth.


  1. Human beings have a need (probably based in biology) for something that we will call the “power process.” This is closely related to the need for power (which is widely recognized) but is not quite the same thing. The power process has four elements. The three most clear-cut of these we call goal, effort and attainment of goal. (Everyone needs to have goals whose attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed in attaining at least some of his goals.) The fourth element is more difficult to define and may not be necessary for everyone. We call it autonomy and will discuss it later (paragraphs 42-44).
  2. Consider the hypothetical case of a man who can have anything he wants just by wishing for it. Such a man has power, but he will develop serious psychological problems. At first he will have a lot of fun, but by and by he will become acutely bored and demoralized. Eventually he may become clinically depressed. History shows that leisured aristocracies tend to become decadent. This is not true of fighting aristocracies that have to struggle to maintain their power. But leisured, secure aristocracies that have no need to exert themselves usually become bored, hedonistic and demoralized, even though they have power. This shows that power is not enough. One must have goals toward which to exercise one’s power.
  3. Everyone has goals; if nothing else, to obtain the physical necessities of life: food, water and whatever clothing and shelter are made necessary by the climate. But the leisured aristocrat obtains these things without effort. Hence his boredom and demoralization.
  4. Non-attainment of important goals results in death if the goals are physical necessities, and in frustration if nonattainment of the goals is compatible with survival. Consistent failure to attain goals throughout life results in defeatism, low self-esteem or depression.
  5. Thus, in order to avoid serious psychological problems, a human being needs goals whose attainment requires effort, and he must have a reasonable rate of success in attaining his goals.


  1. But not every leisured aristocrat becomes bored and demoralized. For example, the emperor Hirohito, instead of sinking into decadent hedonism, devoted himself to marine biology, a field in which he became distinguished. When people do not have to exert themselves to satisfy their physical needs they often set up artificial goals for themselves. In many cases they then pursue these goals with the same energy and emotional involvement that they otherwise would have put into the search for physical necessities. Thus the aristocrats of the Roman Empire had their literary pretentions; many European aristocrats a few centuries ago invested tremendous time and energy in hunting, though they certainly didn’t need the meat; other aristocracies have competed for status through elaborate displays of wealth; and a few aristocrats, like Hirohito, have turned to science.
  2. We use the term “surrogate activity” to designate an activity that is directed toward an artificial goal that people set up for themselves merely in order to have some goal to work toward, or let us say, merely for the sake of the “fulfillment” that they get from pursuing the goal. Here is a rule of thumb for the identification of surrogate activities. Given a person who devotes much time and energy to the pursuit of goal X, ask yourself this: If he had to devote most of his time and energy to satisfying his biological needs, and if that effort required him to use his physical and mental facilities in a varied and interesting way, would he feel seriously deprived because he did not attain goal X? If the answer is no, then the person’s pursuit of a goal X is a surrogate activity. Hirohito’s studies in marine biology clearly constituted a surrogate activity, since it is pretty certain that if Hirohito had had to spend his time working at interesting non-scientific tasks in order to obtain the necessities of life, he would not have felt deprived because he didn’t know all about the anatomy and life-cycles of marine animals. On the other hand the pursuit of sex and love (for example) is not a surrogate activity, because most people, even if their existence were otherwise satisfactory, would feel deprived if they passed their lives without ever having a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. (But pursuit of an excessive amount of sex, more than one really needs, can be a surrogate activity.)
  3. In modern industrial society only minimal effort is necessary to satisfy one’s physical needs. It is enough to go through a training program to acquire some petty technical skill, then come to work on time and exert very modest effort needed to hold a job. The only requirements are a moderate amount of intelligence, and most of all, simple OBEDIENCE. If one has those, society takes care of one from cradle to grave. (Yes, there is an underclass that cannot take physical necessities for granted, but we are speaking here of mainstream society.) Thus it is not surprising that modern society is full of surrogate activities. These include scientific work, athletic achievement, humanitarian work, artistic and literary creation, climbing the corporate ladder, acquisition of money and material goods far beyond the point at which they cease to give any additional physical satisfaction, and social activism when it addresses issues that are not important for the activist personally, as in the case of white activists who work for the rights of nonwhite minorities. These are not always pure surrogate activities, since for many people they may be motivated in part by needs other than the need to have some goal to pursue. Scientific work may be motivated in part by a drive for prestige, artistic creation by a need to express feelings, militant social activism by hostility. But for most people who pursue them, these activities are in large part surrogate activities. For example, the majority of scientists will probably agree that the “fulfillment” they get from their work is more important than the money and prestige they earn.
  4. For many if not most people, surrogate activities are less satisfying than the pursuit of real goals ( that is, goals that people would want to attain even if their need for the power process were already fulfilled). One indication of this is the fact that, in many or most cases, people who are deeply involved in surrogate activities are never satisfied, never at rest. Thus the money-maker constantly strives for more and more wealth. The scientist no sooner solves one problem than he moves on to the next. The long-distance runner drives himself to run always farther and faster. Many people who pursue surrogate activities will say that they get far more fulfillment from these activities than they do from the “mundane” business of satisfying their biological needs, but that it is because in our society the effort needed to satisfy the biological needs has been reduced to triviality. More importantly, in our society people do not satisfy their biological needs AUTONOMOUSLY but by functioning as parts of an immense social machine. In contrast, people generally have a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities. have a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities.


  1. Autonomy as a part of the power process may not be necessary for every individual. But most people need a greater or lesser degree of autonomy in working toward their goals. Their efforts must be undertaken on their own initiative and must be under their own direction and control. Yet most people do not have to exert this initiative, direction and control as single individuals. It is usually enough to act as a member of a SMALL group. Thus if half a dozen people discuss a goal among themselves and make a successful joint effort to attain that goal, their need for the power process will be served. But if they work under rigid orders handed down from above that leave them no room for autonomous decision and initiative, then their need for the power process will not be served. The same is true when decisions are made on a collective bases if the group making the collective decision is so large that the role of each individual is insignificant [5]
  2. It is true that some individuals seem to have little need for autonomy. Either their drive for power is weak or they satisfy it by identifying themselves with some powerful organization to which they belong. And then there are unthinking, animal types who seem to be satisfied with a purely physical sense of power(the good combat soldier, who gets his sense of power by developing fighting skills that he is quite content to use in blind obedience to his superiors).
  3. But for most people it is through the power process-having a goal, making an AUTONOMOUS effort and attaining t the goal-that self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of power are acquired. When one does not have adequate opportunity to go throughout the power process the consequences are (depending on the individual and on the way the power process is disrupted) boredom, demoralization, low self-esteem, inferiority feelings, defeatism, depression, anxiety, guilt, frustration, hostility, spouse or child abuse, insatiable hedonism, abnormal sexual behavior, sleep disorders, eating disorders, etc. [6]


  1. Any of the foregoing symptoms can occur in any society, but in modern industrial society they are present on a massive scale. We aren’t the first to mention that the world today seems to be going crazy. This sort of thing is not normal for human societies. There is good reason to believe that primitive man suffered from less stress and frustration and was better satisfied with his way of life than modern man is. It is true that not all was sweetness and light in primitive societies. Abuse of women and common among the Australian aborigines, transexuality was fairly common among some of the American Indian tribes. But is does appear that GENERALLY SPEAKING the kinds of problems that we have listed in the preceding paragraph were far less common among primitive peoples than they are in modern society.
  2. We attribute the social and psychological problems of modern society to the fact that that society requires people to live under conditions radically different from those under which the human race evolved and to behave in ways that conflict with the patterns of behavior that the human race developed while living under the earlier conditions. It is clear from what we have already written that we consider lack of opportunity to properly experience the power process as the most important of the abnormal conditions to which modern society subjects people. But it is not the only one. Before dealing with disruption of the power process as a source of social problems we will discuss some of the other sources.
  3. Among the abnormal conditions present in modern industrial society are excessive density of population, isolation of man from nature, excessive rapidity of social change and the break-down of natural small-scale communities such as the extended family, the village or the tribe.
  4. It is well known that crowding increases stress and aggression. The degree of crowding that exists today and the isolation of man from nature are consequences of technological progress. All pre-industrial societies were predominantly rural. The industrial Revolution vastly increased the size of cities and the proportion of the population that lives in them, and modern agricultural technology has made it possible for the Earth to support a far denser population than it ever did before. (Also, technology exacerbates the effects of crowding because it puts increased disruptive powers in people’s hands. For example, a variety of noise-making devices: power mowers, radios, motorcycles, etc. If the use of these devices is unrestricted, people who want peace and quiet are frustrated by the noise. If their use is restricted, people who use the devices are frustrated by the regulations… But if these machines had never been invented there would have been no conflict and no frustration generated by them.)
  5. For primitive societies the natural world (which usually changes only slowly) provided a stable framework and therefore a sense of security. In the modern world it is human society that dominates nature rather than the other way around, and modern society changes very rapidly owing to technological change. Thus there is no stable framework.
  6. The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society with out causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.
  7. The breakdown of traditional values to some extent implies the breakdown of the bonds that hold together traditional small-scale social groups. The disintegration of small-scale social groups is also promoted by the fact that modern conditions often require or tempt individuals to move to new locations, separating themselves from their communities. Beyond that, a technological society HAS TO weaken family ties and local communities if it is to function efficiently. In modern society an individual’s loyalty must be first to the system and only secondarily to a small-scale community, because if the internal loyalties of small-scale small-scale communities were stronger than loyalty to the system, such communities would pursue their own advantage at the expense of the system.
  8. Suppose that a public official or a corporation executive appoints his cousin, his friend or his co-religionist to a position rather than appointing the person best qualified for the job. He has permitted personal loyalty to supersede his loyalty to the system, and that is “nepotism” or “discrimination,” both of which are terrible sins in modern society. Would-be industrial societies that have done a poor job of subordinating personal or local loyalties to loyalty to the system are usually very inefficient. (Look at Latin America.) Thus an advanced industrial society can tolerate only those small-scale communities that are emasculated, tamed and made into tools of the system.
  9. Crowding, rapid change and the breakdown of communities have been widely recognized as sources of social problems. but we do not believe they are enough to account for the extent of the problems that are seen today.
  10. A few pre-industrial cities were very large and crowded, yet their inhabitants do not seem to have suffered from psychological problems to the same extent as modern man. In America today there still are uncrowded rural areas, and we find there the same problems as in urban areas, though the problems tend to be less acute in the rural areas. Thus crowding does not seem to be the decisive factor.
  11. On the growing edge of the American frontier during the 19th century, the mobility of the population probably broke down extended families and small-scale social groups to at least the same extent as these are broken down today. In fact, many nuclear families lived by choice in such isolation, having no neighbors within several miles, that they belonged to no community at all, yet they do not seem to have developed problems as a result.
  12. Furthermore, change in American frontier society was very rapid and deep. A man might be born and raised in a log cabin, outside the reach of law and order and fed largely on wild meat; and by the time he arrived at old age he might be working at a regular job and living in an ordered community with effective law enforcement. This was a deeper change that that which typically occurs in the life of a modern individual, yet it does not seem to have led to psychological problems. In fact, 19th century American society had an optimistic and self-confident tone, quite unlike that of today’s society.
  13. The difference, we argue, is that modern man has the sense (largely justified) that change is IMPOSED on him, whereas the 19th century frontiersman had the sense (also largely justified) that he created change himself, by his own choice. Thus a pioneer settled on a piece of land of his own choosing and made it into a farm through his own effort. In those days an entire county might have only a couple of hundred inhabitants and was a far more isolated and autonomous entity than a modern county is. Hence the pioneer farmer participated as a member of a relatively small group in the creation of a new, ordered community. One may well question whether the creation of this community was an improvement, but at any rate it satisfied the pioneer’s need for the power process.
  14. It would be possible to give other examples of societies in which there has been rapid change and/or lack of close community ties without he kind of massive behavioral aberration that is seen in today’s industrial society. We contend that the most important cause of social and psychological problems in modern society is the fact that people have insufficient opportunity to go through the power process in a normal way. We don’t mean to say that modern society is the only one in which the power process has been disrupted. Probably most if not all civilized societies have interfered with the power ‘ process to a greater or lesser extent. But in modern industrial society the problem has become particularly acute. Leftism, at least in its recent (mid-to-late -20th century) form, is in part a symptom of deprivation with respect to the power process.


  1. We divide human drives into three groups: (1) those drives that can be satisfied with minimal effort; (2) those that can be satisfied but only at the cost of serious effort; (3) those that cannot be adequately satisfied no matter how much effort one makes. The power process is the process of satisfying the drives of the second group. The more drives there are in the third group, the more there is frustration, anger, eventually defeatism, depression, etc.
  2. In modern industrial society natural human drives tend to be pushed into the first and third groups, and the second group tends to consist increasingly of artificially created drives.
  3. In primitive societies, physical necessities generally fall into group 2: They can be obtained, but only at the cost of serious effort. But modern society tends to guaranty the physical necessities to everyone [9] in exchange for only minimal effort, hence physical needs are pushed into group 1. (There may be disagreement about whether the effort needed to hold a job is “minimal”; but usually, in lower- to middle-level jobs, whatever effort is required is merely that of obedience. You sit or stand where you are told to sit or stand and do what you are told to do in the way you are told to do it. Seldom do you have to exert yourself seriously, and in any case you have hardly any autonomy in work, so that the need for the power process is not well served.)
  4. Social needs, such as sex, love and status, often remain in group 2 in modern society, depending on the situation of the individual. [10] But, except for people who have a particularly strong drive for status, the effort required to fulfill the social drives is insufficient to satisfy adequately the need for the power process.
  5. So certain artificial needs have been created that fall into group 2, hence serve the need for the power process. Advertising and marketing techniques have been developed that make many people feel they need things that their grandparents never desired or even dreamed of. It requires serious effort to earn enough money to satisfy these artificial needs, hence they fall into group 2. (But see paragraphs 80-82.) Modern man must satisfy his need for the power process largely through pursuit of the artificial needs created by the advertising and marketing industry [11], and through surrogate activities.
  6. It seems that for many people, maybe the majority, these artificial forms of the power process are insufficient. A theme that appears repeatedly in the writings of the social critics of the second half of the 20th century is the sense of purposelessness that afflicts many people in modern society. (This purposelessness is often called by other names such as “anomic” or “middle-class vacuity.”) We suggest that the so-called “identity crisis” is actually a search for a sense of purpose, often for commitment to a suitable surrogate activity. It may be that existentialism is in large part a response to the purposelessness of modern life. [12] Very widespread in modern society is the search for “fulfillment.” But we think that for the majority of people an activity whose main goal is fulfillment (that is, a surrogate activity) does not bring completely satisfactory fulfillment. In other words, it does not fully satisfy the need for the power process. (See paragraph 41.) That need can be fully satisfied only through activities that have some external goal, such as physical necessities, sex, love, status, revenge, etc.
  7. Moreover, where goals are pursued through earning money, climbing the status ladder or functioning as part of the system in some other way, most people are not in a position to pursue their goals AUTONOMOUSLY. Most workers are someone else’s employee as, as we pointed out in paragraph 61, must spend their days doing what they are told to do in the way they are told to do it. Even most people who are in business for themselves have only limited autonomy. It is a chronic complaint of small-business persons and entrepreneurs that their hands are tied by excessive government regulation. Some of these regulations are doubtless unnecessary, but for the most part government regulations are essential and inevitable parts of our extremely complex society. A large portion of small business today operates on the franchise system. It was reported in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago that many of the franchise-granting companies require applicants for franchises to take a personality test that is designed to EXCLUDE those who have creativity and initiative, because such persons are not sufficiently docile to go along obediently with the franchise system. This excludes from small business many of the people who most need autonomy.
  8. Today people live more by virtue of what the system does FOR them or TO them than by virtue of what they do for themselves. And what they do for themselves is done more and more along channels laid down by the system. Opportunities tend to be those that the system provides, the opportunities must be exploited in accord with the rules and regulations [13], and techniques prescribed by experts must be followed if there is to be a chance of success.
  9. Thus the power process is disrupted in our society through a deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of autonomy in pursuit of goals. But it is also disrupted because of those human drives that fall into group 3: the drives that one cannot adequately satisfy no matter how much effort one makes. One of these drives is the need for security. Our lives depend on decisions made by other people; we have no control over these decisions and usually we do not even know the people who make them. (“We live in a world in which relatively few people – maybe 500 or 1,00 – make the important decisions” – Philip B. Heymann of Harvard Law School, quoted by Anthony Lewis, New York Times, April 21, 1995.) Our lives depend on whether safety standards at a nuclear power plant are properly maintained; on how much pesticide is allowed to get into our food or how much pollution into our air; on how skillful (or incompetent) our doctor is; whether we lose or get a job may depend on decisions made by government economists or corporation executives; and so forth. Most individuals are not in a position to secure themselves against these threats to more [than] a very limited extent. The individual’s search for security is therefore frustrated, which leads to a sense of powerlessness.
  10. It may be objected that primitive man is physically less secure than modern man, as is shown by his shorter life expectancy; hence modern man suffers from less, not more than the amount of insecurity that is normal for human beings. but psychological security does not closely correspond with physical security. What makes us FEEL secure is not so much objective security as a sense of confidence in our ability to take care of ourselves. Primitive man, threatened by a fierce animal or by hunger, can fight in self-defense or travel in search of food. He has no certainty of success in these efforts, but he is by no means helpless against the things that threaten him. The modern individual on the other hand is threatened by many things against which he is helpless; nuclear accidents, carcinogens in food, environmental pollution, war, increasing taxes, invasion of his privacy by large organizations, nation-wide social or economic phenomena that may disrupt his way of life.
  11. It is true that primitive man is powerless against some of the things that threaten him; disease for example. But he can accept the risk of disease stoically. It is part of the nature of things, it is no one’s fault, unless is the fault of some imaginary, impersonal demon. But threats to the modern individual tend to be MAN-MADE. They are not the results of chance but are IMPOSED on him by other persons whose decisions he, as an individual, is unable to influence. Consequently he feels frustrated, humiliated and angry.
  12. Thus primitive man for the most part has his security in his own hands (either as an individual or as a member of a SMALL group) whereas the security of modern man is in the hands of persons or organizations that are too remote or too large for him to be able personally to influence them. So modern man’s drive for security tends to fall into groups 1 and 3; in some areas (food, shelter, etc.) his security is assured at the cost of only trivial effort, whereas in other areas he CANNOT attain security. (The foregoing greatly simplifies the real situation, but it does indicate in a rough, general way how the condition of modern man differs from that of primitive man.)
  13. People have many transitory drives or impulses that are necessary frustrated in modern life, hence fall into group 3. One may become angry, but modern society cannot permit fighting. In many situations it does not even permit verbal aggression. When going somewhere one may be in a hurry, or one may be in a mood to travel slowly, but one generally has no choice but to move with the flow of traffic and obey the traffic signals. One may want to do one’s work in a different way, but usually one can work only according to the rules laid down by one’s employer. In many other ways as well, modern man is strapped down by a network of rules and regulations (explicit or implicit) that frustrate many of his impulses and thus interfere with the power process. Most of these regulations cannot be disposed with, because the are necessary for the functioning of industrial society.
  14. Modern society is in certain respects extremely permissive. In matters that are irrelevant to the functioning of the system we can generally do what we please. We can believe in any religion we like (as long as it does not encourage behavior that is dangerous to the system). We can go to bed with anyone we like (as long as we practice “safe sex”). We can do anything we like as long as it is UNIMPORTANT. But in all IMPORTANT matters the system tends increasingly to regulate our behavior.
  15. Behavior is regulated not only through explicit rules and not only by the government. Control is often exercised through indirect coercion or through psychological pressure or manipulation, and by organizations other than the government, or by the system as a whole. Most large organizations use some form of propaganda [14] to manipulate public attitudes or behavior. Propaganda is not limited to “commercials” and advertisements, and sometimes it is not even consciously intended as propaganda by the people who make it. For instance, the content of entertainment programming is a powerful form of propaganda. An example of indirect coercion: There is no law that says we have to go to work every day and follow our employer’s orders. Legally there is nothing to prevent us from going to live in the wild like primitive people or from going into business for ourselves. But in practice there is very little wild country left, and there is room in the economy for only a limited number of small business owners. Hence most of us can survive only as someone else’s employee.
  16. We suggest that modern man’s obsession with longevity, and with maintaining physical vigor and sexual attractiveness to an advanced age, is a symptom of un-fulfillment resulting from deprivation with respect to the power process. The “mid-life crisis” also is such a symptom. So is the lack of interest in having children that is fairly common in modern society but almost unheard-of in primitive societies.
  17. In primitive societies life is a succession of stages. The needs and purposes of one stage having been fulfilled, there is no particular reluctance about passing on to the next stage. A young man goes through the power process by becoming a hunter, hunting not for sport or for fulfillment but to get meat that is necessary for food. (In young women the process is more complex, with greater emphasis on social power; we won’t discuss that here.) This phase having been successfully passed through, the young man has no reluctance about settling down to the responsibilities of raising a family. (In contrast, some modern people indefinitely postpone having children because they are too busy seeking some kind of “fulfillment.” We suggest that the fulfillment they need is adequate experience of the power process — with real goals instead of the artificial goals of surrogate activities.) Again, having successfully raised his children, going through the power process by providing them with the physical necessities, the primitive man feels that his work is done and he is prepared to accept old age (if he survives that long) and death. Many modern people, on the other hand, are disturbed by the prospect of death, as is shown by the amount of effort they expend trying to maintain their physical condition, appearance and health. We argue that this is due to unfulfillment resulting from the fact that they have never put their physical powers to any use, have never gone through the power process using their bodies in a serious way. It is not the primitive man, who has used his body daily for practical purposes, who fears the deterioration of age, but the modern man, who has never had a practical use for his body beyond walking from his car to his house. It is the man whose need for the power process has been satisfied during his life who is best prepared to accept the end of that life.
  18. In response to the arguments of this section someone will say, “Society must find a way to give people the opportunity to go through the power process.” For such people the value of the opportunity is destroyed by the very fact that society gives it to them. What they need is to find or make their own opportunities. As long as the system GIVES them their opportunities it still has them on a leash. To attain autonomy they must get off that leash.










        120, 109, 99, 88, 77, 66 KYBP



56, 45, 34, 23, 13, 0 KYBP







  1. Figure 3 above is a video that shows a section of the Northern Hemisphere that contains the location where the Laurentide ice sheet forms during glaciation cycles.  It is an animation of the most recent glaciation sequence from the previous interglacial (the Eemian), through the Last Glaciation Period (LGP), to the present interglacial (the Holocene). It begins in the Eemian interglacial ≈120,000 years before the present (120KYBP) relatively free of ice except for Greenland and moves forward at 1,791 years per second to the present; thus beginning and ending in almost identical iceless states except for Greenland. In between these iceless interglacial states is seen the growth and decay of the last glaciation. These changes are violent, non-linear, and chaotic. As seen in the video, both the growth in glaciation from 120KYBP to about 56KYBP and its decay back to interglacial conditions contain multiple cycles of growth and decay at centennial and millennial time scales. The timing of these changes may be difficult to see in the video because of its extremely fast progression at ≈2000 years per second. It is made somewhat clearer in Figures 4&5 that appear immediately below Figure 3.
  2. Figure 4 and Figure 5 show the glaciation condition in still frames that are approximately ≈11,000 years apart. Figure 4 shows conditions in the first half of the time span at 120, 109, 99, 88, 77, and 66 KYBP. Here we see a growth of glaciation from the Eemian interglacial condition that progresses in cycles of growth and retreat in glaciation. The reason ice accumulates during glaciation is that growth events overcome retreat events. In this chaotic way, glaciation reaches a maximum The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in the first frame of Figure 5.
  3. Figure 5 shows conditions for the second time span at 56, 45, 34, 23, 13, 0 KYBP. These frames show glacial retreat after its maximum extent at 56KYBP. As in the growth phase, glacial retreat also progresses in cycles of growth and retreat in a violent and chaotic way, but in this phase of the glaciation cycle retreat events overcome growth events until the glaciation ice sheets such as the the Holocene interglacial is fully established in the last frame of Figure 5. It is important to note that although the chaotic volatility in the glaciation cycle appears rapid and violent in the video, these changes occur at millennial and longer time scales and the video moves forward at ≈2000 years per second.
  4. In the Quaternary Ice Age in which we live, the earth is mostly in a state of glaciation but with brief interglacials between them. Glaciations last about ≈100,000 years give or take a few thousand and interglacials about ≈10,000  years give or take a few thousand. We are currently in the Holocene interglacial. The previous interglacial is called the Eemian.
  5. The Eemian interglacial is described in a related post [LINK] where we see that the chaotic back and forth cyclical progress of the glaciation phase is also seen in the interglacial phase. Thus, in the Eemian interglacial we find a similarly violent state of cyclical climate oscillating between cold and hot periods as well as between rising and falling sea levels. In the Eemian, and in interglacials in general, these  changes occur at multi-decadal, centennial and millennial time scales. The bibliography presented below shows that similar, though less intense, cycles of cooling and warming are also found in the Holocene from its violent inception in the Younger Dryas event  to the present.
  6. The Younger Dryas Event (YDE) is described in a related post [LINK] .The paleo data collected by Willi Dansgaard and others show that as soon as the Last Glacial Period had apparently ended, a series of brief but violent cycles of glaciation and deglaciation conditions at very short time scales intervened. Figure 1 (reproduced below) is a graphical depiction of the violent and chaotic temperature changes seen in the YDE. Here red lines indicate warming, blue lines indicate cooling, and black lines are neutral. At ≈14,450YBP, we see a steep vertical red line as that appears to be an initial stage of the end of the LGP and the onset of the Holocene. Instead, at≈14,500YBP, rapid cooling and glaciation returned and drove temperatures in Greenland down by 15C at ≈12,000YBP. Shortly thereafter, ≈11,700YBP, a strong warming trend set in and persisted with a steady warming of ≈17C that rescued the Holocene from the YDE but two more glacial interruptions were still to come.
  7. The first of these two cooling events is called the 8.2K cooling (shown in blue) because it ends 8200YBP. The Holocene interglacial recovered from the 8.2K mini glacial event and warmed to the so called “Holocene Climate Optimum” (HCO) ≈7000YBP. The HCO, described in a related post [LINK] , is credited with the Neolithic Revolution that is thought to have created human civilization. It brought hunter gatherer humans out of the forests and caves and into a settled agricultural economy with farms and permanent homes eventually leading to kingdoms, nations, learning, and innovation described in a related post on the Bronze Age [LINK] . The black curve that runs from ≈7000YBP to the present is the temperature history of the Holocene since the warming began in earnest in the HCO.
  8. Four other Holocene temperature events since, in addition to the HCO, are considered important in the climate history of the Holocene interglacial. These are the Bronze Age warm period ≈3000YBP, (also called the Minoan Warm Period (BAWP), the Roman warm period (RWP)≈2000YBP, the Medieval warm period (MWP) ≈1100YBP, and the Little Ice Age (LIA) ≈500YBP-100YBP (the last blue cooling line in the chart). The current warm period, described as Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) caused by the Industrial Economy although some research implies that it may be a natural recovery from the LIA as described in a related post [LINK] . Posts on the MWP [LINK] and the LIA [LINK] are also relevant in this context.
  9. Thus we find that both glaciation and interglacial periods exhibit millennial scale chaotic behavior. In the bibliography below Gerard Bond, in “A pervasive millennial-scale cycle in North Atlantic Holocene and glacial climates.” science278.5341 (1997), writes that “pacings of the Holocene events and of and those in the last glaciation are statistically the same. Together, they make up a series of climate shifts with a period close to 1470 ± 500 years“. That is, although glaciation and interglacials are entirely different states of the earth’s surface climate system, both are subject to the same underlying chaotic volatility at the same time scale.
  10. A shorter time scale is implied in Wanner, Heinz “Structure and origin of Holocene cold events.” Quaternary Science Reviews 30.21-22 (2011). The paper describes the Holocene as an interglacial with an overall warming trend that is repeatedly interrupted by cold events at centennial and shorter time scales. He identifies the six cold events as (8200, 6300, 4700, 2700, 1550 and 550YBP). Mayeweski 2004 also identifies six cold events but dates them as 9000″8000, 6000-5000YBP, 4200-3800YBP, 3500-2500YBP, 1200-1000YBP, and 600-150YBP.
  11. However, as noted by many authors in the bibliography below, the Holocene is also marked by episodes of exceptional warmth. Other than the initial HCO, the most notable of these events are (1) the Bronze Age Warming (BAW) also known as the Minoan Warm Period ≈3000YBP, The Roman Warm Period (RWP) ≈2000YBP, the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) ≈1000YBP, and the current warm period thought to be artificial and a creation of the industrial economy. The millennial time scale is evident in these events that include the current warm period.
  12. Conclusion: Climate in general and Holocene climate in particular appear to exhibit properties of non-linear dynamics and deterministic chaos. Glaciation is not a linear and well behaved period of cooling and ice accumulation and interglacials are not a linear and well behaved period of warming and ice dissipation. Rather, both glaciation and deglaciation are chaotic events consisting of both processes differentiated only by a slight advantage to ice accumulation in glaciation and a slight advantage to ice dissipation in interglacials. In this context, the Holocene must be studied and understood as a chaotic system with multiple episodes of warming and ice dissipation and multiple episodes of cooling and ice accumulation. Viewed in this way, the current warming trend, when compared with the HCO, BAW, RWP, MWP, and in the context of alternating mini glaciations, can be understood as a natural recovery from the Little Ice Age [LINK] . The Industrial Revolution falls conveniently in the middle and it is tempting to see it as causal in the context of the study of human impacts on nature. However, it is just as credible if not more so to describe it as coincidental rather than causal when seen in the context of the warming and cooling dynamics of the Holocene. 






  1. georgeDentonDenton, George H., and Wibjörn Karlén. “Holocene climatic variations—their pattern and possible cause.” Quaternary Research 3.2 (1973): 155-205. In the northeastern St. Elias Mountains in southern Yukon Territory and Alaska, C14-dated fluctuations of 14 glacier termini show two major intervals of Holocene glacier expansion, the older dating from 3300-2400 calendar yr BP and the younger corresponding to the Little Ice Age of the last several centuries. Both were about equivalent in magnitude. In addition, a less-extensive and short-lived advance occurred about 1250-1050 calendar yr BP (A.D. 700–900). Conversely, glacier recession, commonly accompanied by rise in altitude of spruce tree line, occurred 5975–6175, 4030-3300, 2400-1250, and 1050-460 calendar yr BP, and from A.D. 1920 to the present. Examination of worldwide Holocene glacier fluctuations reinforces this scheme and points to a third major interval of glacier advances about 5800-4900 calendar yrs BP; this interval generally was less intense than the two younger major intervals. Finally, detailed mapping and dating of Holocene moraines fronting 40 glaciers in the Kebnekaise and Sarek Mountains in Swedish Lapland reveals again that the Holocene was punctuated by repeated intervals of glacier expansion that correspond to those found in the St. Elias Mountains and elsewhere. The two youngest intervals, which occurred during the Little Ice Age and again about 2300–3000 calendar yrs BP, were approximately equal in intensity. Advances of the two older intervals, which occurred approximately 5000 and 8000 calendar yr BP, were generally less extensive. Minor glacier fluctuations were superimposed on all four broad expansion intervals; glacial expansions of the Little Ice Age culminated about A.D. 1500–1640, 1710, 1780, 1850, 1890, and 1916. In the mountains of Swedish Lapland, Holocene mean summer temperature rarely, if ever, was lower than 1°C below the 1931–1960 summer mean. Summer temperatures varied by less than 3.5°C over the last two broad intervals of Holocene glacial expansion and contraction. Viewed as a whole, therefore, the Holocene experienced alternating intervals of glacier expansion and contraction that probably were superimposed on the broad climatic trends recognized in pollen profiles and deep-sea cores. Expansion intervals lasted up to 900 yr and contraction intervals up to 1750 yr. Dates of glacial maxima indicate that the major Holocene intervals of expansion peaked at about 200–330, 2800, and 5300 calendar yr BP, suggesting a recurrence of major glacier activity about each 2500 yr. If projected further into the past, this Holocene pattern predicts that alternating glacier expansion-contraction intervals should have been superimposed on the Late-Wisconsin glaciation, with glacier readvances peaking about 7800, 10,300, 12,800, and 15,300 calendar yr BP. These major readvances should have been separated by intervals of general recession, some of which might have been punctuated by short-lived advances. Furthermore, the time scales of Holocene events and their Late-Wisconsin analogues should be comparable. Considering possible errors in C14 dating, this extended Holocene scheme agrees reasonably well with the chronology and magnitude of such Late-Wisconsin events as the Cochrane-Cockburn readvance (8000–8200 C14 yr BP), the Pre-Boreal interstadial, the Fennoscandian readvances during the Younger Dryas stadial (10,850-10,050 varve yr BP), the Alleröd interstadial (11,800-10,900 C14 yr BP), the Port Huron readvance (12,700–13,000 C14 yr BP), the Cary/Port Huron interstadial (centered about 13,300 C14 yr BP), and the Cary stadial (14,000–15,000 C14 yr BP). Moreover, comparison of presumed analogues such as the Little Ice Age and the Younger Dryas, or the Alleröd and the Roman Empire-Middle Ages warm interval, show marked similarities. These results suggest that a recurring pattern of minor climatic variations, with a dominant overprint of cold intervals peaking about each 2500 yr, was superimposed on long-term Holocene and Late-Wisconsin climatic trends. Should this pattern continue to repeat itself, the Little Ice Age will be succeeded within the next few centuries by a long interval of milder climates similar to those of the Roman Empire and Middle Ages. Short-term atmospheric C14 variations measured from tree rings correlate closely with Holocene glacier and tree-line fluctuations during the last 7000 yr. Such a correspondence, firstly, suggests that the record of short-term C14 variations may be an empirical indicator of paleoclimates and, secondly, points to a possible cause of Holocene climatic variations. The most prominent explanation of short-term C14 variations involves modulation of the galactic cosmic-ray flux by varying solar corpuscular activity. If this explanation proves valid and if the solar constant can be shown to vary with corpuscular output, it would suggest that Holocene glacier and climatic fluctuations, because of their close correlation with short-term C14 variations, were caused by varying solar activity. By extension, this would imply a similar cause for Late-Wisconsin climatic fluctuations such as the Alleröd and Younger Dryas.
  2. Hammer, Claus U., Henrik B. Clausen, and Willi Dansgaard. “Greenland ice sheet evidence of post-glacial volcanism and its climatic impact.” Nature 288.5788 (1980): 230. Acidity profiles along well dated Greenland ice cores reveal large volcanic eruptions in the Northern Hemisphere during the past 10,000 yr. Comparison with a temperature index shows that clustered eruptions have a considerable cooling effect on climate, which further complicates climatic predictions.
  3. O’Brien, S. R., (Mayewski). “Complexity of Holocene climate as reconstructed from a Greenland ice core.” Science 270.5244 (1995): 1962-1964.  Glaciochemical time series developed from Summit, Greenland, indicate that the chemical composition of the atmosphere was dynamic during the Holocene epoch. Concentrations of sea salt and terrestrial dusts increased in Summit snow during the periods 0 to 600, 2400 to 3100, 5000 to 6100, 7800 to 8800, and more than 11,300 years ago. The most recent increase, and also the most abrupt, coincides with the Little Ice Age. These changes imply that either the north polar vortex expanded or the meridional air flow intensified during these periods, and that temperatures in the mid to high northern latitudes were potentially the coldest since the Younger Dryas event.
  4. Angelakis, Andreas N., and Stylianos V. Spyridakis. “The status of water resources in Minoan times: A preliminary study.” Diachronic Climatic Impacts on Water Resources. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 1996. 161-191.A well-known passage in Homer’s Odyssey, probably based on an ancient ritual myth, tells the story of Demeter, the Greek corn-goddess and Iasion, the son of Zeus by Electra, daughter of Atlas. The latter was the guardian of the pillars of heaven (Odyssey, 1.53), the Titan who holds the sky up (Hesiod, Theogony, 517) and is, thereby, identified with water and rainfall. [FULL TEXT DOWNLOAD .
  5. Alley, Richard B., (Mayewski)  “Holocene climatic instability: A prominent, widespread event 8200 yr ago.” Geology 25.6 (1997): 483-486.  The most prominent Holocene climatic event in Greenland ice-core proxies, with approximately half the amplitude of the Younger Dryas, occurred ∼8000 to 8400 yr ago. This Holocene event affected regions well beyond the North Atlantic basin, as shown by synchronous increases in windblown chemical indicators together with a significant decrease in methane. Widespread proxy records from the tropics to the north polar regions show a short-lived cool, dry, or windy event of similar age. The spatial pattern of terrestrial and marine changes is similar to that of the Younger Dryas event, suggesting a role for North Atlantic thermohaline circulation. Possible forcings identified thus far for this Holocene event are small, consistent with recent model results indicating high sensitivity and strong linkages in the climatic system.
  6. Bond, Gerard, et al. “A pervasive millennial-scale cycle in North Atlantic Holocene and glacial climates.” science278.5341 (1997): 1257-1266.  Evidence from North Atlantic deep sea cores reveals that abrupt shifts punctuated what is conventionally thought to have been a relatively stable Holocene climate. During each of these episodes, cool, ice-bearing waters from north of Iceland were advected as far south as the latitude of Britain. At about the same times, the atmospheric circulation above Greenland changed abruptly. Pacings of the Holocene events and of abrupt climate shifts during the last glaciation are statistically the same; together, they make up a series of climate shifts with a cyclicity close to 1470 ± 500 years. The Holocene events, therefore, appear to be the most recent manifestation of a pervasive millennial-scale climate cycle operating independently of the glacial-interglacial climate state. Amplification of the cycle during the last glaciation may have been linked to the North Atlantic’s thermohaline circulation.
  7. Roberts, Neil, et al. “The age and causes of Mid-Late Holocene environmental change in southwest Turkey.” Third Millennium BC climate change and old world collapse. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 1997. 409-429.  Proxy records such as lake sediment sequences provide important data on abrupt environmental changes in the past, but establishing their specific causes from the palaeoenvironmental record can be problematic. Pollen diagrams from southwest Turkey show a mid-late Holocene pollen assemblage zone, designated as the Beyşehir Occupation phase, the onset of which has been 14C dated to ca. 3000 BP (ca. 1250 BC). A second millennium BC date for the start of the Beyşehir Occupation phase can now be confirmed as a result of the discovery of volcanic tephra from the Minoan eruption of Santorini (Thera) in lake sediment cores from the region. Palaeoecological analyses on sediment cores from Gölhisar gölü, a shallow montane lake, indicate that tephra deposition was followed by a sustained response in the aquatic ecosystem, in the form of increased algal productivity. The onset of pollen changes marking the beginning of the Beyşehir Occupation phase was not, on the other hand, precisely coincident with the tephra layer, but rather occurred at least a century later at this site. Despite the paucity of archaeological evidence for Late Bronze Age settlement in the Oro-Mediterranean region of southwest Turkey, it would appear that the second millennium BC saw the start of a period of major human impact on the landscape which continued until the late first millennium AD. The Santorini ash represents an important time-synchronous, stratigraphic marker horizon, but does not appear to have been the immediate cause of the onset of the Beyş ehir Occupation phase.
  8. Bond, Gerard, et al. “Persistent solar influence on North Atlantic climate during the Holocene.” science 294.5549 (2001): 2130-2136.  Surface winds and surface ocean hydrography in the subpolar North Atlantic appear to have been influenced by variations in solar output through the entire Holocene. The evidence comes from a close correlation between inferred changes in production rates of the cosmogenic nuclides carbon-14 and beryllium-10 and centennial to millennial time scale changes in proxies of drift ice measured in deep-sea sediment cores. A solar forcing mechanism therefore may underlie at least the Holocene segment of the North Atlantic’s “1500-year” cycle. The surface hydrographic changes may have affected production of North Atlantic Deep Water, potentially providing an additional mechanism for amplifying the solar signals and transmitting them globally.
  9. Stenni, Barbara, et al. “Eight centuries of volcanic signal and climate change at Talos Dome (East Antarctica).” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 107.D9 (2002): ACL-3.  During the 1996 Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide‐International Trans‐Antarctic Scientific Expedition traverse, two firn cores were retrieved from the Talos Dome area (East Antarctica) at elevations of 2316 m (TD, 89 m long) and 2246 m (ST556, 19 m long). Cores were dated by using seasonal variations in non‐sea‐salt (nss) SO42− concentrations coupled with the recognition of tritium marker level (1965–1966) and nss SO42− spikes due to the most important volcanic events in the past (Pinatubo 1991, Agung 1963, Krakatoa 1883, Tambora 1815, Kuwae 1452, Unknown 1259). The number of annual layers recognized in the TD and ST556 cores was 779 and 97, respectively. The δD record obtained from the TD core has been compared with other East Antarctic isotope ice core records (Dome C EPICA, South Pole, Taylor Dome). These records suggest cooler climate conditions between the middle of 16th and the beginning of 19th centuries, which might be related to the Little Ice Age (LIA) cold period. Because of the high degree of geographical variability, the strongest LIA cooling was not temporally synchronous over East Antarctica, and the analyzed records do not provide a coherent picture for East Antarctica. The accumulation rate record presented for the TD core shows a decrease during part of the LIA followed by an increment of about 11% in accumulation during the 20th century. At the ST556 site, the accumulation rate observed during the 20th century was quite stable.
  10. Mayewski, Paul A. (aka Ice Man). “Holocene climate variability.” Quaternary PaulMayewskiresearch 62.3 (2004): 243-255. Although the dramatic climate disruptions of the last glacial period have received considerable attention, relatively little has been directed toward climate variability in the Holocene (11,500 cal yr B.P. to the present). Examination of 50 globally distributed paleoclimate records reveals as many as six periods of significant rapid climate change during the time periods 9000″8000, 6000″5000, 4200″3800, 3500″2500, 1200″1000, and 600″150 cal yr B.P. Most of the climate change events in these globally distributed records are characterized by polar cooling, tropical aridity, and major atmospheric circulation changes, although in the most recent interval (600″150 cal yr B.P.), polar cooling was accompanied by increased moisture in some parts of the tropics. Several intervals coincide with major disruptions of civilization, illustrating the human significance of Holocene climate variability.
  11. Magny, Michel. “Holocene climate variability as reflected by mid-European lake-level fluctuations and its probable impact on prehistoric human settlements.” Quaternary international113.1 (2004): 65-79.  A data set of 180 radiocarbon, tree-ring and archaeological dates obtained from sediment sequences of 26 lakes in the Jura mountains, the northern French Pre-Alps and the Swiss Plateau was used to construct a Holocene mid-European lake-level record. The dates do not indicate a random distribution over the Holocene, but form clusters suggesting an alternation of lower and higher, climatically driven lake-level phases. They provide evidence of a rather unstable Holocene climate punctuated by 15 phases of higher lake-level: 11 250–11 050, 10 300–10 000, 9550–9150, 8300–8050, 7550–7250, 6350–5900, 5650–5200, 4850–4800, 4150–3950, 3500–3100, 2750–2350, 1800–1700, 1300–1100, 750–650 cal. BP and after 1394 AD. A comparison of this mid-European lake-level record with the GISP2-Polar Circulation Index (PCI) record, the North Atlantic ice-rafting debris (IRD) events and the 14C record suggests teleconnections in a complex cryosphere-ocean-atmosphere system. Correlations between the GISP2-PCI, the mid-European lake-level, the North Atlantic IRD, and the residual 14C records, suggest that changes in the solar activity played a major role in Holocene climate oscillations over the North Atlantic area.
  12. Alley, Richard B., and Anna Maria Ágústsdóttir. “The 8k event: cause and consequences of a major Holocene abrupt climate change.” Quaternary Science Reviews 24.10-11 (2005): 1123-1149.  A prominent, abrupt climate event about 8200 years ago brought generally cold and dry conditions to broad northern-hemisphere regions especially in wintertime, in response to a very large outburst flood that freshened the North Atlantic. Changes were much larger than typical climate variability before and after the event, with anomalies up to many degrees contributing to major displacement of vegetative patterns. This “8k” event provides a clear case of cause and effect in the paleoclimatic realm, and so offers an excellent opportunity for model testing. The response to North Atlantic freshening has the same general anomaly pattern as observed for older events associated with abrupt climate changes following North Atlantic freshening, and so greatly strengthens the case that those older events also reflect North Atlantic changes. The North Atlantic involvement in the 8k event helps in estimating limits on climate anomalies that might result in the future if warming-caused ice-melt and hydrologic-cycle intensification at high latitudes lead to major changes in North Atlantic circulation. Few model experiments have directly addressed the 8k event, and most studies of proxy records across this event lack the time resolution to fully characterize the anomalies, so much work remains to be done.
  13. Chew, Sing C. “From Harappa to Mesopotamia and Egypt to Mycenae: Dark Ages, Political-Economic Declines, and Environmental/Climatic Changes 2200 BC–700 BC.” The Historical Evolution of World-Systems. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2005. 52-74.  Considerations of hegemonic decline as a world historical process most often attempt to account for decline and collapse of complex institutions in terms of social, political, and economic processes (Gills and Frank 1992). As we increasingly question whether there are physical–environmental limits that would affect the reproduction of world-systems, political, economic, and social dimensions might not be sufficient to account for hegemonic declines. Consideration of environmental and climatological factors needs to be combined with socioeconomic relations in our understanding of hegemonic declines and shifts. This approach assumes that the humans seek to transform nature in an expansive manner, and ceaselessly amass surpluses. There are certain long periods in world history that exhibit large economic and social crises and hegemonic decline. Such long periods of economic and social distress are here termed dark ages.
  14. Gorokhovich, Yuri. “Abandonment of Minoan palaces on Crete in relation to the earthquake induced changes in groundwater supply.” Journal of Archaeological Science 32.2 (2005): 217-222. Mysterious abandonment of palaces on Crete during the Late Minoan period was always a challenging problem for archeologists and geologists. Various hypotheses explained this event by effects of tsunamis, earthquakes or climatic changes that were caused by the volcanic eruption of the Santorini volcano. While each of them or their possible combination contributed to the abandonment of palaces and following Late Minoan crisis, there is another possible cause that appeared as a result of studies within the last 20–30 years. This cause is depletion of groundwater supply caused by persistent earthquake activity that took place during the Bronze Age. This explanation is supported by field observations and numerous studies of similar phenomena in other locations.
  15. Wanner, Heinz, et al. heinzWanner“Mid-to Late Holocene climate change: an overview.” Quaternary Science Reviews 27.19-20 (2008): 1791-1828.  The last 6000 years are of particular interest to the understanding of the Earth System because the boundary conditions of the climate system did not change dramatically (in comparison to larger glacial–interglacial changes), and because abundant, detailed regional palaeoclimatic proxy records cover this period. We use selected proxy-based reconstructions of different climate variables, together with state-of-the-art time series of natural forcings (orbital variations, solar activity variations, large tropical volcanic eruptions, land cover and greenhouse gases), underpinned by results from General Circulation Models (GCMs) and Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity (EMICs), to establish a comprehensive explanatory framework for climate changes from the Mid-Holocene (MH) to pre-industrial time. The redistribution of solar energy, due to orbital forcing on a millennial timescale, was the cause of a progressive southward shift of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) summer position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). This was accompanied by a pronounced weakening of the monsoon systems in Africa and Asia and increasing dryness and desertification on both continents. The associated summertime cooling of the NH, combined with changing temperature gradients in the world oceans, likely led to an increasing amplitude of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and, possibly, increasingly negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) indices up to the beginning of the last millennium. On decadal to multi-century timescales, a worldwide coincidence between solar irradiance minima, tropical volcanic eruptions and decadal to multi-century scale cooling events was not found. However, reconstructions show that widespread decadal to multi-century scale cooling events, accompanied by advances of mountain glaciers, occurred in the NH (e.g., in Scandinavia and the European Alps). This occurred namely during the Little Ice Age (LIA) between AD ∼1350 and 1850, when the lower summer insolation in the NH, due to orbital forcing, coincided with solar activity minima and several strong tropical volcanic eruptions. The role of orbital forcing in the NH cooling, the southward ITCZ shift and the desertification of the Sahara are supported by numerous model simulations. Other simulations have suggested that the fingerprint of solar activity variations should be strongest in the tropics, but there is also evidence that changes in the ocean heat transport took place during the LIA at high northern latitudes, with possible additional implications for climates of the Southern Hemisphere (SH).
  16. ? Scafetta, Nicola. “Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications.” Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 72.13 (2010): 951-970.  We investigate whether or not the decadal and multi-decadal climate oscillations have an astronomical origin. Several global surface temperature records since 1850 and records deduced from the orbits of the planets present very similar power spectra. Eleven frequencies with period between 5 and 100 years closely correspond in the two records. Among them, large climate oscillations with peak-to-trough amplitude of about 0.1 and 0.25°C, and periods of about 20 and 60 years, respectively, are synchronized to the orbital periods of Jupiter and Saturn. Schwabe and Hale solar cycles are also visible in the temperature records. A 9.1-year cycle is synchronized to the Moon’s orbital cycles. A phenomenological model based on these astronomical cycles can be used to well reconstruct the temperature oscillations since 1850 and to make partial forecasts for the 21st century. It is found that at least 60% of the global warming observed since 1970 has been induced by the combined effect of the above natural climate oscillations. The partial forecast indicates that climate may stabilize or cool until 2030–2040. Possible physical mechanisms are qualitatively discussed with an emphasis on the phenomenon of collective synchronization of coupled oscillators.
  17. Tsonis, A. A., et al. “Climate change and the demise of Minoan civilization.” Climate of the Past 6.4 (2010): 525-530.  Climate change has been implicated in the success and downfall of several ancient civilizations. Here we present a synthesis of historical, climatic, and geological evidence that supports the hypothesis that climate change may have been responsible for the slow demise of Minoan civilization. Using proxy ENSO and precipitation reconstruction data in the period 1650–1980 we present empirical and quantitative evidence that El Nino causes drier conditions in the area of Crete. This result is supported by modern data analysis as well as by model simulations. Though not very strong, the ENSO-Mediterranean drying signal appears to be robust, and its overall effect was accentuated by a series of unusually strong and long-lasting El Nino events during the time of the Minoan decline. Indeed, a change in the dynamics of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system occurred around 3000 BC, which culminated in a series of strong and frequent El Nino events starting at about 1450 BC and lasting for several centuries. This stressful climatic trend, associated with the gradual demise of the Minoans, is argued to be an important force acting in the downfall of this classic and long-lived civilization.  FULL TEXT DOWNLOAD
  18. Wanner, Heinz, et al. “Structure and origin of Holocene cold events.” Quaternary Science Reviews 30.21-22 (2011): 3109-3123. The present interglacial, the Holocene, spans the period of the last 11,700 years. It has sustained the growth and development of modern society. The millennial-scale decreasing solar insolation in the Northern Hemisphere summer lead to Northern Hemisphere cooling, a southern shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and a weakening of the Northern Hemisphere summer monsoon systems. On the multidecadal to multicentury-scale, periods of more stable and warmer climate were interrupted by several cold relapses, at least in the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical area. Based on carefully selected 10,000-year-long time series of temperature and humidity/precipitation, as well as reconstructions of glacier advances, the spatiotemporal pattern of six cold relapses during the last 10,000 years was analysed and presented in form of a Holocene Climate Atlas (HOCLAT; see A clear cyclicity was not found, and the spatiotemporal variability of temperature and humidity/precipitation during the six specific cold events (8200, 6300, 4700, 2700, 1550 and 550 years BP) was very high. Different dynamical processes such as meltwater flux into the North Atlantic, low solar activity, explosive volcanic eruptions, and fluctuations of the thermohaline circulation likely played a major role. In addition, internal dynamics in the North Atlantic and Pacific area (including their complex interaction) were likely involved. AUTHOR’S NOTES: {Based on temperature, humidity and glacier data, we analyze Holocene cold events. During the Holocene a clear cyclicity between warm and cold periods was not found.  Single cold relapses are subject to different dynamical processes. The six analyzed cold events show different spatial structures.}
  19. Humlum, Ole, Jan-Erik Solheim, and Kjell Stordahl. “Identifying natural contributions to late Holocene climate change.” Global and Planetary Change 79.1-2 (2011): 145-156.  Analytic climate models have provided the means to predict potential impacts on future climate by anthropogenic changes in atmospheric composition. However, future climate development will not only be influenced by anthropogenic changes, but also by natural variations. The knowledge on such natural variations and their detailed character, however, still remains incomplete. Here we present a new technique to identify the character of natural climate variations, and from this, to produce testable forecast of future climate. By means of Fourier and wavelet analyses climate series are decomposed into time–frequency space, to extract information on periodic signals embedded in the data series and their amplitude and variation over time. We chose to exemplify the potential of this technique by analysing two climate series, the Svalbard (78°N) surface air temperature series 1912–2010, and the last 4000 years of the reconstructed GISP2 surface temperature series from central Greenland. By this we are able to identify several cyclic climate variations which appear persistent on the time scales investigated. Finally, we demonstrate how such persistent natural variations can be used for hindcasting and forecasting climate. Our main focus is on identifying the character (timing, period, amplitude) of such recurrent natural climate variations, but we also comment on the likely physical explanations for some of the identified cyclic climate variations. The causes of millennial climate changes remain poorly understood, and this issue remains important for understanding causes for natural climate variability over decadal- and decennial time scales. We argue that Fourier and wavelet approaches like ours may contribute towards improved understanding of the role of such recurrent natural climate variations in the future climate development.
  20. Drake, Brandon L. “The influence of climatic change on the Late Bronze Age Collapse and the Greek Dark Ages.” Journal of Archaeological Science 39.6 (2012): 1862-1870.  Between the 13th and 11th centuries BCE, most Greek Bronze Age Palatial centers were destroyed and/or abandoned. The following centuries were typified by low population levels. Data from oxygen-isotope speleothems, stable carbon isotopes, alkenone-derived seasurface temperatures, and changes in warm-species dinocysts and formanifera in the Mediterranean indicate that the Early Iron Age was more arid than the preceding Bronze Age. A sharp increase in Northern Hemisphere temperatures preceded the collapse of Palatial centers, a sharp decrease occurred during their abandonment. Mediterranean Seasurface temperatures cooled rapidly during the Late Bronze Age, limiting freshwater flux into the atmosphere and thus reducing precipitation over land. These climatic changes could have affected Palatial centers that were dependent upon high levels of agricultural productivity. Declines in agricultural production would have made higher-density populations in Palatial centers unsustainable. The ‘Greek Dark Ages’ that followed occurred during prolonged arid conditions that lasted until the Roman Warm Period.





  1. Hori, KazuakiHori, Kazuaki, and Yoshiki Saito. “An early Holocene sea‐level jump and delta initiation.” Geophysical Research Letters 34.18 (2007).  Early Holocene sea‐level change controlled the evolution of classic coastal depositional systems. Radiocarbon‐dated borehole cores obtained from three incised‐valley‐fill systems in Asia (Changjiang, Song Hong, and Kiso River) record very similar depositional histories, especially between about 9000 and 8500 cal BP. Sedimentary facies changes from estuarine sand and mud to shelf or prodelta mud suggest that the marine influence in the incised valleys increased during this period. In addition, large decreases in sediment accumulation rates occurred. A sea‐level jump causes an estuarine system and its depocenter to move rapidly landward. It is possible that the final collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, accompanied by catastrophic drainage of glacial lakes, at approximately 8500 cal BP caused such a jump. The jump was followed immediately by a period of decelerated sea‐level rise that promoted delta initiation.
  2. Vink, AnnemiekVink, Annemiek, et al. “Holocene relative sea-level change, isostatic subsidence and the radial viscosity structure of the mantle of northwest Europe (Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, southern North Sea).” Quaternary Science Reviews26.25-28 (2007): 3249-3275.  A comprehensive observational database of Holocene relative sea-level (RSL) index points from northwest Europe (Belgium, the Netherlands, northwest Germany, southern North Sea) has been compiled in order to compare and reassess the data collected from the different countries/regions and by different workers on a common time–depth scale. RSL rise varies in magnitude and form between these regions, revealing a complex pattern of differential crustal movement which cannot be solely attributed to tectonic activity. It clearly contains a non-linear, glacio- and/or hydro-isostatic subsidence component, which is only small on the Belgian coastal plain but increases significantly to a value of ca 7.5 m relative to Belgium since 8 cal. ka BP along the northwest German coast. The subsidence is at least in part related to the Post-Glacial collapse of the so-called peripheral forebulge which developed around the Fennoscandian centre of ice loading during the Last Glacial Maximum. The RSL data have been compared to geodynamic Earth models in order to infer the radial viscosity structure of the Earth’s mantle underneath NW Europe (lithosphere thickness, upper- and lower-mantle viscosity), and conversely to predict RSL in regions where we have only few observational data (e.g. in the southern North Sea). A very broad range of Earth parameters fit the Belgian RSL data, suggesting that glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) only had a minor effect on Belgian crustal dynamics during and after the Last Ice Age. In contrast, a narrow range of Earth parameters define the southern North Sea region, reflecting the greater influence of GIA on these deeper/older samples. Modelled RSL data suggest that the zone of maximum forebulge subsidence runs in a relatively narrow, WNW–ESE trending band connecting the German federal state of Lower Saxony with the Dogger Bank area in the southern North Sea. Identification of the effects of local-scale factors such as past changes in tidal range or tectonic activity on the spatial and temporal variations of sea-level index points based on model-data comparisons is possible but is still complicated by the relatively large range of Earth model parameters fitting each RSL curve, emphasizing the need for more high-quality observational data.
  3. Kendall, Roblyn A., et al. “The sea-level fingerprint of the 8.2 ka climate event.” Geology 36.5 (2008): 423-426.  The 8.2 ka cooling event was an abrupt, widespread climate instability. There is general consensus that the episode was likely initiated by a catastrophic outflow of proglacial Lakes Agassiz and Ojibway through the Hudson Strait, with subsequent disruption of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. However, the total discharge and flux during the 8.2 ka event remain uncertain. We compute the sea-level signature, or “fingerprint,” associated with the drainage of Lakes Agassiz and Ojibway, as well as the expected sea-level signal over the same time period due to glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) in response to the Late Pleistocene deglaciation. Our analysis demonstrates that sites relatively close to the lakes, including the West and Gulf Coasts of the United States, have small signals due to the lake release and potentially large GIA signals, and thus they may not be optimal field sites for constraining the outflow volume. Other sites, such as the east coast of South America and western Africa, have significantly larger signals associated with the lake release and are thus better choices in this regard.
  4. Hijma, Marc Phijma-mark., and Kim M. Cohen. “Timing and magnitude of the sea-level jump preluding the 8200 yr event.” Geology 38.3 (2010): 275-278.  Evidence from terrestrial, glacial, and global climate model reconstructions suggests that a sea-level jump caused by meltwater release was associated with the triggering of the 8.2 ka cooling event. However, there has been no direct measurement of this jump using precise sea-level data. In addition, the chronology of the meltwater pulse is based on marine data with limited dating accuracy. The most plausible mechanism for triggering the cooling event is the sudden, possibly multistaged drainage of the Laurentide proglacial Lakes Agassiz and Ojibway through the Hudson Strait into the North Atlantic ca. 8470 ± 300 yr ago. Here we show with detailed sea-level data from Rotterdam, Netherlands, that the sea-level rise commenced 8450 ± 44 yr ago. Our timing considerably narrows the existing age of this drainage event and provides support for the hypothesis of a double-staged lake drainage. The jump in sea level reached a local magnitude of 2.11 ± 0.89 m within 200 yr, in addition to the ongoing background relative sea-level rise (1.95 ± 0.74 m). This magnitude, observed at considerable distance from the release site, points to a global-averaged eustatic sea-level jump that is double the size of previous estimates (3.0 ± 1.2 m versus 0.4–1.4 m). The discrepancy suggests either a coeval Antarctic contribution or, more likely, a previous underestimate of the total American lake drainage.
  5. Bard, Edouardeduard, Bruno Hamelin, and Doriane Delanghe-Sabatier. “Deglacial meltwater pulse 1B and Younger Dryas sea levels revisited with boreholes at Tahiti.” Science327.5970 (2010): 1235-1237.  Reconstructing sea-level changes during the last deglaciation provides a way of understanding the ice dynamics that can perturb large continental ice sheets. The resolution of the few sea-level records covering the critical time interval between 14,000 and 9,000 YBP calendar years before the present is still insufficient to draw conclusions about sea-level changes associated with the Younger Dryas cold event and the meltwater pulse 1B (MWP-1B). We used the uranium-thorium method to date shallow-living corals from three new cores drilled onshore in the Tahiti barrier reef. No significant discontinuity can be detected in the sea-level rise during the MWP-1B period. The new Tahiti sea-level record shows that the sea-level rise slowed down during the Younger Dryas before accelerating again during the Holocene.
  6. Smith, D. E., et al. “The early Holocene sea level rise.” Quaternary Science Reviews 30.15-16 (2011): 1846-1860.  The causes, anatomy and consequences of the early Holocene sea level rise (EHSLR) are reviewed. The rise, of ca 60m, took place over most of the Earth as the volume of the oceans increased during deglaciation and is dated at 11,650–7000 cal. BP. The EHSLR was largely driven by meltwater release from decaying ice masses and the break up of coastal ice streams. The patterns of ice sheet decay and the evidence for meltwater pulses are reviewed, and it is argued that the EHSLR was a factor in the ca 8470 BP flood from Lake Agassiz-Ojibway. Patterns of relative sea level changes are examined and it is argued that in addition to regional variations, temporal changes are indicated. The impact of the EHSLR on climate is reviewed and it is maintained that the event was a factor in the 8200 BP cooling event, as well as in changes in ocean current patterns and their resultant effects. The EHSLR may also have enhanced volcanic activity, but no clear evidence of a causal link with submarine sliding on continental slopes and shelves can yet be demonstrated. The rise probably influenced rates and patterns of human migrations and cultural changes. It is concluded that the EHSLR was a major event of global significance, knowledge of which is relevant to an understanding of the impacts of global climate change in the future. Highlights:  1. Reviews the early Holocene sea level rise of 11650–7000 cal. BP. 2. Argues that the rise was involved in the discharge of Lake Agassiz-Ojibway and the 8200-year cooling event. 3. Shows that he rise influenced climate by increasing sea areas, in turn affecting human migration. 4. Suggests that the rise increased volcanic activity, but that its effects on submarine sliding are uncertain. 5. Argues that study of the rise helps throw light on the effects of future sea level changes in a global warming world.
  7. Hijma, Marchijma-mark P., and Kim M. Cohen. “Holocene transgression of the Rhine river mouth area, The Netherlands/Southern North Sea: palaeogeography and sequence stratigraphy.” Sedimentology 58.6 (2011): 1453-1485.  This study presents a detailed reconstruction of the palaeogeography of the Rhine valley (western Netherlands) during the Holocene transgression with systems tracts placed in a precise sea‐level context. This approach permits comparison of actual versus conceptual boundaries of the lowstand, transgressive and highstand systems tracts. The inland position of the highstand Rhine river mouth on a wide, low‐gradient continental shelf meant that base‐level changes were the dominant control on sedimentation for a relatively short period of the last glacial cycle. Systems in such inland positions predominantly record changes in the balance between river discharge and sediment load, and preserve excellent records of climatic changes or other catchment‐induced forcing. It is shown here that the transgressive systems tract‐part of the coastal prism formed in three stages: (i) the millennium before 8·45 ka bp, when the area was dominated by fluvial environments with extensive wetlands; (ii) the millennium after 8·45 ka, characterized by strong erosion, increasing tidal amplitudes and bay‐head delta development; and (iii) the period between 7·5 and 6·3 ka bp when the Rhine avulsed multiple times and the maximum flooding surface formed. The diachroneity of the transgressive surface is strongly suppressed because of a pulse of accelerated sea‐level rise at 8·45 ka bp. That event not only had a strong effect on preservation, but has circum‐oceanic stratigraphical relevance as it divides the early and middle Holocene parts of coastal successions worldwide. The palaeogeographical reconstruction offers a unique full spatial–temporal view on the coastal and fluvial dynamics of a major river mouth under brief rapid forced transgression. This reconstruction is of relevance for Holocene and ancient transgressive systems worldwide, and for next‐century natural coasts that are predicted to experience a 1 m sea‐level rise.
  8. Hijma, Marchijma-mark P., et al. “Pleistocene Rhine–Thames landscapes: geological background for hominin occupation of the southern North Sea region.” Journal of Quaternary Science 27.1 (2012): 17-39.  This paper links research questions in Quaternary geology with those in Palaeolithic archaeology. A detailed geological reconstruction of The Netherlands’ south‐west offshore area provides a stratigraphical context for archaeological and palaeontological finds. Progressive environmental developments have left a strong imprint on the area’s Palaeolithic record. We highlight aspects of landscape evolution and related taphonomical changes, visualized in maps for critical periods of the Pleistocene in the wider southern North Sea region. The Middle Pleistocene record is divided into two palaeogeographical stages: the pre‐Anglian/Elsterian stage, during which a wide land bridge existed between England and Belgium even during marine highstands; and the Anglian/Elsterian to Saalian interglacial, with a narrower land bridge, lowered by proglacial erosion but not yet fully eroded. The Late Pleistocene landscape was very different, with the land bridge fully dissected by an axial Rhine–Thames valley, eroded deep enough to fully connect the English Channel and the North Sea during periods of highstand. This tripartite staging implies great differences in (i) possible migration routes of herds of herbivores as well as hominins preying upon them, (ii) the erosion base of axial and tributary rivers causing an increase in the availability of flint raw materials and (iii) conditions for loess accumulation in northern France and Belgium and the resulting preservation of Middle Palaeolithic sites.
  9. Törnqvist, TorbjörnTörnqvist, Torbjörn E., and Marc P. Hijma. “Links between early Holocene ice-sheet decay, sea-level rise and abrupt climate change.” Nature Geoscience 5.9 (2012): 601.  The beginning of the current interglacial period, the Holocene epoch, was a critical part of the transition from glacial to interglacial climate conditions. This period, between about 12,000 and 7,000 years ago, was marked by the continued retreat of the ice sheets that had expanded through polar and temperate regions during the preceding glacial. This meltdown led to a dramatic rise in sea level, punctuated by short-lived jumps associated with catastrophic ice-sheet collapses. Tracking down which ice sheet produced specific sea-level jumps has been challenging, but two events between 8,500 and 8,200 years ago have been linked to the final drainage of glacial Lake Agassiz in north-central North America. The release of the water from this ice-dammed lake into the ocean is recorded by sea-level jumps in the Mississippi and Rhine-Meuse deltas of approximately 0.4 and 2.1 metres, respectively. These sea-level jumps can be related to an abrupt cooling in the Northern Hemisphere known as the 8.2 kyr event, and it has been suggested that the freshwater release from Lake Agassiz into the North Atlantic was sufficient to perturb the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. As sea-level rise on the order of decimetres to metres can now be detected with confidence and linked to climate records, it is becoming apparent that abrupt climate change during the early Holocene associated with perturbations in North Atlantic circulation required sustained freshwater release into the ocean.
  10. Sturt, FraserSturt, Fraser, Duncan Garrow, and Sarah Bradley. “New models of North West European Holocene palaeogeography and inundation.” Journal of Archaeological Science 40.11 (2013): 3963-3976. Highlights: New Palaeogeographic models of North West Europe from 11,000 BP to present day at 500 year intervals. Calculated rates for Holocene inundation across North West Europe. High rates of change do not necessarily mean catastrophic impacts. Understanding rates of change and their social implications requires a multi-scalar, multidisciplinary approach to the past.Abstract: This paper presents new 500 year interval palaeogeographic models for Britain, Ireland and the North West French coast from 11000 cal. BP to present. These models are used to calculate the varying rates of inundation for different geographical zones over the study period. This allows for consideration of the differential impact that Holocene sea-level rise had across space and time, and on past societies. In turn, consideration of the limitations of the models helps to foreground profitable areas for future research.




































  1. Volterra, Vito. “Fluctuations in the abundance of a species considered mathematically.” (1926): 558.  Dynamics of predator species and prey species are used to develop a nonlinear model for the interpretation of specie abundance data. Full text pdf provided. bandicam 2019-06-10 10-46-00-072
  2. Colautti, Robert I., Igor A. Grigorovich, and Hugh J. MacIsaac. “Propagule pressure: a null model for biological invasions.” Biological Invasions 8.5 (2006): 1023-1037.  Invasion ecology must explain the ability of species to establish in, spread to, or become abundant in novel communities and the susceptibility of habitats to the establishment or proliferation of invaders. Abundant invaders generally occupy similar habitats as native species, while abundant species tend to be less affected by enemies. Germination success and reproductive output are significantly positively associated with invasiveness when results from both stages were combined. We also found that propagule pressure was a significant predictor of both invasiveness and conclude that propagule pressure should serve as the basis of a null model for studies of biological invasions when inferring process from patterns of invasion.
  3. Brown, James H., David W. Mehlman, and George C. Stevens. “Spatial variation in abundance.” Ecology 76.7 (1995): 2028-2043. The abundance of bird species varies in a systematic way over the geographic range, exhibiting positive spatial autocorrelation at small distances and a tendency to increase from the edges toward the center of the range. The magnitude and pattern of spatial variation in local population density has important implications for basic ecology and biogeography, especially for the dynamics and regulation of abundance on both space and time, the limits and internal structure of the geographic range, and the interspecific variation in abundance observed within local communities.
  4. Yoccoz, Nigel G., James D. Nichols, and Thierry Boulinier. “Monitoring of biological diversity in space and time.” Trends in ecology & evolution 16.8 (2001): 446-453.  Monitoring programmes are being used increasingly to assess spatial and temporal trends of biological diversity, with an emphasis on evaluating the efficiency of management policies. Recent reviews of the existing programmes, with a focus on their design in particular, have highlighted the main weaknesses: the lack of well-articulated objectives and the neglect of different sources of error in the estimation of biological diversity. We review recent developments in methods and designs that aim to integrate sources of error to provide unbiased estimates of change in biological diversity and to suggest the potential causes.
  5. Connor, Edward F., and Earl D. McCoy. “The statistics and biology of the species-area relationship.” The American Naturalist 113.6 (1979): 791-833.  specie-abundance-statistics
  6. Lawton, John H. “Range, population abundance and conservation.” Trends in ecology & evolution 8.11 (1993): 409-413. Several patterns in the distribution and abundance of organisms have now been documented. They include broad (but not universal) positive correlations between range sizes and population abundances; a decline in the proportion of sites occupied and in average population densities from the centre to the edge of a species’ range, with either unimodal or multimodal peaks of abundance and occupancy in the core of the range; and intriguing, but still poorly documented phylogenetic effects on both range size and abundance. All these patterns require further work to establish their generality, and all of them lack generally agreed explanations. They are important, however, not only theoretically but also practically, because of the constraints and opportunities they appear to provide for the management and conservation of species.
  7. Roberts, Callum M., and Rupert FG Ormond. “Habitat complexity and coral reef fish diversity and abundance on Red Sea fringing reefs.” Marine Ecology Progress Series (1987): 1-8. bandicam 2019-06-10 09-45-41-358
  8. Gascon, Claude, et al. “Matrix habitat and species richness in tropical forest remnants.” Biological conservation 91.2-3 (1999): 223-229. The abilities of species to use the matrix of modified habitats surrounding forest fragments may affect their vulnerability in fragmented landscapes. We used long-term (up to 19-year) studies of four animal groups in central Amazonia to test whether species’ abundances in the matrix were correlated with their relative extinction proneness in forest fragments. The four groups, birds, frogs, small mammals, and ants, had varying overall responses to fragmentation: species richness of small mammals and frogs increased after fragment isolation, whereas that of birds and ants decreased. For all four groups, a high proportion of nominally primary-forest species were detected in matrix habitats, with 8–25% of species in each group found exclusively in the matrix. The three vertebrate groups (birds, small mammals, frogs) exhibited positive and significant correlations between matrix abundance and vulnerability to fragmentation, suggesting that species that avoid the matrix tend to decline or disappear in fragments, while those that tolerate or exploit the matrix often remain stable or increase. These results highlight the importance of the matrix in the dynamics and composition of vertebrate communities in tropical forest remnants, and have important implications for the management of fragmented landscapes.




Yoccoz, Nigel G




Species Abundance Biology in the Climate Change era  













FIGURE 1: CLIMATE SENSITIVITY IN A MOVING 60-YEAR WINDOW 1880-2018moving-had-gismoving-brk-rcp



The tweet says that humans and volcanoes caused nearly all of global heating in past 140 years and cites an article in The Guardian. The article cited may be found here:  [LINK]The Guardian article in turn cites Hegerl 2018 “The early 20th century warming: Anomalies, causes, and consequences” that may be found here [LINK] .

This post is a critical review of the claims made in the Hegerl 2018 paper.






  1. Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a theory that the observed long term warming trend “since pre-industrial times” (1880) is caused by fossil fuel emissions of the industrial economy in a two stage process. First, CO2 in fossil fuel emissions cause atmospheric CO2 concentration to rise. And second, higher atmospheric CO2 concentration imposes higher surface temperature by way of a absorption spectrum of CO2 described by Arrhenius and others in 1896. The proposed mechanism is that incident solar radiation reaches the surface relatively unhindered and there, though some is reflected, much of it causes the surface to get warmer and radiate long wave infrared back out to space. But some molecules in the atmosphere, notably CO2, absorbs IR at specific frequencies and then re-radiate the energy in all directions with approximately half of it returning to the surface. It is argued that this energy recycle causes the surface to be warmer than it would have been otherwise. And it is further argued that (1) this mechanism is the causal agent that explains the observed warming since pre-industrial times, and (2) that left unchecked the warming trend will have catastrophic consequences in terms of ice melt, sea level rise, and extreme weather as in heat waves, super storms, floods, and droughts.  These arguments are used as the rationale for an expensive overhaul of the world’s energy infrastructure away from fossil fuels as “climate action” to attenuate the effects of AGW.
  2. At the heart of the demand for climate action are two essential causation relationships. First, that the observed changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration are driven by fossil fuel emissions and that therefore they can be moderated with the climate action of reducing or eliminating fossil fuel emissions. The second essential causation relationship is the climate sensitivity relationships which holds that surface temperature is a linear function of the logarithm of atmospheric CO2 concentration. This relationship is normally expressed as: climate sensitivity = the temperature increase caused by a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. This is the essential equation that relates warming to rising atmospheric CO2 concentration and is the cornerstone of AGW theory as well as the rationale for the call for climate action. In this equation, climate sensitivity is a universal constant.
  3. Figure 1 presents empirical climate sensitivity values computed from observational data for the period 1880-2018 in a moving 60-year window. Four different datasets are used for these computations and their results are compared. They are three global temperature reconstructions; Hadley Centre (HAD), Berkeley Earth (BRK), and NASA GISS (GIS), and a dataset of the theoretical series RCP8.5 projected by climate models for the “no climate action” condition (RCP). The study period 1880-2018 is is the relevant time span as of this writing for the study of the impact of the fossil fueled industrial economy for global warming since pre-industrial times“. Each chart contains 12 lines colored differently for the twelve calendar months. The calendar months are kept separate and not combined into annual means because it is known that trend behavior varies among them as described in a related post [LINK] . The theoretical shape of these curves would resemble something close to a horizontal line within an uncertainty range described by the IPCC as 1.5<λ<4.5 whee λ is climate sensitivity. Although, some difference in value among the datasets is expected, that is not what we see in Figure 1.
  4. Figure 1 shows significant departures from theory in two ways. First, we find that the lines are not even approximately horizontal but that the observed sensitivity varies over a large range. This behavior indicates climate sensitivity varies according to location along the 139-year full span of the data 1880-2018 showing very high values in some 60-yr period and low values in others. High values indicate strong warming at low atmospheric CO2 concentration. Low values indicate weak warming at high atmospheric CO2 concentration. Both of these are anomalous in the context of AGW theory. The other anomaly in these charts is that the range of sensitivity values is much larger in the observational data than in the theoretical RCP8.5 series. A more detailed discussion of these anomalies is presented in a related post [LINK] .
  5. The high value of climate sensitivity varies from λ=8 in the BRK series to λ=4.5 for RCP with intermediate values of 6<λ<7 for HAD and GIS. For the observational data (HAD, BRK, GIS), the high value is seen for the 60-year period 1904-1963. In the theoretical series (RCP), the high value occurs twice, first in the 60-yr period 1884-1943, and again in the 1904-1963 period. The high value in the theoretical RCP series is within the IPCC range of 1.5<λ<4.5. The high values are much higher in the observational data particularly so in the BRK series. A high value of λ implies that a strong 60-year warming rate is seen at low atmospheric CO2 concentration.
  6. The low value of climate sensitivity varies from λ close to zero for HAD and BRK and values of λ<1 for GIS and RCP. These values are well outside the IPCC range of 1.5<λ<4.5. A low value of λ implies that no warming or a very low rate of warming was seen in a 60-year period with high atmospheric CO2 concentration. These results present a serious challenge to AGW theory which holds that λ should have the same value within a range 1.5<λ<4.5. The Hegerl 2018 paper cited above [LINK] addresses this issue and proposes explanations for these anomalies in the value of λ found in the observational data.
  7. To explain the observed anomaly in climate sensitivity, the Hegerl paper proposes a retraction of a prior climate science position that surface temperature is completely explained in terms of atmospheric CO2 concentration (Hansen 1981, Hansen 1988, Lacis 2010, Hansen&Lacis 2013, Hansen&Sato 2015) . The paper says that AGW theory that describes CO2 driven warming in terms of λ is seen in the latter part of the theoretical AGW period (described as the industrial economy (1880-2018) after the year 1950, the retraction says that natural factors should be taken into account in the earlier periods where anomalous values form λ are seen.
  8. In particular, the paper identifies the high λ period 1901-1950 referred to as Early Twentieth Century Warming (ETCW) as an anomaly not explained in terms of AGW and that therefore natural causes should be taken into account for the portion of the observed warming not explained by the accepted IPCC range of λ values. The author proposes that volcanic activity explains the unexplained warming and concludes that the warming anomaly of 1901-1950 does not violate AGW theory because the excess warming is explained by volcanic activity net of aerosol cooling.
  9. This study contains the so called Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. The most serious flaw in this analysis, that effectively nullifies its conclusions, is that a theory derived from data cannot be verified with the same data. That kind of empirical test suffers from circular reasoning. In climate science, as in economics, there is only one history and if the history is used to construct a theory that theory can only be tested in a different time span. The essential thesis of the paper that the latter period where acceptable values of λ are found does not require help from natural causes and that the early period where values of λ are anomalous must be explained in terms of natural causes is a case of circular reasoning in which the research methodology and the interpretation of the data are guided by the assumption of the truth of AGW theory. That the climate sensitivity anomaly in the early part of the industrial economy is explained by volcanism is supported by the data used to construct the hypothesis but that support has no interpretation in this case.
  10. A further use of circular reasoning used in the study is that volcanoes can cause both warming and cooling.  Cooling is caused with aerosol backscatter in the stratosphere. This condition allows flexibility in the interpretation of volcanic activity to suit the needs of the researcher. Yet a third flaw in the methodology is that the research question is itself biased. The author does not set out to determine what effect if any volcanic activity has had during the study period but rather to use volcanic data to “explain” the extra warming in specific portions of the study period where anomalies are found. The biased research question together with circular reasoning in the interpretation of results implies that no rational or scientific conclusion can be drawn from this work.

























  1. Paleo temperature reconstructions show that at some period between the 1500AD and 1900AD, Europe, and many other parts of the world, experienced a multi-centennial period of a cooling trend with growth of glaciers and ice sheets {Thompson, Lonnie G., et al. “The Little Ice Age as recorded in the stratigraphy of the tropical Quelccaya ice cap.” Science234.4774}. A bibliography of this event is provided in a related post on this site  [LINK]. This cold period, known as the Little Ice Age (LIA), was a period of great hardship for Europeans. Canals and rivers were frozen, growth of sea ice around Iceland closed down harbors and shipping, hailstorms and snowstorms were heavy and frequent, and road and water transport was made difficult or impossible. Agricultural failure and consequent starvation and death devastated Europe. The Scandinavian colonies in Greenland starved to death and disappeared.
  2. At some time between 1700AD and 1800AD the cooling trend of the LIA ended and soon thereafter, the the surface temperature reversed into a warming trend to the great delight of the suffering Europeans. By the 1930s, when the sustained warming trend was strong and it was noted that the end of the LIA and the beginning of the warming trend coincided roughly with the change from an agrarian economy with windmills, watermills, and beasts of burden as sources of energy, to an industrial economy with the combustion of coal and other fossil fuels dug up from under the ground providing the energy to drive rapid economic growth.
  3. In a 1938 paper {Callendar, G. (1938). The artificial production of carbon dioxide and its influence on temperature. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society , 64.275}, Guy Stewart Callendar wrote the world’s first AGW (anthropogenic global warming) paper. It is described in some detail in a related post on this site  [LINK] . The Callendar paper lays out the AGW scenario as it is preached by climate scientists today except that Callendar preferred the word “artificial” rather than “anthropogenic” to denote human cause and that the paper does not present the warming as an alarming trend but as a welcome relief from the LIA. The Callendar paper notes that atmospheric CO2 measurements taken at the surface in various parts of the UK and Europe showed a rising trend since 1900 during a time when the industrial economy was burning large quantities of fossil fuels and during a time when temperatures in England and in Europe were showing a warming trend. Callendar tied these three datasets together by (1) attributing rising atmospheric CO2 to the burning of fossil fuels in the rapidly growing industrial economy purely on the basis that both of these time series showed a rising trend and (2) attributing the warming trend to the heat trapping effect of atmospheric CO2 (and water) as described by Arrhenius in his now discredited theory of ice age cycles but applied by Callendar to a much shorter time scale. In his historic paper, Callendar concludes that the from 1900 to 1936 fossil fuel emissions drove up atmospheric CO2 by an amount that explains the observed warming trend and that therefore the observed warming trend 1900-1936 is artificial (human caused) by way of fossil fuel combustion of the industrial economy. Interestingly, Callendar computed a climate sensitivity of λ=2 in his paper consistent with Manabe {Manabe, Syukuro, and Richard T. Wetherald. “Thermal equilibrium of the atmosphere with a given distribution of relative humidity.” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 24.3, 1967}, but not consistent with the Charney/IPCC range of 1.5<λ<4.5 or with its 2019 revision by the IPCC to λ=5.
  4. There was some interest in this paper and a few papers followed in support of the Callendar artificial warming hypothesis but interest in this line of research was dampened when the strong warming of the 1900-1940, that had rescued boreal communities from the LIA, reverted to a sustained 30-year cooling trend from the 1940s to the 1970s. The cooling caused a real fear among boreal communities of a return to LIA conditions. The cooling trend, described in a related post  [LINK], discouraged the attempt to explain warming. The salient research paper of this period is Stephen Schneider’s evaluation that fossil fuel emissions contain not only CO2 but also aerosols that can end up in the stratosphere where they can “backscatter” incident solar radiation to cause cooling {Rasool, S. Ichtiaque, and Stephen H. Schneider. “Atmospheric carbon dioxide and aerosols: Effects of large increases on global climate.” Science 173.3992 (1971)}. Schneider’s concern was that the the rate of temperature increase due to CO2 diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; but for aerosols the rate of temperature decrease due to backscatter increases with increasing aerosol concentration of the stratosphere. Because of the exponential dependence of the backscattering, the rate of temperature decrease is augmented with increasing aerosol content. An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 ° K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger a return to LIA glaciation. Thus at a time of cooling, it could be rationalized that fossil fuel emissions of the industrialized economy can cause cooling which understandably, created fear of a return to LIA conditions.
  5. The cooling ended in the late 1970s and returned to warming in 1979. By 1981, the warming had intensified and this point in time is marked by a significant paper by James Hansen of NASA GISS {Hansen, J. (1981). Climate impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Science , 213.4511}. The Hansen paper brought the CO2 heat trapping argument of Callendar back to life along with the attribution of rising atmospheric CO2 to fossil fuel emissions of the industrial economy; and of the observed warming to the higher CO2 concentration of the atmosphere thus created. But quite unlike the Callendar paper of 1938 that had celebrated the warming in terms of relief from the Little Ice Age and the life giving property of CO2 in terms of photosynthesis, the Hansen paper of 1981 did an about turn in the evaluation of CO2 driven warming and declared Callendar’s “artificial warming” now rephrased as Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) and climate change, as a calamitous Biblical catastrophe that threatened the end the world as we know it with impacts such as sea level rise, floods, droughts, heat waves, superstorms, and wildfires. This assessment sowed the seeds of fear based activism.
  6. The evolution of AGW into a fear mongering device thus initiated accelerated in 1988 with Hansen’s congressional testimony [LINK]  of the horrors of AGW if the use of fossil fuels is not eliminated or drastically reduced and the estimation of a much greater catastrophe in his 1988 paper than in the 1981 paper {Hansen, James, et al. “Global climate changes as forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies three‐dimensional model.” Journal of geophysical research: Atmospheres 93.D8 (1988)}. The year 1988 was also the year that James Hansen presented his Congressional Testimony on the dangers of AGW that gripped his nation and the world with fear of AGW. The year 1988 thus marks the beginning of fear  based climate change activism against fossil fuels based on the proposition that the use of fossil fuels must be eliminated to save the planet [LINK] . This trend is apparent in this list of climate change news items 1980 to 2010 [LINK] .
  7. It was at this point in time that the United Nations, eager to extend its global jurisdiction by defining environmental problems on a global scale, stepped into the climate change arena and seized administrative control of the effort to “tackle” climate change by curtailing global emissions from fossil fuel combustion in a program that has come to be called “climate action”. The UN takeover was facilitated by the existence of the UNEP, the United Nations Environment Program founded in 1972 by global environmentalism visionary Maurice Strong.
  8. The apparent success of the UNEP was presented to the world in terms of its ability to tackle an apparently calamitous ozone depletion crisis of the 1980s with the “Montreal Protocol”. This international agreement to reduce or eliminate human emissions of ozone depleting substances masterminded by the UNEP is credited with saving the world from the harmful effects of anthropogenic ozone depletion. This was the world’s first globally defined environmental issue and the first apparently successful effort by the UNEP in its self described role as a global environmental protection authority.
  9. The ozone depletion chapter of global environmentalism by the UNEP is described in three related posts on this site [LINK][LINK] [LINK] . What is shown in these posts is that there was never any evidence of ozone depletion on a global scale and that the Montreal Protocol and its grand success is a case of first falsely declaring the existence of a non-existent problem and then after the HFC reduction was completed, simply declaring the false problem to have been solved by way of the Montreal Protocol with the UNEP taking the credit for having solved it.
  10. Having tasted great success in the ozone depletion scare with the Montreal Protocol of 1987, and having seen the power of debilitating fear, the UNEP was now poised to take charge of the AGW issue as it had been described by Hansen in his Congressional testimony of 1988 and related research papers.  Describing it broadly as a global environmental crisis that can be addressed only at the global level and therefore only by the United Nations, the role of the United Nations in the extension of its ozone success to the AGW issue is thus established [LINK].
  11. The Montreal Protocol success of the United Nations was driven by an extreme form of fear based activism that can be seen in its historical context described in a related post [LINK]. And yet, as shown in another related post [LINK] , the claimed scientific basis for the fear of human caused ozone depletion is shown to be flawed and without empirical support in the observational data. The success of the ozone depletion scare and the Montreal Protocol therefore established that a sufficient level of fear in fear based activism overcomes weaknesses and flaws in the science that is claimed to validate the basis for the fear.
  12. The UN thus proceeded on this basis to replicate their Montreal Protocol success in climate change with a hastily convened Kyoto Protocol in the model of the Montreal Protocol, to ban the production and use of fossil fuels just as the Montreal Protocol had banned the production and use of Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) that was claimed by scientists to be causing ozone depletion according to the Rowland Molina ozone depletion mechanism described in a related post [LINK] .
  13. However, there is, of course, a big difference between making refrigeration and hairspray somewhat more expensive and overhauling the fossil fueled energy infrastructure that gave us the industrial revolution and the high standard of living we enjoy today compared with the horse and buggy days. The idea that fossil fuels could be replaced with solar and wind power turned out to be superficial and poorly thought out by the UN bureaucrats involved.
  14. Their further bureaucratic errors led to an immensely complicated structure with the countries of the world divided into four different categories each with different climate action obligations that left all developing countries, even large consumers of fossil fuels such as India and China, without any climate action obligation. President Bush of the USA balked at this bureaucratic boondoggle and refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. In response, the UN quietly shelved the Kyoto Protocol and then resurrected it as the UNFCCC.
  15. The UNFCCC contained the same structure as the Kyoto Protocol but in a different political stance such that it gave the UN greater control over its content. The fundamental problem faced by the Kyoto Protocol/UNFCCC proposals, however, was the immensity of the task of removing the source of energy that produced and sustained the “industrial economy” and the high standard of living now enjoyed by humans. This turned out to be a bigger issue than the CFC ban by orders of magnitude – a difference apparently overlooked by the UNEP in its assumption that the Montreal Protocol success could be replicated with its  climate change version in the Kyoto Protocol / UNFCCC. The UN was thus forced to respond to this problem either by down-scaling their demands or by scaling up the fear of climate change to force the fossil fuel issue. They chose the latter.
  16. This is the path that would eventually lead to the transformation of climate science into fear based activism and its gradual escalation until it became necessary to recruit school children as protesters and of the incarnation of Greta Thunberg as their messiah. It is thus that what began with Callendar as relief from the horrors of the Little Ice Age and described as an effect of fossil fuel combustion of the industrial economy as a scientific curiosity without activism and without a call for reduction in emissions to prevent warming, became escalated into fear based activism after the dramatic claims of extreme weather and sea level rise of the Hansen testimony [LINK], derived mostly not from realities of the current interglacial but from what had happened naturally 120,000 years ago in the prior interglacial [LINK] , and yet claimed to be too extreme to be natural and that therefore they were the creation of human activity in terms of fossil fuel emissions of the industrial economy.
  17. When the UN entered the scene to take over Hansen’s call for a ban on fossil fuel emissions, climate change was fully transformed from Callendar’s scientific curiosity to the UN’s ozone-style fear based activism. Faced with failure after failure in the “Conference of Parties” (COP), the UN was forced to raise the fear level and escalate activism until it got to the point when all pretense to science was abandoned and the climate movement was thus thrust into full activism mode.
  18. It should also be noted that since Callendar’s, time, new evidence has emerged that the recovery from the LIA may have been natural and not driven by fossil fuel combustion of the industrial economy as described in a related post[LINK] . The Greta phenomenon in climate science is not a validation of its claimed scientific credentials but a validation of the absence of a scientific basis for activism against fossil fuel emissions.
































  1. Congressional Testimony of Dr. James Hansen, June 23, 1988
    On June 23, 1988, James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Space Institute gave testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  2. Opening Statement to the Committee, by Dr. James Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies: Mr. Chairman and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to present the results of my research on the greenhouse effect which has been carried out with my colleagues at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. I would like to draw three main conclusions. Number one, the earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements. Number two, the global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect. And number three, our computer climate simulations indicate that the greenhouse effect is already large enough to begin to effect the probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves.
  3. My first chart shows the global temperature over the period of instrumental records which is about 100 years. The present temperature is the highest in the period of record. The rate of warming in the past 25 years, as you can see on the right, is the highest on record. The four warmest years, as the Senator mentioned, have all been in the 1980s. And 1988 is so much warmer than 1987, that barring a remarkable and improbable cooling, 1988 will be the warmest year on the record.
  4. Now let me turn to my second point which is causal association of the greenhouse effect and the global warming. Causal association requires first that the warming be larger than natural climate variability and, second that the magnitude and nature of the warming be consistent with the greenhouse mechanism. These points are both addressed in my second chart. The observed warming during the past 30 years, which is the period when we have accurate measurements of atmospheric composition, is shown by the heavy black line in this graph. The warming is almost 0.4 degrees Centigrade by 1987 relative to climatology, which is defined as the 30-year mean, 1950 to 1980 and, in fact, the warming is more than 0.4 degrees Centigrade in 1988. The probability of a chance warming of that magnitude is about 1 percent. So with 99 percent confidence we can state that the warming during this time period is a real warming trend.
  5. The other curves in this figure are the results of global climate model calculations for three scenarios of atmospheric trace gas growth. We have considered several scenarios because there are uncertainties in the exact trace gas growth in the past and especially in the future. We have considered cases ranging from business as usual, which is scenario A, to draconian emission cuts, scenario C, which would totally eliminate net trace gas growth by the year 2000.
  6. The main point to be made here is that the expected global warming is of the same magnitude as the observed warming. Since there is only a 1 percent chance of an accidental warming of this magnitude, the agreement with the expected greenhouse effect is of considerable significance. Moreover, if you look at the next level of detail in the global temperature change, there are clear signs of the greenhouse gas effect. Observational data suggests a cooling in the stratosphere while the ground is warming. The data suggest somewhat more warming over land and sea ice regions than over open ocean, more warming at high latitudes than at low latitudes, and more warming in the winter than in the summer. In all of these cases, the signal is at best just beginning to emerge, and we need more data. Some of these details, such as the northern hemisphere high latitude temperature trends, do not look exactly like the greenhouse effect, but that is expected. There are certainly other climate factors involved in addition to the greenhouse effect.
  7. Altogether the evidence that the earth is warming by an amount which is too large to be a chance fluctuation and the similarity of the warming to that expected from the greenhouse effect represents a very strong case. In my opinion, that the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.
  8. Then my third point. Finally, I would like to address the question of whether the greenhouse effect is already large enough to affect the probability of extreme events, such as summer heat waves. As shown in my next chart, we have used the temperature changes computed in our global climate model to estimate the impact of the greenhouse effect on the frequency of hot summers in Washington, D.C. and Omaha, Nebraska. A hot summer is defined as the hottest one-third of the summers in the 1950 to 1980 period, which is the period the Weather Bureau uses for defining climatology. So, in that period the probability of having a hot summer was 33 percent, but by the 1990s, you can see that the greenhouse effect has increased the probability of a hot summer to somewhere between 55 percent and 70 percent in Washington according to our climate model simulations. In the late 1980s, the probability of a hot summer would be somewhat less than that. You can interpolate to a value of something like 40 to 60 percent.
  9. I believe that this change in the frequency of hot summers is large enough to be noticeable to the average person. So, we have already reached a point that the greenhouse effect is important. It may also have important implications other than for creature comforts.
  10. My last chart shows global maps of temperature anomalies for a particular month, July, for several different years between 1986 and 2029, as computed with our global climate model for the intermediate trace gas scenario B. As shown by the graphs on the left where yellow and red colors represent areas that are warmer than climatology and blue areas represent areas that are colder than climatology, at the present time in the 1980s the greenhouse warming is smaller than the natural variability of the local temperature. So, in any given month, there is almost as much area that is cooler than normal as there is warmer than normal. A few decades in the future, as shown on the right, it is warm almost everywhere.
  11. However, the point that I would like to make is that in the late 1980s and in the 1990s we notice a clear tendency in our model for greater than average warming in the southeast United States and the Midwest. In our model this result seems to arise because the Atlantic Ocean of the coast of the United States warms more slowly than the land. This leads to high pressure along the east coast and circulation of warm air north into the Midwest or southeast. There is only a tendency for this phenomenon. It is certainly not going to happen every, and climate models are certainly an imperfect tool at this time. However, we conclude that there is evidence that the greenhouse effect increases the likelihood of heat wave drought situations in the southeast and Midwest United States even though we cannot blame a specific drought on the greenhouse effect.
  12. Therefore, I believe that it is not a good idea to use the period 1950 to 1980 for which climatology is normally defined as an indication of how frequently droughts will occur in the future. If our model is approximately correct, such situations may be more common in the next 10 to 15 years than they were in the period 1950 to 1980.
  13. Finally, I would like to stress that there is a need for improving these global climate models, and there is a need for global observations if we’re going to obtain a full understanding of these phenomena. That concludes my statement, and I’d be glad to answer questions if you’d like.
  14. The prepared statement of Dr. Hansen follows
  15. The Greenhouse Effect: Impacts on Current Global Temperature and Regional Heat Waves; Presented to United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, June 23, 1988. This statement is based largely on recent studies carried out with my colleagues S. Lebedeff, D. Rind, I. Fung, A. Lacis, R. Ruedy, G. Russell, and P. Stone at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
  16. My principal conclusion are: (1) the earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements, (2) the global warming is now sufficiently large that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect, and (3) in our computer climate simulations the greenhouse effect now is already large enough to begin to effect the probability of occurrence of extreme events such as summer heat waves; the model results imply that heat wave/drought occurrences in the Southeast and Midwest United States may be more frequent in the next decade than in climatological (1950 – 1980) statistics.
  17. Current global temperatures: Present global temperatures are the highest in the period of instrumental records. The rate of global warming in the past two decades is higher than at any earlier time in the record. The four warmest years in the past century all have occurred in the 1980s. The global temperature in 1988 up to June 1 is substantially warmer than the like period in any previous year in the record. … The most recent two seasons (Dec.-Jan.-Feb. and Mar.-Apr.-May 1988) are the warmest in the entire record. The first five months are so warm globally that we conclude that 1988 will be the warmest year on record unless there is a remarkable, improbable cooling in the remainder of the year.
  18. Relationship of global warming and greenhouse effect
    Causal association of current global warming with the greenhouse effect requires determination that (1) the warming is larger than natural climate variability, and (2) the magnitude and nature of the warming is consistent with the greenhouse warming mechanism. Both of these issues are addressed quantitatively in Fig. 3, which compares recent observed global temperature change with climate model simulations of temperature changes expected to result from the greenhouse effect.
  19. The present observed global warming is close to 0.4 degrees C, relative to ‘climatology,’ which is defined as the thirty-year (1951 – 1980) mean. A warming of 0.4 degrees C is three times larger than the standard deviation of annual mean temperatures in the 30-year climatology. The standard deviation of 0.13 degrees C is a typical amount by which the global temperature fluctuates annually about its 30-year mean; the probability of a chance warming of three standard deviations is about 1 percent. Thus, we can state with about 99 percent confidence that current temperatures represent a real warming trend rather than a chance fluctuation over the 30-year period.
  20. We have made computer simulations of the greenhouse effect for the period since 1958, when atmospheric CO2 began to be measured accurately. A range of trace gas scenarios is considered so as to account for moderate uncertainties in trace gas histories and larger uncertainties in future trace gas growth rates. The nature of the numerical climate model used for these simulations is described in attachment A. There are major uncertainties in the model, which arise especially from assumptions about (1) global climate sensitivity and (2) heat uptake and transport by the ocean, as discussed in attachment A. However, the magnitude of temperature changes computed with our climate model in various test cases is generally consistent with a body of empirical evidence and with sensitivities of other climate models.
  21. The global temperature change simulated by the model yields a warming over the past 30 years similar in magnitude to the observed warming. In both the observations and model, the warming is close to 0.4 degrees C by 1987, which is the 99 percent confidence level. It is important to compare the spatial distribution of observed temperature changes with computer model simulations of the greenhouse effect, and also to search for other global changes related to the greenhouse effect, for example, changes in ocean heat content and sea ice coverage. As yet, it is difficult to obtain definitive conclusions from such comparisons, in part because the natural variability of regional temperatures is much larger than that of global mean temperature. However, the climate model simulations indicate that certain gross characteristics of the greenhouse warming should begin to appear soon, for example, somewhat greater warming at high latitudes than at low latitudes, greater warming over continents than over oceans, and cooling in the stratosphere while the troposphere warms. Indeed, observations contain evidence for all these characteristics, but much more study and improved records are needed to establish the significance of trends and to use the spatial information to understand better the greenhouse effect. Analyses must account for the fact that there are climate change mechanisms at work, besides the greenhouse effect; other anthropogenic effects, such as changes in surface albedo and tropospheric aerosols, are likely to be especially important in the Northern Hemisphere.
  22. We can also examine the greenhouse warming over the full period for which global temperature change has been measured, which is approximately the past 100 years. On such a longer period the natural variability of global temperature is larger; the standard deviation of global temperature for the past century is 0.2 degrees C. The observed warming over the past century is 0.6 – 0.7 degrees C. Simulated greenhouse warming for the past century is in the range of 0.5 to 1.0 degrees C, depending upon various modeling assumptions. Thus, although there are greater uncertainties about climate forcings in the past century than in the past 30 years, the observed and simulated greenhouse warming are consistent on both these time scales.
  23. Conclusion
    Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming. Certainly further study of this issue must be made. The detection of a global greenhouse signal represents only a first step in analysis of the phenomenon. With regard to greenhouse impacts on summer heat waves, global climate models are not yet sufficiently realistic to provide reliable predictions of the impact of greenhouse warming on detailed regional climate patterns. However, it is useful to make initial studies with state-of-the-art climate models; the results can be examined to see whether there are regional climate change predictions which can be related to plausible physical mechanisms. At the very least, such studies help focus the work needed to develop improved climate models and to analyze observed climate change.
  24. One prediction of regional climate change which has emerged in such climate model studies of the greenhouse effect is a tendency for mid-latitude continental drying in the summer (references 3, 4, 5). Dr. Manabe will address this important issue in his testimony today. Most of these studies have been for the case of doubled atmospheric CO2, a condition which may occur by the middle of the next century.
  25. Our studies during the past several years at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies have focused on the expected transient climate change during the next few decades, as described in the attachment to my testimony. Typical results from our simulation for trace gas scenario B … shows computed July temperature anomalies in several years between 1986 and 2029. In the 1980s, the global warming is small compared to the natural variability of local monthly mean temperatures; thus, the area with cool temperatures in a given July is almost as great as the area with warm temperatures. However, within about a decade the area with above normal temperatures becomes much larger than the area with cooler temperatures.
  26. The specific temperature patterns for any given month and year should not be viewed as predictions for that specific time, because they depend upon unpredictable weather fluctuations. However, characteristics which tend to repeat warrant further study, especially if they occur for different trace gas scenarios. We find a tendency in our simulations of the late 1980s and the 1990s for greater than average warming in the Southeast and Midwest United States. These areas of high temperatures are usually accompanied by below normal precipitation.
  27. Examination of the changes in sea level pressure and atmospheric winds in the model suggests that the tendency for larger than normal warming in the Midwest and Southeast is related to the ocean’s response time; the relatively slow warming of surface waters in the mid-Atlantic off the Eastern United States and in the Pacific off California tends to increase sea level pressure in those ocean regions and this in turn tends to cause more southerly winds in the eastern United States and more northerly winds in the western United States. However, the tendency is too small to be apparent every year; in some years in the 1990s, the eastern United States is cooler than climatology (the control run mean).
  28. Conclusion: It is not possible to blame a specific heatwave/drought on the greenhouse effect. However, there is evidence that the greenhouse effect increases the likelihood of such events; our climate model simulations for the late 1980s and the 1990s indicate a tendency for an increase of heatwave/drought situations in the Southeast and Midwest United States. We note that the correlations between climate models and observed temperatures are often very poor at subcontinental scales, particularly during Northern Hemisphere summer (reference 7). Thus, improved understanding of these phenomena depends upon the development of increasingly realistic global climate models and upon the availability of global observations needed to verify and improve the models.
  29. With thanks to David Burton for maintaining the text of the Hansen testimony on his site at [LINK] .







  1. The phrase “greenhouse effect” to describe long wave absorption/radiation by atmospheric CO2 implies that this effect has something to do with greenhouses. It is true that large a quantity of carbon dioxide is inserted into greenhouses to maintain CO2 levels of 1000 ppm to 2000 ppm but elevated levels of CO2 is used in greenhouses to supply photosynthesis demands of the plants and not for temperature control. Temperature control is achieved with heaters and during daylight, also by the glass walls and roof that prevent convection. Related post   [LINK].
  2. A point stressed more than once by Hansen is the very high temperature in the year 1988 described as much hotter than 1987 and as the highest in the instrumental record going back 100 years. The high temperature in 1988 is also described as a harbinger of much hotter times to come. The GIF image in Figure 1 above shows UAH tropospheric temperatures for each calendar month. The GIF animation cycles through the twelve calendar months. Here we can see that in the summer and early autumn months of July, August, and September, the Hansen emphasis on 1988 is defensible at least in terms of being higher than at any time in the previous decade but even there it does not appear to be a harbinger of higher temperatures to come in the short term as lower temperatures immediately follow. In any case, the year 1988 does not stand out as a high temperature event in any of the other nine calendar months.
  3. It should also be pointed out that Hansen’s excessive reliance on alarming temperature events is inconsistent with the theory of AGW by way of long wave absorption by atmospheric CO2 which relates only to long term trends and not to temperature events which are known to contain large natural short term extremes. For example, the extreme El Nino events in the years 1998 and 2016 are clearly visible as high temperature events in Figure 1 but they have no AGW implication although NASA (and climate scientists in general) have repeatedly used the high temperature in 2016 as evidence of AGW and the dangers of “human caused climate change”.
  4. The statement that “our computer climate simulations indicate that the greenhouse effect is already large enough to begin to affect the probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves” is inconsistent with patterns seen in the daily station data. These data, for both hemispheres (USA and Australia) show a clear, consistent, and persistent pattern that indicates that the warming trend derives mostly from rising nighttime daily low temperatures (TMIN) and not from daytime daily high temperatures (TMAX). These data also show that the warming is found mostly in the winter months and not in the summer months. Details of the data analysis for these patterns may be found in related posts on this site [LINK] [LINK]  .
  5. However, the AGW issue is not whether it is warming but whether the warming if any is caused by fossil fuel emissions and whether the prescribed climate action of reducing fossil fuel emissions will change the rate of warming. Hansen’s approach to this critical issue is stated as “Causal association requires first that the warming be larger than natural climate variability and, second that the magnitude and nature of the warming be consistent with the greenhouse mechanism“. However, that the warming is larger than natural variability and that the “nature” of warming is consistent with the greenhouse mechanism do not constitute empirical evidence particularly so since these subjective patterns were derived from climate models which contain the theory. It is not possible to test theory with a device that assumes the theory. It must be shown in the observational data, without the use of climate models, that the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 is causally related to fossil fuel emissions and that the observed rate of warming is causally related to rising atmospheric CO2 concentration. Hansen does not present any such evidence.
  6. The relationship between emissions and atmospheric CO2 concentration is studied in four related posts [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] . No evidence is found to relate changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration to fossil fuel emissions and it is shown that the flow accounting of the carbon cycle that relates rising atmospheric CO2 to emissions does so with the use of circular reasoning.
  7. In terms of AGW theory, the relationship between atmospheric CO2 concentration and the rate of warming is established with the so called climate sensitivity parameter (ECS) derived from the required linear relationship between temperature and log(atmospheric CO2) but the value of this relationship, even in climate models, suffers from uncertainty with values ranging from ECS<2 to ECS>4. When observational data are used in the estimation the uncertainty becomes much larger as described in related posts [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] .  In a parody it is shown that the methodology used to relate warming to CO2 also relates homicides to CO2 but with stronger statistical confidence [LINK] .
  8. Climate science has responded to its uncertainty problem in relating warming to atmospheric CO2 concentration by proposing a relationship between cumulative emissions and surface temperature. It has been shown that there is an almost perfect “proportionality” (correlation) between cumulative emissions and temperature. The regression coefficient of this relationship for surface temperature as a function of cumulative emissions is called the Transient Climate Response to Cumulative Emissions (TCRE). It has been proposed by Knutti and others that the climate science should move past the problematic ECS and adopt the TCRE as the appropriate way to relate warming to emissions. And in fact, climate action policies in terms of mitigation pathways derived from a carbon budget for any level of warming are derived from the TCRE. Thus, climate science now claims to have the empirical evidence from observational data that relates warming to emissions.
  9. However, as shown in a related post, the TCRE “proportionality” suffers from a fatal statistical flaw because the correlation has neither time scale nor degrees of freedom [LINK] . When finite time scales are introduced and degrees of freedom are created for the statistical test, the correlation disappears [LINK] . A parody shows that, not just emissions, but any  time series that contains mostly positive values will produce the high “proportionality” seen in the TCRE [LINK] .
  10. In response to Hansen’s vague responses to empirical evidence in terms of  “Causal association requires first that the warming be larger than natural climate variability and, second that the magnitude and nature of the warming be consistent with the greenhouse mechanism“, we propose that this argument is insufficient because the results of rigorous statistical tests of the observational data do not show the relationship between emissions and warming implied by these vague and subjective generalities.
  11. With regard to the statement about stratospheric cooling stated as “Moreover, if you look at the next level of detail in the global temperature change, there are clear signs of the greenhouse gas effect. Observational data suggests a cooling in the stratosphere while the ground is warming”. Climate models do indeed show that lower stratospheric temperature is indeed inversely responsive to tropospheric temperature in the GHG effect of CO2 because of the longwave energy removed by CO2 from earth’s radiation. However, the direction of long term trends by itself cannot be used to infer causation as demonstrated in a large collection of spurious correlations by Tyler Vigen [LINK] . To infer causation, the correlation must be shown at the time scale of interest. A related post shows that there is no evidence in the observational data to indicate that either tropospheric warming or lower stratospheric cooling is responsive to changes in LN(CO2) or that stratospheric cooling is responsive to tropospheric warming, at an annual time scale. These result do not support the theory of causation that links stratospheric cooling to tropospheric warming as claimed by Hansen. Two related posts on the effect of atmospheric CO2 on temperature are relevant to these findings [LINK] [LINK] .
  12. CONCLUSION: Claims by Hansen in the testimony of the extreme temperature in 1988 as a harbinger of hotter years to come, of summer heat waves caused by AGW, of proof of the GHG effect of CO2 in terms of observed variability greater than what is assumed to be natural and of the warming behavior, and the additional proof of the GHG effect in terms of stratospheric cooling, are not consistent with the observational data. 














bandicam 2019-05-01 16-57-19-983









  1. Figure 1 is a graphical representation of a large number of climate sensitivity values from the literature 1970-2018, both purely empirical (unconstrained) and constrained by climate models. The Charney 1979 estimate of ECS=3 with 90% confidence interval of ECS=[1.5, 4.5] is sanctioned by the IPCC and widely accepted in climate science. It is used here to compare all values in Figure 1 against this interval.
  2. Figure 2 is a comparison of all the reported ECS values in Figure 1 against the Charney/IPCC interval ECS=[1.5, 4.5]. In the GT section of Figure 2 we find that in the full sample 1963-2018, only 20% of the ECS values shown in Figure 1 were greater than the the Charney interval ECS=[1.5, 4.5]. This rate is somewhat lower in the early period 1963-2001 at just 13% but much higher in the later period 2001-2018 at 30%. It appears that there has been a gradual inflation of ECS estimates in the literature over the period 1963-2018.
  3. In the LT section of Figure 2 we find that in the full sample 1963-2018, 18% of the ECS values shown in Figure 1 were less than the the Charney interval ECS=[1.5, 4.5]. This rate is somewhat lower in the early period 1963-2001 at just 13% but somewhat higher in the later period 2001-2018 at 23%.
  4. The EITHER section of the chart in Figure 2 is test of whether the reported ECS value lies within the Charney interval. The first column displays the sum of the GT and LT values and the second column, computed as 100% minus the sum, is the percent of reported ECS values that were within the Charney interval. Here we find good agreement of reported values with the Charney interval with 62% of the reported values within the interval in the full sample period 1963-2018. However, the agreement appears to be driven primarily by early values 1963-2001 with 75% within the interval. The agreement is less impressive in the later period 2001-2018 with less than half or 48% of the reported values within the Charney/IPCC interval of ECS=[1.5,4.5].
  5. A possible reason for the gradual departure from the Charney interval over time is that both the Charney and Manabe estimates of old were derived from computer models with little if any constraints of observational data. This approach to climate sensitivity has gradually changed over time with both paleo and observational data used directly for ECS estimates. Many of these estimates are of course “constrained” by climate models but lately the trend has been mostly to empirical estimates. This evolution of ECS estimation methodology is consistent with the observed divergence of ECS estimates from Charney’s climate model derived interval.
  6. It should also be considered that the high rate of agreement with the Charney interval (particularly in older estimates) derives in large part from the great width of this interval from ECS=1.5 to ECS=4.5. The carbon budget and climate action implications of the two ends are so different that the interval loses all value as a tool for formulating climate action plans. The Charney interval is not very useful in that context because of its large span which in turn also serves to show good agreement with a large and varied set of climate sensitivity estimates.
  7. In fact the large span of the Charney climate sensitivity interval of ECS=[1.5, 4.5] traverses significant differences in carbon budget and climate action options and possibilities. This interval is not useful information but rather an admission of the absence of information. It is not possible for climate science to propose climate action options without sensitivity information and the IPCC climate sensitivity range is a useless range in that regard and perhaps an inadvertent admission by the IPCC that though we urge and promote climate action, we do not have the information we need to formulate climate action plans.
  8. A related issue in constructing climate action plans is a statistical weakness in the TCRE parameter that forms the basis of computing carbon budgets in terms of cumulative emissions. This issue is presented in a related post [LINK] .








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