Medieval Warm Period seen in western USA tree ring fire scars

Here is just one more indication that despite what some would like you to believe, the MWP was not a regional “non event”.

Top: Mann/IPCC view, bottom historical view


From a University of Arizona press release,
Giant Sequoias Yield Longest Fire History from Tree Rings

California’s western Sierra Nevada had more frequent fires between 800 and 1300 than at any time in the past 3,000 years, according to a new study led by Thomas W. Swetnam, director of UA’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

This cross-section of a giant sequoia tree shows some of the tree-rings and fire scars. The numbers indicate the year that a particular ring was laid down by the tree. (Credit: Tom Swetnam)

By Mari N. Jensen, UA College of Science March 17, 2010

A 3,000-year record from 52 of the world’s oldest trees shows that California’s western Sierra Nevada was droughty and often fiery from 800 to 1300, according to a new study led by University of Arizona researchers.

Scientists reconstructed the 3,000-year history of fire by dating fire scars on ancient giant sequoia trees, Sequoiadendron giganteum, in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park. Individual giant sequoias can live more than 3,000 years.

“It’s the longest tree-ring fire history in the world, and it’s from this amazing place with these amazing trees.” said lead author Thomas W. Swetnam of the UA. “This is an epic collection of tree rings.”

The new research extends Swetnam’s previous tree-ring fire history for giant sequoias another 1,000 years into the past. In addition, he and his colleagues used tree-ring records from other species of trees to reconstruct the region’s past climate.

The scientists found the years from 800 to 1300, known as the Medieval Warm Period, had the most frequent fires in the 3,000 years studied. Other research has found that the period from 800 to 1300 was warm and dry.

“What’s not so well known about the Medieval Warm Period is how warm it was in the western U.S.,” Swetnam said. “This is one line of evidence that it was very fiery on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada – and there’s a very strong relationship between drought and fire.”

Droughts are typically both warm and dry, he added.

Knowing how giant sequoia trees responded to a 500-year warm spell in the past is important because scientists predict that climate change will probably subject the trees to such a warm, dry environment again, said Swetnam, a UA professor of dendrochronology and director of UA’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

During the Medieval Warm Period extensive fires burned through parts of the Giant Forest at intervals of about 3 to 10 years, he said. Any individual tree was probably in a fire about every 10 to 15 years.

The team also compared charcoal deposits in boggy meadows within the groves to the tree-ring fire history. The chronology of charcoal deposits closely matches the tree-ring chronology of fire scars.

The health of the giant sequoia forests seems to require those frequent, low-intensity fires, Swetnam said. He added that as the climate warms, carefully reintroducing low-intensity fires at frequencies similar to those of the Medieval Warm Period may be crucial for the survival of those magnificent forests, such as those in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Since 1860, human activity has greatly reduced the extent of fires. He and his colleagues commend the National Park Service for its recent work reintroducing fire into the giant sequoia groves.

The team’s report, “Multi-Millennial Fire History of the Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, California, USA,” was published in the electronic journal Fire Ecology in February. A complete list of authors and funding sources is at the bottom of this story.

To study tree rings, researchers generally take a pencil-sized core from a tree. The oldest rings are those closest to the center of the tree. However, ancient giant sequoias can have trunks that are 30 feet in diameter – far too big to be sampled using even the longest coring tools, which are only three feet long.

To gather samples from the Giant Forest trees, the researchers were allowed to collect cross-sections of downed logs and standing dead trees, he said. It turned out to be a gargantuan undertaking that required many people and many field seasons.

“We were sampling with the largest chain saws we could find – a chain-saw bar of seven feet,” he said. “We were hauling these slabs of wood two meters on a side as far as two kilometers to the road. We were using wheeled litters – the emergency rescue equipment for people – and put a couple hundred pounds on them.”

To develop a separate chronology for past fires, co-authors R. Scott Anderson and Douglas J. Hallett looked for charcoal in sediment cores taken from meadows within the sequoia groves.

“We can compare the charcoal and tree-ring fire records. It confirms that the charcoal is a good indicator of past fires,” Swetnam said.

Such charcoal-based fire histories can extend much further into the past than most tree-ring-based fire histories, he said. The charcoal history of fire in the giant sequoia groves extends back more than 8,000 years.

Increasingly, researchers all over the world are using charcoal to reconstruct fire histories, Swetnam said. Many scientists are analyzing the global record of charcoal to study relationships between climate, fire and the resulting addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Swetnam’s co-authors are Christopher H. Baisan and Ramzi Touchan of the University of Arizona; Anthony C. Caprio of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in Three Rivers, Calif.; Peter M. Brown of the Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research and Colorado State University in Fort Collins; R. Scott Anderson of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff; and Douglas J. Hallett of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

The National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest and Calaveras Big Trees State Park provided funding.

h/t to Dr. Leif Svalgaard

About these ads

195 thoughts on “Medieval Warm Period seen in western USA tree ring fire scars

  1. I know Three Rivers quite well as my brother and mother lived there for many years. Anyone who has been into the park and seen these incredibly large, ancient trees close up could not help but come away humbled and more than a bit awestruck. It’s comforting to know those magnificent forests can survive harsh changes in climate.

    Those tree rings provide pretty hard evidence that the MWP extended at least as far as the western USA. Evidence that’s hard to refute, I should think.

    I wonder what those same rings would say about temperatures over the past 25-30 centuries?

  2. I wonder if it is possible to calibrate other long living trees like the bristle-cone pine with the sequoia.

    Does anybody know if the sequoia tree diverges like bristle-cone pine trees do with respect to recent ground-based temperature readings, say for the past 30-year period?

  3. “…carefully reintroducing low-intensity fires at frequencies similar to those of the Medieval Warm Period may be crucial for the survival of those magnificent forests, such as those in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.”

    Yet the alarmists would blame more frequent fires in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks on global warming. I am all too aware that some plant species do better after they have been subjected to fire and some species are dependent on fire occuring at some time in their life cycles.

    “America’s most-cherished legacy tree, the giant Sequoia, is known as a “fire-dependent” species because it requires the heat effects of fire in order to prepare the soil and release the seeds of the next generation of sequoias.”

    http://www.fireecology.org/research/USFS_fire_dependent.html

    More here:

    http://www.nifc.gov/preved/comm_guide/wildfire/fire_6.html

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1016/is_2_108/ai_89023208/

  4. I should have said:

    “Yet the alarmists would blame more frequent fires in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks on man made global warming.”

  5. Happy st. Patrick’s day all!
    I must say that I believe the temperature record has been perverted for twisted anti-human reasons and considering the damage the aforementioned has done we should all be delighted that, our expense, the likes of the UN’s carbon-trading mastermind; the haggard Dr. Graciela “my head looked vaguely human until I had it horrifically cut up in bits at your expense” Cichilnisky had loads of our cash with which to deform their faces.

    http://images.google.ie/images?um=1&hl=en&tbs=isch%3A1&sa=1&q=graciela+chichilnisky&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&start=0

    Why grow old gracefully when you can spend other’s money making you look like something out of a horror movie?

  6. But how did they know which trees were the “fire detector trees”? We know from the most famous tree ring studies that some trees are “temperature trees” and others are not. Researchers had to cull through thousands of tree ring records to find those 10 or 12 temperature trees that produced the hockey stick. Apparently, toward the end of the 20th century there were no longer ANY temperature trees. How can finding “fire detector trees” be so simple?

    (I’ll save Andrew the trouble here and mark my comments as “sarcasm”)

  7. They are not really thicker rings, nor is there any evidence of fire damage, after the data is adjusted it is quite clear that nothing happened until 1968.

  8. The odd thing is the periodicity of the fires, every 3-10 years for an average around 7. It’s also interesting that the EAST coast has intense rain and snow precipitation about every 7 years. So while the west coast dries out and burns up, the east coast gets dumped on and digs out. At least we have an idea where all that moisture went during the drought. At least one climate scientist, Judith Curry, understands its important to understand the ocean cycle’s affect on climate and weather.

  9. The normal weather regime for California is wet winters and dry summers. Fires, by themselves are not an indication of drought. They could indicate an unusual amount of lightning. Even during wet years, summer lightning will cause significant fires. I am always a bit suspicious of the Hot-Dry / Cold-Wet view of weather and reports that try to support it. The usual pattern as indicated by the palaeoclimatological record, is Hot-Wet / Cold-Dry. But California, being a western coast, has a unique climate pattern. I would be interested in finding out what the evidence is for unusual drought conditions. Can anyone help educate me?

  10. I thought that the AGW dogma wrote the MWP off as a northern hemisphere issue, not just a “regional” issue. If that is the case, then showing American data with a MWP doesn’t touch this claim. Am I wrong somewhere?

  11. How would one region of the earth remain perpetually MUCH warmer than the rest for Centuries? Bulls..t!

  12. If oxygen isotopes fractionate in the low energy processes when water evaporates, as is alleged, maybe carbon isotopes fractionate in the high energy processes of charcoal formation. Any references known?

  13. 4 billion (18:27:31) :
    Evidence of regional cooling during the MWP.

    “Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week
    Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 811 individual scientists from 483 separate research institutions in 43 different countries … and counting! This issue’s Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Southwest Greenland. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project’s database, click here.”

    http://co2science.org/

  14. is anyone else to the point where seeing the hockey stick makes you nauseated?

  15. Come on people now!!!!!!!

    Human beings have been living in the Sierras for 10,000+ years. It is well-known and well-documented that human beings everywhere and in CA, too, set fires to modify the landscape for survival purposes. I venture that EVERY fire scar Swetnam et al looked is from an anthropogenic fire!!!!

    Do you blame car accidents on climate change????? Number of baseball games?????

    This is a human-mediated, human-caused phenomenon being investigated. It has nothing, zero, nada to do with climate. Sorry all you desperately seeking Medieval Warm Period evidence folks — this ain’t it.

    The article says, “Since 1860, human activity has greatly reduced the extent of fires.” That’s just backasswards. Human activity, i.e. anthropogenic fire, has declined ever since those responsible for setting the fires were wiped out by Old World diseases and Euro-American invaders.

    The Americas were not devoid of people when Columbus landed. Even he didn’t claim that. It is thought that ~50,000,000 humans lived in the Americas in 1492. Many were in CA, and like people everywhere, they controlled the fire regimes.

    Look, I know it’s not what you were taught in the horrifically bad public school you attended. But it’s a fact, nonetheless. Setting fire is as much a part of being human as opposable thumbs. Chances are fires have been annual in the Sierras for thousands of years. Swetnam is a deluded racist historical revisionist cultural bigot crappy scientist if he doesn’t think that’s so.

    Come on folks. Leif, tell ‘em. You can’t take an anthropogenically caused phenomenon and detect micro climate change in it. That’s goofy. I’m not saying there was no MWP. All I’m saying is fire scars in a human-mediated cultural landscape are not climate proxies!!!!!!!!!

  16. 4 billion (18:27:31) :

    The MWP was not warm the entire time.

    Looking at the smoothed graph it would appear that it was. Do you know what smoothing is?

    The raw data shows temps were up and down during those years.

    But the data also shows the warm years were much warmer than warm years now in this two past decades—supposedly the warmest decades on the last 1000 years.

    “Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium …””

  17. Ian McLeod (17:55:06)

    “I wonder if it is possible to calibrate other long living trees like the bristle-cone pine with the sequoia.”

    Someone who knows more than me about this may correct me but…….As I understand it, bristle-cones are strip bark trees and cannot be used as temperature proxies because of the way they grow. They do not grow in concentric circles. One area will die and cause growth favorably in another area. That is why the trunk cross sections are so oddly shaped. There are simply to many covariants to tease a temperature signal out.

  18. @Mike D: But if humans were setting fires for millennia, there should have been an equal number of tree ring damage before and after the MWP — and there wasn’t.

  19. The lower graph that heads this piece seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the university press release.

    The lower graph is labelled “Climatic Changes in Europe.” The tree ring study was done in the western Sierra Nevada, in the United States. How do you expect to convince even open-minded and receptive people (such as myself) when you do this kind of thing?

    Moreover, the graphs are not properly sourced. “IPCC Hockey Stick,” reproduced from where? “Historical view,” measured how, reproduced from where?

    Also the university press release makes no estimates whatsoever about the actual temperature during the medieval warm period, only that it was “warm and dry.”

    You have more than enough evidence for skepticism without presenting this kind of sloppy, misleading material.

  20. There is a tree in Yosemite called the fallen giant. About 20 years ago, I bought one of those wide view disposable cameras to use on trip to Yosemite. I took a picture of my wife standing next to the trunk of the Fallen Giant. The photo is roughly 3×8 wide. I sometimes take the album out and say to people, “my wife is in this photo. Can you find her?” Without exception, people are unable to locate her because they don’t comprehend the scale of the human vs the tree.

  21. Doug Badgero,

    You are correct about those knotty bristle-cone pines, I agree with everything you said, but unfortunately, some still use them as a temperature proxy and they happen to be one of the most divergent trees used.

  22. Mike D. (18:55:01) :

    Do forest fires ever start naturally?

    I have heard of native Indians starting prairie fires. But not too much about forest fires.

    Could you provide a link or a book title that shows that American Indians started forest fires?

  23. Mike D. (18:55:01) :

    And if American Indians did start forest fires why did they start more of them during the Medieval Warm Period, 800 to 1300, than at any other time?

  24. Here’s a photo that approximates the one that I took of my wife, although mine was better (of course!)

    The post by Mari Jensen is right on. There is much to be learned from these trees, as opposed to, say, Yamal as interpreted by Briffa.

  25. Puzzling Graphs

    This article was supposed to be about the findings of a study titled “Multi-Millennial Fire History of the Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, California, USA. I was puzzled by the graphs at the beginning of the article, so I went to the study for clarification. But I did not find these graphs in the study.

  26. savethesharks (18:10:40) :

    I have 1/2 dozen of them growing in my yard. They love to be planted in soil that has been cooked by a hot fire. No fertilizer. Just Sun, C02, water and raw mineral soil. The tops of them follow the sun, bending up to 15 degrees.

  27. Mike D.

    “It is thought that 50,000,000 people lived in the Americas before 1492..”

    I had an anthropology professor, 40 years ago, who asked just that question. But more specific to the size of the “Native American” population prior to the “white man” coming to America.

    He got all sorts of answers, many in the multi millions. He then laid down the bomb: “Prior to the ‘white man’..coming to America, there NEVER was more than 500,000 in habitants in the whole of North America, and likewise in South America. That’s what we will prove this semester!”

    He then went on TO prove it, by studying the “remains” of the ancient groups, and reviewing either their “hunter gatherer” life style or their LIMITED agriculture.

    To claim that the sequoia’s, WITH NO TRACE OF MAN in the area going back 1500, 2000 years… were harmed by fires set by man is at BEST, ludicrous. At worse, a facicious, ficticious untruth.

  28. Mike,

    The authors are correct. Forestry service conservation practices altered the natural, low intensity burn offs that occurred in regularly over the centuries in the Sierra and elsewhere. The Forestry Service thought forest fires were to be fought and extinguished immediately. That practice allowed the unprecedented build up of tinder-dry fuel over decades. Forest fires became conflagrations and we lost more timber than we saved. It wasn’t until relatively recently that the Forest Service came to understand that nature’s way was the best way to conserve our forests.

    I don’t know of any reason why the prehistoric hunter-gatherers who inhabited the western US would have started fires in the Sierra or other western forests, unlike their agriculturally-based slash and burn relatives in southern Mexico, Central and South America.

  29. Ref – Mike D. (18:55:01) :
    “Come on people now!!!!!!!
    “Human beings have been living in the Sierras for 10,000+ years. It is well-known and well-documented that human beings everywhere and in CA, too, set fires to modify the landscape for survival purposes. I venture that EVERY fire scar Swetnam et al looked is from an anthropogenic fire!!!!”
    ________________________________

    On this issue I think you may be a tinnsy winnsy wrong. Fires for clearing, yes. Accidental fires, yes. Fires in the grove of the Gods set deliberately to tick the “The Great Spirit” and his friends off and bring famine and disease to you and your tribe? No way Jose! The only people crazy and dumb enough to ever try something that stupid were born in the last 25 years and, fortunately, none of them have been successful -to date.

  30. In other places in the world (eg the Sahara), regions of the world became warmer and wetter during the MWP. But in the American West, it became drier, which suggests that during warmer periods, La Nina predominates in the Pacific.

  31. 4 billion (18:27:31) :

    The MWP was not warm the entire time.

    Looking at the smoothed graph it would appear that it was. Do you know what smoothing is?

    The raw data shows temps were up and down during those years.

    But the data also shows the warm years were much warmer than warm years now in this two past decades—supposedly the warmest decades on the last 1000 years.

    “Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium …””
    ————————

    I believe that’s from the NRC report that the American Statistical Association discusses in a newsletter. The newsletter also had this to say about the NRC’s findings”

    ‘Despite all this evidence, the NRC report phrased its conclusions cautiously, concluding it was no more than “plausible” (2:1 odds in favor) that the temperatures of the last few decades were unprecedented in recorded history.’

    http://www.amstat-online.org/sections/envr/ssenews/ENVR_9_1.pdf

  32. Pascvaks (19:43:16) :

    Clarification –

    “Fires for clearing, yes.” But NOT in the Grove of The Giants! There’s not a whole lot of great sunlight for your pumpkins and squash.

  33. Mike D
    The Americas were not devoid of people when Columbus landed. Even he didn’t claim that. It is thought that ~50,000,000 humans lived in the Americas in 1492>>

    Wow. Columbus landed in 1492 and did a population survey across a few million square miles of continent? How’d he do it? Stand in the crows nest at the top of the mast of one of his ships with a spyglass and count them? Not to mention that 50,000,000 people could not possibly feed themselves as a hunter gatherer society. Also not to mention that primitive tribes who lived off the land were skilled outdoorsmen which would include knowing how to control a campfire. If they weren’t skilled outdoorsman… well then they were dead.

  34. What is the accuracy range of dating tree rings this old? 1 yr? 10? 25? 50? 100? What?

    I’m more and more wondering if the hockey stick disappeared the MWP in large part because of inaccurate dating of multiply proxies cancelling each other out.

  35. Mike D. (18:55:01) :

    ~50,000,000 humans lived in the Americas in 1492. Many were in CA, and like people everywhere, they controlled the fire regimes.

    I don’t think either one of these facts are correct, especially about ‘Many were in CA’.

    Would you tell me the source?

  36. Wren (19:34:00) :

    Are you feeling ok Wren? Do you have a fever or anything?

  37. Joe,

    yes, global warming says this type of event can happen.

    Unfortunately the Models that purportedly embody the physics that AGW is based upon are incapable of matching the Little ice Age, Medieval Warm Period, Roman Optimum, and all other extreme temp events in the past!!!

    Now, saying something can happen in a certain way and SHOWING HOW it can happen in a certain way is the difference between gossips and scientists.

  38. Max Hugoson (19:39:17) :

    Max,

    I had learned something similar, that the population of native Indians west of the Mississippi was ~250,000. Some of the tribes, apparently, had only about 400 people. And some small tribes were wiped completely out in warfare with other tribes. The population couldn’t have been in the millions.

    I think Mike D. is just rambling some sarcasm.

  39. Mike D. (18:55:01) :

    “Human beings have been living in the Sierras for 10,000+ years. It is well-known and well-documented that human beings everywhere and in CA, too, set fires to modify the landscape for survival purposes. I venture that EVERY fire scar Swetnam et al looked is from an anthropogenic fire!!!!

    This is a human-mediated, human-caused phenomenon being investigated. It has nothing, zero, nada to do with climate. That’s just backasswards.”

    ================================================

    ‘Every scar’ would be wrong as it is proven that lightning can produce forest fires, and this is a natural recurring phenomenon.

    Also, your presumed conjecture that humans would be using fire to clear land in forests does not seem consistent with my understanding of how we used fire in the past to create farmland, our ancestors would have more likely set fire to fields.

    And if it would be your assertion that fires set in fields would spread to forests…well, then wouldn’t the forests have to be dry and susceptible to lightning induced fires for this to occur? Can you imagine the difficulty in farming land with fallen trees, and with some trunks still extending to the heavens blocking sunlight?

    “That’s just backasswards” – have to agree from my point of view.

    You’re trolling, right?

  40. davidmhoffer (19:54:41) :

    Wow. Columbus landed in 1492 and did a population survey across a few million square miles of continent? How’d he do it? Stand in the crows nest at the top of the mast of one of his ships with a spyglass and count them?

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    No, he didn’t actually get the real data. It was estimated, and homogenized, using a NASA grid model. That’s why the number is artificially high. He used a more heavily populated area to start with instead of those sparser forest and mountain areas. He just figured that it would all come out in the wash the same as if he used the real data.

  41. During the Medieval Warm Period extensive fires burned through parts of the Giant Forest at intervals of about 3 to 10 years, he said.

    http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/enso/ensofaq.html

    Historically, an El Nino usually recurs every 3-7 years, as does its (cold) La Nina counterpart.

    Seems that ENSO has been on about the same cycle for a long time then.

    That part of California would be drier during La Nina. Warmer air temperatures with ocean temperatures lagging would result in La Nina’s having a relatively larger spread between water and air temps producing a stronger effect even with weak La Nina’s. Hence more severe and frequent drought in certain regions. Colder air temps with ocean temps lagging would increase the effect of weak to moderate El Nino’s similar to recent conditions.
    Or something like that.

    peace,
    Tim

  42. Given that there were diverse cultures among Native Americans, I have no doubt that there were Millions here before the arrival of Columbus. But not necessarily
    no Europeans either. There were seafaring cultures long before. I think we have
    idea of what was here before, and I do know that fire setting to improve elk and
    deer habitat was/is still a common practice….

  43. Wren (19:50:58) :

    The data shows otherwise.

    Sorry for the eggheads that say their numbers are better than the real data.

    Next?

  44. Sorry. I keep forgetting that you folks are not historical landscape geographers, ethno-ecologists, paleobotanists, or forest historians. I mean, very few people are familiar with that stuff, and I should not expect it to be common knowledge. I apologize.

    If you are interested in the lastest findings in those fields, please visit my History of Western Landscapes site:

    http://westinstenv.org/histwl/

    Here is a good reference on historical population estimates:

    Denevan, Wm. 1976. The Native Population of the Americas in 1492. Univ. of Wisconsin Press. A compilation of historical demographic analyses by scholars including Denevan, Woodrow Borah, and William T. Sanders. Despite being over 30 years old, Native Populations of the Americas in 1492 is still considered to contain the best estimates to date of pre-Columbian populations.

    Denevan’s own analysis and synthesis of the work of Borah, Henry Dobyns, Wilbur R. Jacobs and others leads him to estimate that the population of the New World in 1492 was at least 57,000,000 people. That count exceeds the estimated population of much of contemporaneous Europe.

    See also:

    Blackburn, Thomas C. and Kat Anderson, eds. 1993. Before The Wilderness: Environmental Management by Native Californians. Malki Press – Ballena Press.

    Thomas M. Bonnicksen, M. Kat Anderson, Henry T. Lewis, Charles E. Kay, and Ruthann Knudson. 1999. Native American influences on the development of forest ecosystems. In: Szaro, R. C.; Johnson, N. C.; Sexton, W. T.; Malk, A. J., eds. Ecological stewardship: A common reference for ecosystem management. Vol. 2. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science Ltd: 439-470.

    Stewart, Omer C. Forgotten Fires — Native Americans and the Transient Wilderness. 2002. Edited and with Introductions by Henry T. Lewis and M. Kat Anderson. University of Oklahoma Press.

    Bonnicksen, Thomas M., 2000. America’s Ancient Forests–From the Ice Age to the Age of Discovery. John Wiley and Sons.

    Anderson, M. Kat. 2005. Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources. Univ. Calif. Press.

    Kay, Charles E., and Randy T. Simmons, eds. 2002. Wilderness and Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences and the Original State of Nature. University of Utah Press.

  45. I still fail to understand how tree rings can be considered “thermometers” of climate history. There are so many variables involved in the growth and survival of trees, how can we be sure their rings describe what scientists say they do? Furthermore, rudimentary research design and methodology would point out that Briffa’s 12 magic Yamal trees are not a statistically valid sample size to base the whole theory of AGW upon. This is common sense… and yet the unelected UN bureaucrats are already trying to introduce carbon taxes around the world? Will we need to rebel and overthrow governments to rid ourselves of this carbon trading fraud? Close down the UN before we end up under a totalitarian new world order.

    REPLY: In this case they aren’t being considered “thermometers” only as yearly seasonal recorders with char marks at certain years. – Anthony

  46. Amino Acids in Meteorites (19:32:36) : And if American Indians did start forest fires why did they start more of them during the Medieval Warm Period, 800 to 1300, than at any other time?

    1. Perhaps the frequency did not change, but the scarring is a function of fuel density. More fuels, more scarring. Many (most) light-burning fires left no scar. It could be that increased/decreased biomass growth was a function of something other than temperature.

    2. Perhaps the fire frequency was a function of population density, cultural practices innovations, or other human-based factors that had nothing to do with temperature, such as war, peace, displacement, entrenchment, food preference shifts, food availability changes, evolution in customs, advances in ecological knowledge, population growth, etc.

    Are “historical acres under cultivation” in Europe and the Middle East a proxy for temperature? People are not machines. We are not robots impelled by climate. We are innovative, adaptive, and have always been culturally evolving.

    And again, human beings have controlled the fire regimes wherever we have lived (except the Arctic where there is no fuel on the landscape) since we evolved in Africa. Homo erectus possessed fire. Hominid use of fire goes back 2 million years.

  47. John F. Hultquist (19:59:56) : “Picture Gallery of Trees and Tree Rings (Univ. of Tenn., Knoxville)…”

    Nifty, John!

  48. Mike D. (20:38:08) :

    “Sorry. I keep forgetting that … very few people are familiar with that stuff”

    And we’re supposed to consider you a logical person, because?

  49. Not A Carbon Cow (20:29:15):

    Human-set fires were so frequent that they altered the fuels. Infrequent lightning fires burned in culturally modified landscapes and so behaved much like anthropogenic fires, following the same fire patterns in the established anthropogenic mosaic. Human-set fires outnumbered lightning fires by many orders of magnitude. See:

    Kay, Charles E. Are Lightning Fires Unnatural? A Comparison of Aboriginal and Lightning Ignition Rates in the United States. 2007. IN R.E. Masters and K.E.M. Galley (eds.) Proceedings of the 23rd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in Grassland and Shrubland Ecosystems, pp 16-28. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL.

  50. Question: Where did the data for the “Battle of the Graphs” come from? Would love to see references to the peer reviewed, validated data.

    Interesting article…thanks!

  51. Mike D. (20:38:08) :
    Sorry. I keep forgetting that you folks are not historical landscape geographers, ethno-ecologists, paleobotanists, or forest historians. I mean, very few people are familiar with that stuff, and I should not expect it to be common knowledge. I apologize.
    >>

    You are right, I’m not familiar. I am familiar with estimates in the early 1900’s being a million or two. then by the middle of the century they were 30 or 40. Now they are up to 100. What I notice is that with each increase the decline to known numbers when decent records start is blamed on disease, mistreatment and displacement by white man. I’m not saying the conflict with Europeans influx wasn’t hard on them, or that there were no epidemics due to disease, just that the higher the number goes the more words like “genocide” and “fault” get thrown into the equation.

    Further native societies were very primitive. They were hunter/gatherer. No metal working, no wheels, no ploughs, no agriculture, no livestock. Until Cortez they didn’t even have horses. The range even a small tribe would have to hunt over to sustain themselves is large, and I just don’t buy 57 million being sustained with bows and arrows.

  52. Mike D., I checked out the link you provided and noted with interest the following entry in your list of publications:

    An Urgent Signal for the Coming Ice Age by Peter John Faraday Harris in Paleobotany and Paleoclimatology

    Aside from that, it strikes me as preposterous to suggest that all, or even most, of the fires in the sequoia groves were man-made. These are fire-dependent trees, and their evolutionary history necessarily predates human existence, especially any human presence in North America. So how did they become fire-dependent if there were no humans around to start the fires?

    The population densities of Native Americans encountered by the early colonists and explorers are totally inconsistent with the 50 million plus figure you suggest. Frankly, this strikes me as delusional, but thanks for playing.

  53. davidmhoffer (21:13:10): You are right, I’m not familiar. … Further native societies were very primitive.

    Beware of the cultural bigotry so ingrained in our modern society. Read the refs I provided. Visit the site I linked to. Study it up. I think if you examined the literature, you would come to a very different conclusion. We are an ancient species, and we’ve always been clever and capable.

  54. For what it’s worth department. My wife and I hiked in Big Basin Redwood Park in Santa Cruz, CA after reading about Climategate. My recollection is that the 7′ cut of the redwood tree that was time dated by the Rangers had a much longer period during the “Medieval Warm Period” than during recent time periods. There was no obvious evidence of fires but the size and timing of the tree rings clearly showed that the rings were larger (for what that means) during the middle ages. Someone with knowledge and expertise in this area could give feedback and analysis. If I could post a picture, I would.

  55. Mike D. (20:38:08) :

    “Sorry. I keep forgetting that you folks are not historical landscape geographers, ethno-ecologists, paleobotanists, or forest historians. I mean, very few people are familiar with that stuff, and I should not expect it to be common knowledge.”

    Thank god for that. Give me real chemistry and physics science any day.

  56. Mike D 18 55 01

    Indeed humans have lived inthe Sierras for 10000+yrs. But don’t you find it curious that they would have concentrated their efforts particularly in the middle ages? Might it be that its harder to get a decent forest fire going during cold rainy periods than when it is particularly warm and dry? We only get large numbers of forest fires in Canada during hot dry spells. Also,nearly all fire are caused by lightning storms which develop and build up during hot summer days.

  57. The Ents are moving indeed; running in fact, no one has ever seen them run faster. Nice dead tree ring entrails. Dead tree ring entrails to fight the soothsaying with other dead tree ring entrails. Sweet ironic twisted trunk of science that is! I guess it’s not just Mann hiding the decline but also ignoring the fires! That’s what Mann, et. al., get for cherry picking. Fighting Mann, et. al.’s fire with natural fire! Gotta love it when the natural counter evidence is so clear and damning. Yes, these logs would make excellent material for Beavers dams. Damn, that’s a damned pun. [:)]

  58. I remember reading an interesting article, possibly in the Smithsonian magazine but I don’t really remember. It concerned the rediscovery of the management of California oaks in the Sierra foothills by Native Americans through the use of controlled fires. Apparently the perceived quality of the trees had been deteriorating, with the trees growing closer together, staying much smaller, and producing far fewer acorns.

    It was finally recognized that it was the “protection” of the trees that was causing the problem. A large study, including of Indian oral traditions, revealed that the natives had been consciously managing the oaks for hundreds or thousands of years to maximize acorn production since that was an important food source. Interestingly, there existed a very strong concept of property rights, very similar to Western European capitalist tradition. This recognition of ownership ensured that families or clan, guaranteed by tribal law or custom to the (literal) fruits of their labors, would have the incentive to engage in such a long-term endeavor, rather than hunt and gather. The lone oak trees spaced out over grassy hillsides surrounded by fallen acorns are a legacy of that time. The dense patches of scrub oaks choking each other out are in those areas that have reverted back to their natural state.

    So yes, I believe it’s likely that humans did regularly “set fires” when there was a tangible reward for doing so. I can’t think of any reason, though, why they would periodically set fire to a redwood forest. It’s an interesting claim, but setting fires for the hell of it, on a regular basis, sounds like reaching to me.

  59. Mike D. (21:06:08) :

    Not A Carbon Cow (20:29:15):

    “Human-set fires were so frequent that they altered the fuels. Infrequent lightning fires burned in culturally modified landscapes and so behaved much like anthropogenic fires, following the same fire patterns in the established anthropogenic mosaic. Human-set fires outnumbered lightning fires by many orders of magnitude. See:

    Kay, Charles E. Are Lightning Fires Unnatural? A Comparison of Aboriginal and Lightning Ignition Rates in the United States. 2007. IN R.E. Masters and K.E.M. Galley (eds.) Proceedings of the 23rd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in Grassland and Shrubland Ecosystems, pp 16-28. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL.”

    ===============================================

    Mike,

    No-one doubts people set fires. Your assertion was that ALL of the historical fires documented in redwood tree rings were anthropogenic in origin, and that given the rest of us weren’t studied forest rangers, you would have to remind us of this fact, although you were surprised to have to do so, because you forgot we weren’t all studied forest rangers.

    Personally, I find it very hard to believe that the descendants of a population of individuals intelligent enough to spread throughout the Americas, producing the Clovis culture, producing burial mounds in Ohio, rock structured settlements on the East coast, being the contemporaries of the Anasazi, Incas, Aztecs, those who produced the Nazca lines etc., were stupid enough to attempt to farm in the forest when easily accessible low lying rich and abundant farmland lay just to the west and south.

    You hooked me again, but I’m crashing for the night. I’ve checked the batteries in my smoke alarms in case one of my neighbors decides to burn my yard tonight. (Cow, et. all BS Research vol 2 issue 34, pages 45-47 “All charcoal is man made says Mike”)

  60. DesertYote (18:14:36) :
    I would be interested in finding out what the evidence is for unusual drought conditions. Can anyone help educate me?
    The white arrows on the picture make it a bit difficult and you have to look closely.

    Note where the arrow points locate the char marks in the growth rings? Now follow those growth rings with your eyes out past the arrows and you see how close together the rings are? If you look at where the tree rings are closer together that indicates slow growth because of lack of moisture. They match perfectly with the fire marks.

    In between the arrows locating the char marks from fire, the growth rings are not as close together, meaning the tree grew faster during that time because it had more moisture.

    This is an excellent tree to read and a great post, Leif and Anthony!

  61. Robert Kral (21:18:01) said:

    Mike D., I checked out the link you provided and noted with interest the following entry in your list of publications:

    An Urgent Signal for the Coming Ice Age by Peter John Faraday Harris in Paleobotany and Paleoclimatology

    Aside from that, it strikes me as preposterous to suggest that all, or even most, of the fires in the sequoia groves were man-made. These are fire-dependent trees, and their evolutionary history necessarily predates human existence, especially any human presence in North America. So how did they become fire-dependent if there were no humans around to start the fires?

    You are obviously unaware of the power of teleconnection!

  62. davidmhoffer, the indigenous peoples of North America definitely practiced agriculture and their “livestock” were the free herds of buffalo, deer, elk and others. The US constitution is greatly influenced by the Iroquois Constitution of the Five Nations/Iroquois Book of the Great Law. The land within the borders of the US were once populated by tens of millions of native peoples.
    The invasion of Europeans upon the North and South American Continents resulted in genocide within any definition of the term.
    You invoke Cortez as some sort of savior bringing horses yet he was the first among many destroyers of a vast and rich culture. Cortez the killer…the story of a homicidal maniac.

    I think the native societies were more advanced than the likes of you davidmhoffer.

    peace,
    Tim

  63. The research on indigenous peoples in the Americas is equal to the research of climate. All of the peoples in the Americas arrived during the last glaciation and spread since then. The tribes were small in most locations as there were few major advanced civilizations such as the Incas and Aztecs. Due to the northern areas just recovering from the glaciation the tribes were more hunter gatherers. A large portion of reduction blamed on Europeans was due to natural climate change that the natives were not able to adapt to. Of course it is always easier to blame others. Take into the number of Europeans that died due to not being able to adapt to living under conditions that existed in the Americas. This paper set about to make a claim while ignoring a more complete history they concentrated on the MWP to claim alarm due to drought caused by warming.

    The only thing they showed was that the period was longer now and the climate varied just like now.

  64. DesertYote (18:14:36) :
    I would be interested in finding out what the evidence is for unusual drought conditions. Can anyone help educate me?

    If you meant more generally what the evidence for medieval drought in the Sierras is, there is lots. Many lakes in the Sierras have sunken forests dating from Medieval times, so lake levels were a lot lower then across the Sierras. In the 90s, a tree was pulled from Fallen Leaf Lake, just off the south end of Lake Tahoe. The tree, dated to have grown from 1000-1200CE was rooted 120 feet below the present water level. So we know the lake was at least this low for at least this long.

    Nearby, in the bed of the Truckee River, which now drains Lake Tahoe into the Nevada desert, there are the remains of a forest from the same period. So we know that Lake Tahoe was not high enough to drain during this period.

    Also, tree lines, both total and species-specific, were 300-500 meters higher than at present during this period, which implies summer temperatures 3-4C higher than during the 20th century (and measured temperatures did not increase at all during the 20th century).

  65. I do recall a recent article in Sciam about agriculture in the Amazon basin prior to 1492, and the conclusion was that the number people living in the Amazon basin was much larger than previously estimated.

    Then there are the Anasazi, their cultural period runs from about 100 until 1600. Their culture was at its finest during 750 until 1300, after 1300 the culture declined until they disappeared around 1600. The height of the culture during the 750-1300 is clearly above the hunter/gatherer level.

    And then there is the Mississippian culture from around 800 until 1500, a culture based upon intensive maize agriculture, advanced ceramics, trade networks, the did not have stone architecture, iron and bronze. But on a technical level they where not that far behind compared to the Europeans in that same period.

    In the same time the period from 800 until 1300-1400 is know in Europe as the age of the cathedrals, the colonies on Greenland and such. It was a time when Europe started to stand up after the Dark Ages wich came after the fall of the Roman Empire that once covered a large part of Europe, Africa and the middle east. Why is that around 1350 the average lifespan of a European was only 17 years while a century before that it was still 39 years?

    And then you can wonder why all those cultures went into decline around 1300-1500? And why the Europeans did not although the losses from famine and the black death where huge, and then i did not even mention that some pretty large scale conflicts where being fought amongst Europeans in that time-period.

  66. The dryness of this period of the MWP in Cali suggests a strong and persistent “La Nina” phase and/or a prolonged negative PDO.

    Cooler Pacific waters near the Cali shore mean less upward motion which means subsidence and very dry air.

    But, as Rob has pointed out in another thread, the Giant Sequoias have evolved an ability to adapt to frequent fires [not to be confused with frequent fliers], and not only have they adapted to the fires….they learn how to thrive with it.

    Lesson to self, and to species: We need to learn how to ADAPT to the changes in climate that come our way…no matter what they may be.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  67. California (and the Sierras) are home to lightning storms, of the dry kind. This is to be found in old records, and is not anything new.
    Dry lighting storms can cover large areas of the state. There’s no rain involved, a key requirement for the setup. Strikes can last 2-3 seconds, hitting white firs that normally don’t burn well, boil the pitch in the tree, which then explodes sending flaming goo all over the place.

  68. savethesharks (23:06:16) :

    Adaptation is the key to survival. AGW will remove that and the experiments they have planned for climate control means that the climate will be pegged one way or the other. They want to gamble with our very existence.

  69. Mike D. has no idea what he is talking about. First of all the Giant Sequoias, as opposed to the coastal redwoods, grow at high altitudes. The General Sherman tree is at 6800′. While doubtless the Indians came to the area seasonally, they are snowed in about 5 months of the year. So there is no agriculture there or large herds of game to give the Indians a reason to start fires. The plains Indians regularly started fires both to clear land and to drive the buffalo herds. There was no advantage to starting fires in the high Sierras, and considerable danger.

  70. I would just like to say – if you ever get the chance to visit a Sequoia grove, take it with both hands. These magnificent trees are in a truly beautiful setting, and inspire slack jawed amazement in even the most jaded ‘seen it all’ person. It is simply a majestic place and a wonderful feeling to stand in a quiet forest absolutely dwarfed by these giants.

    Oh, and now that they have finished with the slabs, can I have one? Would make a killer table all polished up.

  71. I wonder if there’s a co relationship with the Pacific Decadel Oscillation with the fires.

    Wrt human or natural occurrence with the fires.. it doesn’t matter because regardless, a fire that can mark a tree with charcoal can only occur when the conditions are right, ie, dry and warm with some wind to carry it.

    JC

  72. There are crops that flourish under redwood trees: different kinds of berries, miner’s lettuce, sourgrass, various edible bulbs. I have read that when Europeans showed up here one could drive a wagon in any direction through the forests. They were open with little brush on the floor. Takes care of the poison oak!

  73. heresy101 (21:26:22) :
    For what it’s worth department. My wife and I hiked in Big Basin Redwood Park in Santa Cruz, CA after reading about Climategate. My recollection is that the 7′ cut of the redwood tree that was time dated by the Rangers had a much longer period during the “Medieval Warm Period” than during recent time periods. [....]

    Don’t read too much into that. The coastal redwood species are highly dependent upon the moisture from the coastal fog for their growth patterns. The high altitude redwoods like fog as well, but their environment in the high mountains resulted in a different type of growth response than the coastal redwoods.

  74. Mike D — Are “historical acres under cultivation” in Europe and the Middle East a proxy for temperature? People are not machines. We are not robots impelled by climate. We are innovative, adaptive, and have always been culturally evolving.

    Famine years in Europe have been crosslinked to climate conditions, yes. There are plenty of historical accounts and archaeology.

    davidmhoffer — The range even a small tribe would have to hunt over to sustain themselves is large, and I just don’t buy 57 million being sustained with bows and arrows.

    Bingo. Recently I’d read a book by historian David Starkey re Henry VIII and much of the information was radically different than other sources. Starkey explains this as being the result of much of the other sources being derived from Victorian era scholarship, which imparted its own spin, rather than a deep dive into the original known records and creating from scratch. One wonders about the actual level of scholarship claimed.

    Meanwhile there are plenty of papers referenced at archaeological sites from scholars looking at e.g. neanderthal populations in Europe to 30,000 BCE and concluding anywhere from 10k to 100k max individuals could be sustained reliably. That was a forested continent.

    Lastly, I don’t care what sort of Mann-o-matic statistical gyrations these twits want to beat the bad bad Euro-folk with, but surely 57 million souls in 1492 alone ought to have left a bit more of a mark; one could simply ask what became of the the millions of graves and other massive evidence that would support such a preposterous assertion. i.e. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, after all.

    Thus I ask for, nay, I DEMAND to see the actual physical proof; surely 57 million hunter gatherers ought to have left behind more arrowpoints etc than could be counted, etc. etc. etc.

  75. And if American Indians did start forest fires why did they start more of them during the Medieval Warm Period, 800 to 1300, than at any other time?

    Diabolical Mimicry

  76. For those of you who think there was only a few hunter/gatherer tribes in North America in 1492, I strongly recommend a visit to Cahokia the next time you are in the St Louis area. Or to Chaco Canyon when in New Mexico.

    And as for Central/south America, try el Mirador in Guatemala. The largest pyramid there is marginally larger than the Cheops pyramid.

  77. Thanks Leif and Anthony for a thought provoking post.

    The Medieval Climate Optimum (much more descriptive of the benefits of a few degrees extra warmth than MWP), is a very inconvenient truth for the IPCC CAGW cabal. The lengths they have gone to in order to hide this piece of historic climate data is astonishing, but as always, the truth will out.

  78. Max Hugoson (19:39:17) :

    I had an anthropology professor, 40 years ago…. He then went on TO prove it, by studying the “remains” of the ancient groups, and reviewing either their “hunter gatherer” life style or their LIMITED agriculture.[....]

    Pity you can’t go back and get your money back from that professor. You were robbed!

    The New World area is about 42,549,000 square kilometers. Some anthropologists estimate the pre-civilization paleolithic cultures had a population density of at least around some 0.1 persons per square kilometer. Such a population density would result in a population of at least some 4 million people in the New World living in pre-civilization hunter-gatherer groups. The population density then increases to at least 1 person per square kilometer as the hunter-gatherer cultures become more sophisticated and begin to develop agriculture and civilizations. The Mayan people are reported to have reached a population density of 1,295 to 1,813 people per square kilometer in the rural areas of the Mayan empire and 4,662 to 6,734 people per square kilometer in the Mayan cities.

    The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert achieved population densities in the desert environment of 1 to 1.5 people per square kilometer. The Aborigines of Australia reached about 0.1 persons per square kilometer. The Amerindian population density in the Amazon rain forest is about 1.5 to 2.5 people per square kilometer. The population of Papua-New Guinea ranges from 1 to 20 people per square kilometer from the lowlands to the highlands. To find any geography with a pre-industrial culture less than 0.1 people per square kilometer, you have to go to the Arctic or Antarctica, but even the High Arctic musters a native population density of 0.015 people per square kilometer.

    In other words, any of the population densities for pre-industrial cultures known to exist in the Old World’s past and present and New World’s present imply minimum pre-Columbian New World populations numbering not less than about 4 million and probably numbering some multiple of 42 million square kilometers times 1 to many people per square kilometer.

  79. I’ve got a giant Sequoia in my back garden, which was planted about 150 years ago. To get the small and iron-hard cones to open requires them to be charred in a bonfire for quite a time, and only then will the teeny-tiny seeds come out. They look like tiny flakes of rolled oats, and obviously have little or no value to squirrels who leave them well alone.

    The soil is typical lowland heath; very very poor and acid, and guaranteed useless for any kind of agriculture. Out local common is a renowned example, having remained unexploited by agriculture since the last ice-age. But the Sequoia Giganteum ( aka Wellingtonia) really likes these conditions, and we have some great examples within a mile or so (one in a grove nearby was until fairly frequently in the Guiness book of records as the tallest tree in Britain)

    The trunk bark of these trees oddly enough is very spongy and soft and is about five to ten times thicker that the Scots Pine bark. I guess it is very very hard to set fire to the trunk as this bark would act as as an intumescent protective layer. So I reckon the only way the trunk would get damaged is via a lightning strike or quite a big fire requiring a lot of dry undergrowth.

    The tree produces a lot of biomass compared to an equivalent oak, and the whole of last year’s ‘needles’ which are quite heavy drop down evey year in one go over a coupe of weeks. If left, they form a mat which is inimical to other growth; and In a dry climate I could see that this store would provide the fuel for the occasional necessary reproductive fire.

    The tree branches are curved and pendulous and tend to drop quite frequently when they are relatively very thin compared to the trunk thickness, and is commercially useless . The wood is very dry and shatters easily, and burns very badly and dangerously as it spits red hot embers like rifle-fire and is also useless as a fuel.

    And from the privilege of living with and observing the habits of a Sequoiadendron Giganteum, I reckon that this species has zero practical value to man and beast; as these great defences probaly explain their longevity in their natural habitat.

    And so I would give credence to the record of regular dry lightning fires found in the treering record.

  80. As the Sovjet rewroted hitstory and even maps.
    GISS is doing the same thing but with temperatures to fit thier political agenda.
    So whats now needed to debunk the official lies of temperture history?
    A new article has to be written by all honest experts in thier expertis of different
    parts of the temperature history. We allready debunked the current records piece by piece.But there has to be an real effort to put it all together and even estimate the levels of uncertainy involved.They lied a hole world straight up in the face.The temperture records is the “book of revelation” to the AGW fraudster ideololgy.There is only lack of coordination to challenge the fraud of the establishment. The lack of serious peer review is the reason this has eveloped.

    Thanks to everyone who is contributing with FACTS!

  81. solrey (22:30:53) :
    The invasion of Europeans upon the North and South American Continents resulted in genocide within any definition of the term.
    [....]
    peace,
    Tim

    Now that is an untrue statement. The word, “genocide”, comes from “gens”, meaning the family or clan, and “cide”, meaning to kill. The dictionaries define the word to mean a deliberate attempt to kill an entire family of people on the basis of race, ethnicity, or comparable human affiliation. To “invade” means to enter with the purpose of plundering and conquering.

    The European colonizations were in part invasions for the purpose of plundering and conquering, but they were also in part non-invading colonizations by invitation of the native inhabitants. These invitations to colonize were offered to bolster defenses against hostile native conquerors intent upon committing true genocide. Ultimately, the Euro-American colonists succeeded in stopping the genocides being committed by the Amerindian cultures against each other and also prevented a genocide of Amerindians by Euro-Americans. The result has been the deliberate preservation and restoration of the Amerindian populations to pre-Columbian levels, and not the deliberate extinction of those Amerindian populations indicative of a genocide.

  82. Why does the ‘battle of the graphs’ show that old and outdated H.H. Lamb temperature graph for Europe, whereas the topic is on the incidence of bush fires in the west of the US (thus not even about temperature at all)?

    Sorry, I know questions like this are too hard to be left uncensored.

  83. This sounds like it was a dangerous, expensive, and difficult operation:

    —————————–
    It turned out to be a gargantuan undertaking that required many people and many field seasons.

    “We were sampling with the largest chain saws we could find – a chain-saw bar of seven feet,”

    “We were hauling these slabs of wood two meters on a side as far as two kilometers to the road. ”

    “the emergency rescue equipment for people”

    —————————–

    Conpared to:

    “To study tree rings, researchers generally take a pencil-sized core from a tree.”

    Kind of makes Mann’s response to Steve McIntyre look a little feeble:

    “Most reconstructions only extend through about 1980 because the vast majority of tree-ring, coral, and ice core records currently available in the public domain do not extend into the most recent decades. While paleoclimatologists are attempting to update many important proxy records to the present, this is a costly, and labor-intensive activity, often requiring expensive field campaigns that involve traveling with heavy equipment to difficult-to-reach locations (such as high-elevation or remote polar sites). For historical reasons, many of the important records were obtained in the 1970s and 1980s and have yet to be updated.”

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/02/20/bring-the-proxies-up-to-date/

  84. “Fires, by themselves are not an indication of drought. They could indicate an unusual amount of lightning”

    Except that, as an expert in lightning, I can tell you that lightning intensity and frequency is dependent on climate and altitude. The higher up you are the more lightning you get and the warmer the climate you get the more lightning. Since we can assume there has been no great increase in altitude in California over 3000 years, we can say that any increase in lightning frequency was due to lightning.

    However, it is estimated that about 90% of forest fires in the modern world are man-made. It should be pointed out that many of these man-made forest fires are, however, very much caused by modern man and would not have been the cause in ancient times. Nevertheless, we can perhaps assume that most of the forest fires in California over the last 3000 years were indeed anthropogenic. The question is why did the evidence of such anthropogenic fires rise during the medievel period? Why was that rise coincident with the MWP in Europe?

    If you assume that the forest fires were linked to temperary climate change then there are two possibilities that become obvious. One is that the forest fires were a regular occurence but became more extensive due to the forest floor being tinder dry. The second is that the warmer climate caused the food supply to diminish resulting in more numerous failed attempts to deliberately clear the Sequoias to permit more farming.

    I would submit that whilst this research cannot be considered proof that the MWP happened in the US as well as Europe, the sychronicity of these events with the MWP and the knowledge that these events could easily have been influenced by climate change in the US during the MWP strongly supports the theory that the MWP was a global phenomena.

  85. “Why does the ‘battle of the graphs’ show that old and outdated H.H. Lamb temperature graph for Europe, whereas the topic is on the incidence of bush fires in the west of the US ”

    Because the team-AGW claim that the MWP, if it happened at all, was limited to Europe, whilst this new research suggests that it occured in the US as well. It claims this on the basis that these “bush fires” are more frequent when you have warm dry weather (whatever the cause of the fire in the first place). Cold wet forests don’t catch fire very often, but warm dry forests do.

  86. Mike D,

    Thanks for your input. I expect your research runs into all sorts of political guff. I myself find people’s misconceptions about New England’s population “before the Pilgrims” a bit tiresome at times.

    My family name has been kicking about New England for roughly 380 years, absorbing links to three separate families which arrived on the Mayflower 390 years ago, plus some Abernaki blood from Maine and French Huguenot blood from Quebec, which goes back over 400 years. I can’t tell you how irritating it is to get lectured by some whippersnapper who joined Audubon a couple of months ago, and who feels compelled to inform me what monsters all my ancestors were.

    New England was densely settled by “natives” in the south. Dutch captains reported summer campfires “as thick as stars,” as they sailed along the Connecticut coast north of New Amsterdam. Estimates of the population generally range around 50,000 for the southern agricultural area, but I’ve seen higher guesses. Then a pandemic passed through between 1610 and 1620, and as many as 95% of the people died. It must have been a total nightmare. When Squanto returned from England, his home village was simply gone. He headed south, but then heard white people were settling into the place where his home village was, and headed back north and met the Pilgrims. (There is no way the Pilgrims and Puritans could have moved into New England in such huge numbers, if the land hadn’t been pre-cleared by various Algonquin clans, and then cleared of Algonquin by a horrible plague.)

    I have an Audubon booklet which describes New England as a pristine wilderness inhabited by a smattering of ecologically enlightened natives, and then along came my ancestors to screw everything up. It’s not even close to the truth, but it serves a certain Agenda.

    Even though the pandemic wiped out most of the history and lore of New England, interesting tales were passed along to my ancestors which describe all sorts of war-mongers and peace-makers. (For example, the “king” of the Massachusetts tribe went to meet a delegation of Micmacs, but the Micmacs were fed up with the fellow, and brought along a stick they had purchased from the French. They pointed the stick at the “king,” fire came out of the stick, and the king dropped dead.)

    At times I get the feeling modern academics don’t even want to know about New England’s rich past. My son came home from school a few years back and told me New England’s horrible pandemic was caused by “whites” who intentionally sold blankets infected with smallpox to natives. Thus the teacher plucked an ugly war-time act from Ohio in the mid 1700’s and inserted it into history 150 years earlier. Why? I suppose it served some sort of “Agenda.”

    In the same way, this entire Global Warming falsification-of-science seems to serve an “Agenda.” It is especially irksome, because the people involved put on airs, and pretend they are more scientific than anyone else.

    I think there is something about having an “Agenda” which is destructive to science, truth and honesty. At some point in New England’s history my ancestors decided to drop the English, French and Abernaki Agendas, and decided marrying and making babies was more fun than feuding, and 200 years of war gave way to 200 years of peace.

    Now I fear that peace may be ending, due to certain Agendas. I’ve met birdwatchers with binoculars who’d murder for a mockingbird.

  87. So the two graphs shown have nothing much to do with this data – they are about global and European temperatures respectively – and the word “anomaly” is mis-spelled and the graphs carry no formal provenance. That doesn’t help your case.

    If the fires were man-made then the climate is almost irrelevant – other than the ground was probably not soaking wet at the time of the fires. Not sure how this gives evidence for a warm period in NA, much though I would like to believe in one.

    If the fires were man-made then it would be interesting to know why people were clearing the brush under the trees – it is plain that the trees themselves were not the target, as they survived – although they suffered collateral damage.

  88. “The invasion of Europeans upon the North and South American Continents resulted in genocide”

    No it didn’t. Most of the natives were killed accidentally by the introduction of smallpox. Conversely, contact with natives of the Americas caused new STDs to transfer to Europe causing widespread and death, particularly syphilis.

  89. G.L. Alston (23:54:32) :
    [....]
    Meanwhile there are plenty of papers referenced at archaeological sites from scholars looking at e.g. neanderthal populations in Europe to 30,000 BCE and concluding anywhere from 10k to 100k max individuals could be sustained reliably. That was a forested continent.

    No, tht was a mostly glaciated continent with marginal areas in forest. Today’s Europe has some 10,180,000 square kilometers of territory. At the time of the neanderthals this area was extremely reduced to less than half its presently available area. So , assuming 40% of today’s area and the same population density of 0.015 people per square kilometer as the 19th-20th Century Eskimos, the possible equivalent neanderthal population works out to 60,180 neanderthals. That number falls neatly between the 10,000 to 100,000 neanderthals the author suggested.

    Lastly, I don’t care what sort of Mann-o-matic statistical gyrations these twits want to beat the bad bad Euro-folk with, but surely 57 million souls in 1492 alone ought to have left a bit more of a mark; one could simply ask what became of the the millions of graves and other massive evidence that would support such a preposterous assertion. i.e. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, after all.

    First of all, you’ve got the date wrong. You are falling for the old fallacy that the Amerindian population peaked at the moment of Columbian contact with the New World in 1492. Such is not the case. The Mayan empire was among the most populous of the Amerindian civilizations and the entire rest of the world in its time period. Mayan population densities are reported to have reached 1,295 to 1,813 people per square kilometer in the countryside and 4,662 to 6,734 people per square mile in the cities. MesoAmerica is littered with their ruined cities, rainfall collection basins, and canals. However, this great civilization and its population suddenly crumbled and its population reduced some 90% to 95% by 950AD, not 1492AD.

    A host of likely factors have been suggested as the causes of the Mayan collapse, and diseases endemic to the New World such as hemorrhagic fever are among them. Suffice it to observe that the Old World Amerindian populations were subject to catastrophic collapses due to disease, famine, natural disasters, political upheaval, warfare, and more in the same way as the Old World cultures. The homogenity of the genetic makeup of the New World populatons, however, made those populatons at greater risk of diseases coming from the Old World and the New World. Ultimately, it proved to be an inevitable catastrophe. It was only a question of when and how and not if it would occur, because contact between the disease pools of the Old World and New World would have to occur in one direction or the other sooner or not so much later.

    Secondly, not all of the Amerindian cultues practiced burials. Many of the cultures exposed the dead or cremated the dead. In some circumstances, slaves and other captives were ritually slaughtered and cannibalized. In those cases, you’ll have no reason to discover burials. In the other cases, there is a rich history of burials. The great Mississipian culture of North America left behind a vast landscape of burials in North America, many others have been ignored as farmers plowed the grave sties under their farm fields, and more remain to be discovered. See the maps and illustrations of the Mississipian burial mounds:

    Thus I ask for, nay, I DEMAND to see the actual physical proof; surely 57 million hunter gatherers ought to have left behind more arrowpoints etc than could be counted, etc. etc. etc.

    Hundreds of points are discovered in Illinois alone every year. You also need to note these people were not just hnter-gatherer cultures. They built cities as large as and larger than many European cities in the same age. They accomplished these projects without the major beasts of burden available in the Old World. Their ability to procreate was also hampered by comparison to the Old World, where mothers finished nursing their babies earlier by feeding them from substitute milk sources such as cows and cow milk. The Amerindian mothers lacking such resources did not bear children as often while breast-feeding their children for many more months. Despite such handicaps, they worked metals such as copper, manufactured pottery and jewelry, navigated the rivers in trading networks, and maanged their forests by regularly burning off the understory shrubbery. To see this in person, visit the Cahokia Mounds, the Mesoamerican cities, and the cities of the Incas. The physical evidence of these millions of people are as massive as the stoneworks of their cities and the massive artistry of their mounds and moats. Then remember the New World has more than 42 million square kilometers of territory, and even at the bragain basement population density rates, the Old World would still have had tens of millions of people whenever those populations were not already reduced some 90% and more by catastrophes such as the New World and Old World diseases.

  90. Mike D:

    “Denevan’s own analysis and synthesis of the work of Borah, Henry Dobyns, Wilbur R. Jacobs and others leads him to estimate that the population of the New World in 1492 was at least 57,000,000 people. That count exceeds the estimated population of much of contemporaneous Europe.”

    Which is of course why they all relocated to tiny reservations instead of ejecting the newcomers who kept making demands. Throw enough bows and hatchets at a problem and the muskets and rifles aren’t going to matter (ask Custer.) If the new world population was higher than europe, then it totally dwarfed the european immigrant population.

    I’m more inclined to say that this guy’s analysis and estimate is wrong. That’s the problem with models… you can get them to say anything you want to by adding some unjustified assumptions… things like “disease killed off 80% of the native population” to account for the dissappearances. (note: just an example of an assumption, not actually qupting their article.)

  91. Mike D.: “Come on folks. Leif, tell ‘em. You can’t take an anthropogenically caused phenomenon and detect micro climate change in it. That’s goofy. I’m not saying there was no MWP. All I’m saying is fire scars in a human-mediated cultural landscape are not climate proxies!!!!!!!!!”

    And you don’t also discount trees in the rest of the world where humans have been chopping them down, pasture-ising them and generally changing the environment in which the trees grow during the same period?

    I remember my history teacher telling me that the Romans in Britain cut down 80% of all the woodland. That’s long before modern methods, but clearly by the end of the Roman period a lot of previously wooded areas were being cultivated.

    In Scotland, the forests have been removed and sheep have dramatically changed the environment, creating open spaces where none existed before. Reindeer herding in the Siberian tundra, will also tend to affect the forest, so that e.g. younger saplings are killed allowing mature trees to grow, whereas when grazers are not protected by humans, the balance in the ecology is different as the herds are graze only where they are safer from attack.

  92. D. Patterson:

    “The New World area is about 42,549,000 square kilometers. Some anthropologists estimate the pre-civilization paleolithic cultures had a population density of at least around some 0.1 persons per square kilometer. Such a population density would result in a population of at least some 4 million people in the New World living in pre-civilization hunter-gatherer groups. ”

    Faulty logic there… just because a culture has a given population density in an area that they exist (which, as you say, is esitmated anyway), doesn’t mean that they existed everywhere that it was possible to exist so that you can extrapolate to total population.

    As I understand it, the bulk of the population was nomadic, which meant that they shifted sites. If every location in North America was claimed by a tribe, there’d be nowhere to go to find new game, etc. I doubt the .1 person/km estimate was based on land use over many years, but rather land in use at any given time.

  93. G.L. Alston (23:54:32) :
    [....]
    Meanwhile there are plenty of papers referenced at archaeological sites from scholars looking at e.g. neanderthal populations in Europe to 30,000 BCE and concluding anywhere from 10k to 100k max individuals could be sustained reliably. That was a forested continent.

    North America was burned for about 9,000 years, from about 8,000 years ago when agriculture began. In some areas the result was grassy plains, but east of the Mississippi the result was the savanna which resembles modern park land (now maintained with mowers) but the trees used to be much bigger. What Europe was like B.C. is less apparent; the modern Appalachian forest shows what a thick tangle can result when the lesser growth is allowed to run amok for a hundred years.

    New research finds that prescribed burns release 18 to 25% less carbon than wildfires. Although it is not apparent just how much of this study depends upon simulation rather than measurement.

  94. A thought provoking article, but I share other concerns about the suitability of the infographics at the start – a bit more context or better examples would be useful.

    I know I’d fancy spending some time taking those samples.

  95. Jimbo (17:56:52) : “I am all too aware that some plant species do better after they have been subjected to fire and some species are dependent on fire occuring at some time in their life cycles.”

    Here in North Carolina, there are a lot of pine trees. Tall skinny southern yellow pine trees. The kind that look a hurricane can easily blow down. There are so many pine trees that we have many towns named after them. Southern Pines, Pinehurst, Whispering Pines, Pine Knoll Shores, Pine Level, Pine Bluff, Pinetops, and Pineville are examples. These particular pine trees need fires for the seeds to germinate. To help grow new trees, controlled burns are sometimes started. Some forests need fires, it is part of their history. The only reason why fires and droughts are used to scare people is because people don’t like disasters and are ignorant. Many years ago when I was at Yellowstone park, it had just had a really big fire. The park service said it was needed and good. This was before the global warming scare was at the level it is now.

  96. So, is Michael Mann of Penn State to climatology same as Jan Hendrik Schön to physics?

  97. Perhaps my annoyance plus enjoyment of all the information in this post-and-comments begins with Anthony’s lead-in: “Here is just one more indication that despite what some would like you to believe, the MWP was not a regional ‘non event’.” Are you goading us or Michael Mann?

    From there the tug-of-war begins: 1. fires were human-caused — no they could not have been; 2. humans (homo sapiens sapiens) managed their evironment from the beginning — no they were too “primitive”; 4. Human populations prior to the amazing European-types (and perhaps Chinese-Egyptian can be included here) were limited hunter-gatherers — no, they were quite ingenious and built remarkable civilizations. . European genocide decimated native populations — take another look at the meaning of genocide and see that it mostly does not apply here.

    There is much more of this push-pull. I guess we are educating each other, but in a frustrating variety of fields. My thoughts:

    1. The seeds of Giant Sequoias need fire to germinate. The trees are almost impervious to fires. Since they want to have little ones, fire must be important o their evolutionary history.

    2. Does it matter whether humans or lightning started those fires? Seems to me it must be both.

    3. Always, everywhere, in the research I read, humans have used fire to manage their environment. They (we) are no dummies. Visit the beautiful Oregan Gardens in Salem and see the beautiful oak trees that were able to grow when Native Americans managed (for their purposes) the areas and then see the useless scraggly mess when European types came in and had different uses for the land. (Also see Dan C 21:47:37)

    4. Warmth — El Ninos — often mean great precipitation for California and fantastic growth of all kinds of delicious (to a fire) “tinder”; cold — La Ninas — tend to bring drought and hungry fires. And “we” have had something like a thousand-year drought before.

    Shouldn’t we be paying more attention to these realities than giving any more screen time to the AGW fools — other than to bring about their defeat. Return my tax dollars! And let’s build some mighty desalination plants. One is set to begin construction in San Diego — 150 million gallons/day. Is this enough for very many people? Would it help in a drought of the entire Southwest. Remember the Anasazi. Given the results from research, I very much do not want to live during the downsizing or steep decline of a society/civilization.

  98. 1. I never said Cortez was some kind of saviour. I said that’s when horses showed up in NA. Cortez’ invasion was brutal but large numbers of horses escaped into the wild and were absequently domesticated by the native population.
    2. 1492 was right at the end of a nasty cold period that was almost 100 years long already (see graph above) and was followed by the truly severe LIA. This would have had major implications regarding food source for managed crops and game alike.
    3. Examples of pockets of people having agricultural practices can’t be extrapolated across the whole of two continents. They were not wide spread.
    4. The Mayans no doubt had a much higher population density but their civilization collapsed and vanished hundreds of years before Columbus. Further, consider the numbers. They supposedly reached RURAL population densities as high as 1700 per square mile. Really. Let’s think about that. Let’s say they had big families and lived 10 to a household. That’s 170 houses per square mile. That’s 3.8 acres per household. The house, foot paths, roads all have to take some space, let’s call it 3.5 acres per household to generate enough produce to feed themselves (all 10 of them), plus have enough left over to sell to feed the nearby city supposedly at 10 or 20 times the population density. There are certain areas of the new world that could have in theory supported such massive agricultural output, but they were tiny in comparison to the area as a whole.
    5. Much of central N America is plains. The main food source there was buffalo which have HUGE grazing ranges and (think about this) the plains had didly squat for vegetables, leafy greens etc. The tribes that lived there not only had to have hunting ranges that were gigantic, they ALSO had to wander off to other areas for non meat food sources in their diet.
    6. In much of North America there are natural camp grounds which were used either as stopping points on the long trek between summer and winter locations, or as giant meeting spots where the local tribes would convene councils days long to discuss trade, borders and so on. These areas frequently could accomodate only a few thousand people whose territory was gigantic by comparison.
    7. If those who want to propose a native population of 50 million or more want to make their case, I am willing to listen. What happened to the natives of North America due to the influx of Europeans was a terrible thing. But when I read a history of what the population might have been, I stop reading when I see the words “genocide”, “holocaust” and so on. These are terms that denote deliberate and systematic attempts to wipe out another people. They are incendiary by nature, yet the articles supporting large native populations at time of Columbus are ladened with them which ascribes to them a political purpose.

  99. Robert (22:44:44) :

    ……In the same time the period from 800 until 1300-1400 is know in Europe as the age of the cathedrals, the colonies on Greenland and such. It was a time when Europe started to stand up after the Dark Ages wich came after the fall of the Roman Empire that once covered a large part of Europe, Africa and the middle east. Why is that around 1350 the average lifespan of a European was only 17 years while a century before that it was still 39 years?

    ——————-

    Simple answer: 1350 was the year the Black Death struck Europe, its effects compounded by food shortages due to the sudden decline in temperatures that ended the Medieval Warm Period in Europe.

  100. Why would natives set fires in a mature forest?
    For food. If you’re ever lucky enough to be in a really sizable fully mature forest, of redwood or Douglas fir or whatever in the Pacific northwest, check the ground. It’s all dead needles. In season there are mushrooms. That’s about it. No shrubs, no flowers, no grasses, no nothing to attract game. Dense mature forests are surprisingly sterile. Not enough light gets through the forest top to support lower growth.
    So you set a fire to burn off the top cover. The trees can handle it; they’ll be back at full greenery in only a few years.
    But in the meantime, the cycle starts with berries and grasses, mostly delivered by air mail (birds). Then comes the game. Happy times for aboriginals.
    Still, lightening is thought to have caused most forest fires. Friction is rare, but it happens: two dry branches rubbing together as their respective trees move in a stiff wind. I fought just such a fire at Franklin River on Vancouver Island. It may have been a Boy Scout Special, but it was just as tough as any other forest fire.

  101. We, humans, have the tendency of worrying about everything instead of observing our closest reality.
    We are living already in a solar minimum with all the interesting issues it involves. Just look at this:
    BTW it didn´t happend in the medieval optimum or in the Maunder Minimum, it´s happening now in the “Jose Minimum” :
    Chilean Earthquake Moved Entire City 10 Feet West, Shifted Other Parts of South America

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100308132043.htm

    This is against the expected “subduction” direction predicted by “models” of the Nazca plate under SA

  102. davidmhoffer (21:13:10) :
    . . . native societies were very primitive. They were hunter/gatherer. No metal working, no wheels, no ploughs, no agriculture, no livestock. Until Cortez they didn’t even have horses. The range even a small tribe would have to hunt over to sustain themselves is large, and I just don’t buy 57 million being sustained with bows and arrows.

    Caleb (03:19:17) and D. Patterson (03:47:28) have effectively countered Mr. Hoffer’s generalizations. I would just like to recommend a terrific book on the subject:

    Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Knopf, 2005 ISBN 1-4000-3205-9).

    Mr. Mann (no relation to Michael, I assume!) presents some of the latest research into the nature of the American Indian societies (both North, South, and Central) immediately before the onslaught of the Europeans. He argues convincingly that their numbers were far higher than previously thought; that, contrary to the Rousseauian picture of the isolated ‘noble savage’ roaming the virgin forests with bow and arrow, the Indians practiced a great deal of intensive land and forest management, both in the temperate forests of North America, and in the tropical ones of Central America and Amazonia; and that, the genetic homogeneity of the Indians made them almost universally vulnerable to European diseases, particularly those that originated with the livestock that the Europeans brought with them (and to which the Europeans had relative immunity). Mann retells the story of Cortez’s visit to the vast native towns along the Mississippi, accompanied by hundreds of pigs, and a subsequent survey a few years later, which discovered the towns abandoned and the population all dead.

    Not to mention, of course, that Cortez encountered not a few bands of hunter-gatherers, but huge urban complexes surrounded by cultivated fields.

    Mike D: it might be helpful if you could explain a little more what the California Indians were trying to accomplish by firing the redwood forests. And what about the periods before and after the MWP?

    /Mr Lynn

  103. Mike D. (20:38:08) :

    Thanks for the links. What readers here might not pick up on is that the arguments in these articles cut in various directions. While Europeans through the introduction of smallpox and other plagues may more convincingly be accused of genocide if the populations of the Americas were large, the practices of the native peoples can also be demonstrated to have NOT been “in harmony with the environment” as understood by sentimental environmentalists. When the first settlers arrived in Virginia, they found (according to their own descriptions) large areas of park-like landscape (not dense forests) almost devoid of human populations. This made it extraordinarily easy for them to farm this land. The land had been cleared by the Native Americans, through burning to create agricultural land. It is argued by historical geographers and ethno-ecologists that this landscape can only be accounted for by human activity: the lack of people was due to the plagues unwittingly unleashed on the Native American population following the arrival of the Europeans, which it is speculated killed 90% of the native population. Contrary to several comments seen here, some agriculture was indeed practiced by Native Americans.

    However, I also have to agree with several comments here that it is unlikely that the local tribes would have attempted to fire the huge ancient sequoia groves: the fire scars probably do document natural fire occurrences.

  104. @Mike D

    ‘All I’m saying is fire scars in a human-mediated cultural landscape are not climate proxies!!!!!!!!!’

    Oh-oh-wow. You’re actually mostly saying a lot, but proving naught.

    Guess working isn’t proof.

    If you know anything about native americans from the southern tip Argentina to the northern tip of Canada, (both which are farther in either direction then Chile and Alaska,) there’s two things that are striking very few city civilization like ancient Egypt or ancient India, and very few farmers up until the white men descended upon their poor ar—.

    They most often didn’t go around clearing forests the way that are done today in some countries, that would’ve been suicide. Nor did they run around setting fire to trees for the fun of it, and certainly not just in one, now, national park.

    I’m thinking, that if the north american natives had a use for ginormous trees on any scale of worth, that they brought down with the help of fire, it would probably have showed up on the archeological radar by now.

    Although I wont concede to any 50 million, that would’ve constituted about 1 person per square kilometer. And a lot of the folks in present day USA were nomadic. But I’d say that around MWP that there were far more than one million from north to south, the numbers wouldn’t add up otherwise. 50 million people would actually leave a pretty little dent in nature, from settlements to the amount of game available.

  105. Some people have commented on it already – my concerns are associated with the lower “Historical” graph above.

    There is just NO way the temperature of medieval Europe was 7C warmer than the 20th century. Believe me, my Irish ancestors would have been drinking wine to beat the band, rather than sticking to raw whiskey, if they could have grown grapes. There were enough monastic orders in Ireland to introduce grapes if they could. Believe it or not, wine is made in Ireland and Britain today, but only in certain microclimates along the southern coasts.

    I agree there was a MWP, and I would not be surprised if it extended throughout the northern hemisphere, and maybe beyond. No one really disputes the MWP basics and that its ending was accompanied by population decline like the Norse Greenland colony, but also the decline of the English colony in Ireland, wars and famines across Europe.

    While I applaud this paper, and would like to learn more, this is just not enough to “disprove” contemporary global warming. A graph of dubious value is not nearly sufficient. You need to turn your tree-ring data into proxy temperature measurements and calibrate with measurements from other sources. Given the interest in climatology, grant money should be available for such an effort.

  106. OT:The Chilean earthquake was forecasted by:
    J.C. Ruegga,∗, A. Rudloff b, C. Vignyb, R. Madariagab, J.B. de Chabaliera, J. Camposc,
    E. Kauselc, S. Barrientosc, D. Dimitrovd

    We would then conclude that the southern part of the Concepción–Constitución gap has accumulated a slip deficit that is large enough to produce a very large earthquake of about Mw= 8.0–8.5.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/28560952/Ruegg-et-al-2009-1-1

  107. 1DandyTroll (07:34:13) :
    If you know anything about native americans from the southern tip Argentina to the northern tip of Canada, (both which are farther in either direction then Chile and Alaska,) there’s two things that are striking very few city civilization like ancient Egypt or ancient India,…
    THIS IS NOT TRUE AT ALL!, before the pyramids in Egypt were built, there were pyramids in the city of CARAL, Peru, 5000 years ago, a few kilomters north of Lima, the peruvian capital.
    See the links below:

    http://www.caralperu.gob.pe/civilizacion/intro.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caral

    And, if you read Walter Fairservis’ “The origins of oriental civilization” you will find there that the first wrinting in China was the Quipu (Kee-poo), knot writing tought by the emperor FU-HI. Quipus have been found at Caral.

  108. Mr Lynn
    Caleb (03:19:17) and D. Patterson (03:47:28) have effectively countered Mr. Hoffer’s generalizations.>>

    Sure, my generalizations are well, general, and I have accepted the exceptions pointed out. That doesn’t mean the exceptions should be accepted as the general rule.

    Consider Canada. Even with modern technology, the vast bulk of Canada’s population live in the southern few percent of the country, AN

  109. Mr Lynn
    Caleb (03:19:17) and D. Patterson (03:47:28) have effectively countered Mr. Hoffer’s generalizations.>>

    Sure, my generalizations are well, general, and I have accepted the exceptions pointed out. That doesn’t mean the exceptions should be accepted as the general rule.

    Consider Canada. Even with modern technology, the vast bulk of Canada’s population live in the southern few percent of the country, AND ITS WARMER NOW THAN IT WAS THEN. Most of Canada is empty of population now, and it was empty then. Consider the vast stretches of desert in the United States. Nevada went into the gambling business because you can’t generate much economy from sand. If you want to accuse me of generalizing, then fine. Start by taking the vast chunks of continent that could not (and still can’t) support intense agriculture out of the equation. Then take the vast chunks that could, but show no sign of that having happen. Now you are left with the exceptions.

  110. Ryan Stephenson (03:10:19) :

    I was not referring to climate. I was referring to drought. That is why I used the word drought. A change in climate that causes an increase in lightning does not mean a decrease in rain. In fact, quite the opposite. I may not be a climate scientist, but I am well versed in the scientific method and have mastered field well outside my normal domains. I grew up in Phoenix so I am pretty familiar with lightning. The most dangerous time for forest fires is at the start of the monsoon, before the rains really start to kick in. I would assume that an increase in temperature means more energy for dynamic weather, e.g. thunder storms with lightning. The other point I was trying to make is that California has a dry season that has nothing to do with drought. Dry conditions and drought are two different things.

    Is the popular notion of “an increase in hot means an increase in dry” contaminating the interpretation of this study? Because as i understand it, an increase in hot is usually accompanied by an increase in wet, not dry.

    Also that often stated figure of 90% of fires are anthropogenic is suspicious considering the agencies that promote it. In Arizona, most fires are started by lightning! (I have even seen a lightning strike start a fire along Bee Line Hwy in the late 80’s. It was pretty cool thing to witness!)

    I wish you guys would read my entire posts before criticizing.

  111. 1DandyTroll (07:34:13) : Here you can find Walter Fairservis’ page on Quipu knot writing:

  112. Ed Murphy (22:08:42) :

    Thanks a lot. I was looking at this last night after my post. I thought that maybe the ring density could indicate drought, but I was not sure if I was looking at things correctly.

  113. D. Patterson — Then remember the New World has more than 42 million square kilometers of territory, and even at the bragain basement population density rates, the Old World would still have had tens of millions of people whenever those populations were not already reduced some 90% and more by catastrophes such as the New World and Old World diseases.

    I have no issue with the concept that indian populations could reach into the millions range in optimal conditions; that number would be consistent with archeaological and written evidence. But **57 million** people hanging about and doing laundry and hunting turkeys etc the day columbus landed is too much. I’m all for scholarship and even reasonable conjecture. This isn’t it.

    Re sequoia fires, this is a simpler issue that we’re making it out to be. There have been people mucking about in any size number in that region since when? There’s precious little evidence of substantial human settlement before say 14 or 15k years ago. Meanwhile as another poster pointed out these trees REQUIRE fire to propagate. OK, so quickie genetics study shows that this species existed before, or after humans? If before then it’s safe to say that for whatever reason fires were almost certainly natural, and while fire frequencies may be somewhat altered by humans doing things for their own reasons, the idea that the fires are *mostly* human seems rather silly.

    Ockham’s razor.

  114. There is just NO way the temperature of medieval Europe was 7C warmer than the 20th century.

    First of all, I am not sure which graph you are looking at but both graphs have the same Y axis values – with a maximum deviation of 2 degrees in the top one and 1.5 degrees in the bottom. The difference in temperature between now and MWP in that graph is ~ 0.7 degrees not 7.

    And second:

    A graph of dubious value is not nearly sufficient.

    This second graph is from the IPCC. Actually both are – and both were considered by the IPCC as the most accurate view of historical temperatures at the time. The top graph is from IPCC 2001 report and the bottom IPCC 1990 report.

    While you can argue that the more recent one is more “accurate” because it was newer that doesn’t automatically make it so. It is also considerable different – so much so any sane person would be asking “why?”.

    This link http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=de&sl=de&tl=en&u=http://www.science-skeptical.de/blog/beispiellose-erwarmung-oder-beispiellose-datenmanipulation/001195/

    Has a nice little discussion on these two specific graphs and considering the amount of reseearch and data that shows the bottom one is “closer” to being right then the small amount that went into the top one – and the issues of splicing different temperature sets – and the data originating from an incredibly small region demographically, common sense would suggest you view the top one with more skepticism. But hey, common sense doesn’t seem to play a large part in this issue.

  115. Anecdotally, doesn’t this proposed drought period fit with the Anasazi indian society destruction?

  116. Veronica (03:19:44): If the fires were man-made then it would be interesting to know why people were clearing the brush under the trees – it is plain that the trees themselves were not the target, as they survived – although they suffered collateral damage.

    Some scholars have listed over 70 reasons why Indians burned. Here are a few:

    Reduce fire hazards
    Drive game
    Promote food crops
    Promote fiber crops
    Promote browse
    Create and cure firewood
    Attack enemies
    Defend against enemy attack

    Note: a lot of the comments above are poorly informed. There has been a huge amount of study and scholarship in anthropology, landscape geography, history, etc. The literature is deep and available. Which is why I am so disappointed in Swetnam. I don’t expect lay people to have reviewed the literature, but I DO expect scientists like Swetnam to have done so. But he is famous, or should I say infamous, for his total denial of historical human influences on the environment.

    Denial of the existence and basic humanity of people is the worst form of denial — right? Denial of American aboriginal populations and influences is equivalent to denial of Hitler’s Holocaust. It is an evil thing.

    That’s what is so disturbing about the climate Alarmists’ use of the term “denier” to describe climate realists. The Alarmists are trying to paint climate realists as evil, comparing them to those who are so racist and bigoted as to be blind to mass genocide and the humanity of the Holocaust victims.

    I am a climate realist but I am not a denier — I do not deny the Holocaust, and I do not deny the existence and humanity of people anywhere, including in the pre-Columbian Americas.

    I hope that none of you fall into the trap of such extreme skepticism and/or bigotry that you would deny the existence and humanity of your fellow man.

  117. Wren, R. Gates and anyone I missed

    I don’t know who put together the graphs at the beginning of this article, but
    the portion of the graph showing the MWP as it appears there can be found on page 202 of the 1990 IPCC Assessment

    J T Houghton, G J Jenkins, J J Ephraums, Eds,, “Climate Change; The IPCC Scientific Assessment”. 1990 . Cambridge University Press

    which does not appear to be online anywhere. I got the reference from the
    late John L. Daly’s site,

    http://www.john-daly.com/hockey/hockey.htm

    and I located a copy in a research library using Worldcat to verify his
    information. (so shoot me, I’m a librarian by training and couldn’t help
    myself).

  118. RR Kampen (02:16:00) : because the Article is also very much about the “Medieval Warm Period” which was removed form the Temperature History in the first graph for the IPCC whereas history showed it in the lower graph.

  119. Steven Pinker debunked the noble savage and all this other PC social science nonsense years ago in his book The Blank Slate.

    In his new book A History of Violence, a review here: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_index.html

    It is clear left-wing ideology plays an important role in the characterizations we read above about ridiculous so-called research suggesting fifty-five million in the 1400,s, right.

    An excerpt:

    Some of the evidence has been under our nose all along. Conventional history has long shown that, in many ways, we have been getting kinder and gentler. Cruelty as entertainment, human sacrifice to indulge superstition, slavery as a labor-saving device, conquest as the mission statement of government, genocide as a means of acquiring real estate, torture and mutilation as routine punishment, the death penalty for misdemeanors and differences of opinion, assassination as the mechanism of political succession, rape as the spoils of war, pogroms as outlets for frustration, homicide as the major form of conflict resolution—all were unexceptionable features of life for most of human history. But, today, they are rare to nonexistent in the West, far less common elsewhere than they used to be, concealed when they do occur, and widely condemned when they are brought to light.

    At one time, these facts were widely appreciated. They were the source of notions like progress, civilization, and man’s rise from savagery and barbarism. Recently, however, those ideas have come to sound corny, even dangerous. They seem to demonize people in other times and places, license colonial conquest and other foreign adventures, and conceal the crimes of our own societies. The doctrine of the noble savage—the idea that humans are peaceable by nature and corrupted by modern institutions—pops up frequently in the writing of public intellectuals like José Ortega y Gasset (“War is not an instinct but an invention”), Stephen Jay Gould (“Homo sapiens is not an evil or destructive species”), and Ashley Montagu (“Biological studies lend support to the ethic of universal brotherhood”). But, now that social scientists have started to count bodies in different historical periods, they have discovered that the romantic theory gets it backward: Far from causing us to become more violent, something in modernity and its cultural institutions has made us nobler.

  120. D. Patterson — Then remember the New World has more than 42 million square kilometers of territory, and even at the bragain basement population density rates, the Old World would still have had tens of millions of people whenever those populations were not already reduced some 90% and more by catastrophes such as the New World and Old World diseases.

    Please read what you have written, you really think that the Native Americans covered the Whole of the North Americas, 42 million square kilometers of territory without Horses?
    You mean they didn’t just group around where there was Water, Food, Shelter and more temperate jones?
    Perhaps we should ask some Native Americans.

  121. “Jimbo (18:01:22) :”

    Sadly the giant Sequoia’s are doomed as a result of NPS’ mismanagement. NPS regime prohibits removal of the shade tolerant understory of trees that provide a fuel bridge from the ground into the crowns of these magnificent trees.

    Prior to settlement, a combination of natural ground fires and those regularly set by Indians gave the sequoia stands their cathedral-like setting. No understory of trees could be established. The thick sequoia bark protected the trees from the frequent but low intensity (lack of high fuel loading) ground fires. Crown fires that can kill sequoias were rare.

    After settlement, the fire protection prescription allowed the Sierra forests to evolve into their current hazardous situation. It is only a matter of time before a fire gets into the tree crowns of these ancient trees and kills them.

  122. Tree Rings, CO2 levels, local temperature records from thermometers, sea shells, ocean floor deposits, and a thousand other things, give us “data” which we then attempt to decipher and make some sence out of. Sometimes, someone actually succeeds, and after 20-30 or more years, more and more people look at their work and say: “They were right!”

    There doesn’t seem to be anything fast about a life’s worth of research or the ‘recognition’ for good work and new findings. More often than not, historicaly, the ‘finder’ of the something ‘new’ dies before he/she is ever properly acknowledged.

    Anytime someone starts jumping up and down and screaming “The Sky Is Falling!” you can pretty much put that person in the category of a flake with a problem. If .01% of the population is a little off their rocker at any given time, that means that there are about 650,000 walking around talking to themselves and shouting strange things to everyone they pass on the sidewalk. (I am not speaking of those with real medical or psychiatric problems.)

    There does however seem to be an increasing trend line for flakes (as with everything else these days). I personally believe it has something to do with sugar, plastics, detergents, and/or food additives –perhaps it’s genetic modification of foods.

  123. DesterYote — Also that often stated figure of 90% of fires are anthropogenic is suspicious considering the agencies that promote it. In Arizona, most fires are started by lightning! (I have even seen a lightning strike start a fire along Bee Line Hwy in the late 80’s. It was pretty cool thing to witness!)

    Nice point, which brings to mind one final thought on this silliness. I find is a little suspicious that fires that are supposedly anthropogenic in nature seem to somehow correlate to the temperature record as we understand it.

    Surely it’s occured to someone by now that the claim of anthropogenic fires ought to follow a pattern that is a pattern of its own sake for its own reason, and not necessarily a reproduction of the temp record. A bit convenient.

    That notion stretches credulity to the breaking point. Ockham’s Razor certainly applies here.

  124. AC osborn — Please read what you have written, you really think that the Native Americans covered the Whole of the North Americas, 42 million square kilometers of territory without Horses?

    Of course. Homo Erectus walked from Africa and covered much of southeast Asia in a relatively short time.

  125. If someone already pointed this out and I’ve missed it I apologize (but
    sometimes redundancy is good). If we look at Mann’s latest version of
    his reconstruction, wherein he allows that “The Medieval period is found
    to display warmth that matches or exceeds that of the past decade in
    some regions, but which falls well below recent levels globally”

    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/MannetalScience09.pdf

    and examine fig. 2 on page 1257, we see that his reconstruction shows
    the area of the Sequoia National Park as having a surface temperature
    anomaly of -.1 C for the period 950-1250.

  126. Ian McLeod (09:27:06) : You are absolutely right. Nobody has been able to find ANY kind of weapons or war defenses at the City of CARAL, a five thousand years old culture, archelogists have found, instead, musical instruments, amphitheaters, places of cult, quipus (knot writings), etc.

    http://www.caralperu.gob.pe/civilizacion/intro.html

    Your are also right when you say that leftist invented and changed world history to make believe “social justice” was imposible to find under any other form of government but under theirs “social paradise”. Justice was found, as history (now a forbidden subject to be taught at schools as UNESCO recommends) shows under every form of government. So the “new age”, post-normal archeological and settled science presents old cultures’ people, as savages and ignorants. They and their settled science are the real ignorants. Thanks God knowledge it is still out there for those who seek the truth.

  127. Jim Berkise (09:13:55) :
    Wren, R. Gates and anyone I missed

    I don’t know who put together the graphs at the beginning of this article, but
    the portion of the graph showing the MWP as it appears there can be found on page 202 of the 1990 IPCC Assessment

    J T Houghton, G J Jenkins, J J Ephraums, Eds,, “Climate Change; The IPCC Scientific Assessment”. 1990 . Cambridge University Press

    which does not appear to be online anywhere. I got the reference from the
    late John L. Daly’s site,

    http://www.john-daly.com/hockey/hockey.htm

    and I located a copy in a research library using Worldcat to verify his
    information. (so shoot me, I’m a librarian by training and couldn’t help
    myself).
    =====
    Mann maps the MWP in North America in his paper.

    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/MannetalScience09.pdf

  128. Unesco recommends only “continental” history to substitute national history (in every country):
    In this perspective, the creation of the African Union (AU) offers new hope for addressing history teaching within the continent as a whole. The AU Member States have already expressed strong support for the renovation of history education on the basis of the General History of Africa

    http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001840/184049e.pdf

    If this is not conspiracy, the same as climate scam and from the same source, what is it?

  129. The woodlands of N. America, especially east of the Mississippi, were an incredibly rich environment which supported large, but unknown numbers of distinct tribes existing in loose contact with one another, sometimes at war, sometimes at peace, often moving from one area to another, but always in harmony with the land and the seasons.

    To state that these people didn’t have agricultural is absurd. Many Algonquian and related tribes relied on the Three Sisters – Corn, Beans, and Squash – in addition to meat, berries, roots and tubers. In fact, food was so abundant for the Illiniwek tribes, they didn’t even bother to fish, even though they used large dugout canoes for transportation. Further north, tribes that did fish often used birch-bark canoes, and not without peril.

    When they went out onto the prairies to hunt buffalo, the Peoria, Tamaroa, Kaskaskia, Miami and other woodland tribes started grass fires to trap the large herbivores, and then slaughter sometimes large numbers of them with the beautifully finished flint weapons crafted by these men.

    The Peoria recognized only two Great Spirits: Sun and Thunder

    The virtual disappearance of the native populations in (especially) Eastern North America is one of the great human tragedies of all time.

  130. Ryan Stephenson (03:10:19) :

    “Fires, by themselves are not an indication of drought. They could indicate an unusual amount of lightning”

    ” Since we can assume there has been no great increase in altitude in California over 3000 years, we can say that any increase in lightning frequency was due to lightning.”
    ————————————————————

    Did you mean, any increase in fires was due to lightning?

    “If you assume that the forest fires were linked to temperary climate change then there are two possibilities that become obvious. One is that the forest fires were a regular occurence but became more extensive due to the forest floor being tinder dry. The second is that the warmer climate caused the food supply to diminish resulting in more numerous failed attempts to deliberately clear the Sequoias to permit more farming.”
    ————————————————————

    There are a few things wrong with the second assumption that would render it unlikely. First of all, the high altitude and very rugged terrain of the Sierra Nevada would have made access to the Giant Sequoia forests very difficult, making produce transport problematic. There were no beasts of burden until much later on. Secondly, the rocky terrain features nutrient-poor soil of little depth, very little sunlight reaching the forest floor and a very short growing season; not exactly ideal farming conditions. Thirdly, the early inhabitants of the western US were not farmers; they were hunter-gatherers. Even the non-nomadic coastal tribes were hunter-gatherers. Had they been farmers like some of the eastern tribes, why on Earth would they leave the most fertile farmland in North America, California’s vast Central Valley?

    As someone who minored in Pre-Colombian Anthropology, I am familiar with the early inhabitants of the western US. As a native Californian who has spent a considerable amount of time in the Sierra over many decades, I can tell you from first hand observation that lightning strikes are a very common occurrence and can pose a real hazard to backpackers No doubt there were fires started accidentally by ancient hunters from time to time. They also likely never lived to tell the tale, given the nasty habit of Sierra winds to reverse direction and swirl about. To suggest that most of the ancient fires in the areas studied were anthropogenic in nature defies logic to anyone truly familiar with the terrain and the food gathering practices of the tribes that inhabited those areas in ancient times. Frankly, I find the notion absurd.

  131. toby (07:54:13) :
    Some people have commented on it already – my concerns are associated with the lower “Historical” graph above.

    There is just NO way the temperature of medieval Europe was 7C warmer than the 20th century. Believe me, my Irish ancestors would have been drinking wine to beat the band, rather than sticking to raw whiskey, if they could have grown grapes. There were enough monastic orders in Ireland to introduce grapes if they could. Believe it or not, wine is made in Ireland and Britain today, but only in certain microclimates along the southern coasts.

    I agree there was a MWP, and I would not be surprised if it extended throughout the northern hemisphere, and maybe beyond. No one really disputes the MWP basics and that its ending was accompanied by population decline like the Norse Greenland colony, but also the decline of the English colony in Ireland, wars and famines across Europe.
    =======
    A paper by Mann shows MWP throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/MannetalScience09.pdf

    From the MCA map in Figure 2, you can see the American Southwest was warmer than Ireland.

  132. BBk (04:29:42) :

    D. Patterson:

    “The New World area is about 42,549,000 square kilometers. Some anthropologists estimate the pre-civilization paleolithic cultures had a population density of at least around some 0.1 persons per square kilometer. Such a population density would result in a population of at least some 4 million people in the New World living in pre-civilization hunter-gatherer groups. ”

    Faulty logic there… just because a culture has a given population density in an area that they exist (which, as you say, is esitmated anyway), doesn’t mean that they existed everywhere that it was possible to exist so that you can extrapolate to total population.

    North America has a population density of slightly less than 23 people per square kilometer at the present time. That average density in no way indicates there are nearly 23 people in every square kilometer. It means there are 0 people in some square kilometers, 2,600 people in other square kilometers, 700 people in other square kilometers, and so forth. Likewise with a hypothetical population density of 1 person per square kilometer. It means there are 0 people in some square kilometers, 2,600 people in other square kilometers, 700 people in other square kilometers, and so forth. The proposition that 57 million could not and did not populate the New World in in 1492AD or before then requires the assumption that it was not possible for the “average” population density of the New World to exceed 1.34 people per square kilometer. To guage the likeliehood of such a proposition, we can look at what we already know from experience.

    We know the Eskimo population density in one of the harshest climates on the Earth was about .015 people per square kilometer. We know that the heavily jungled areas of New Guinea supported and still support population densities of 1 person per square kilometer in the most difficult environments of the lowlands and 20 people per square mile in the less difficult highlands. Even the Bushmen of the Kalahari, arguably one of the most nomadic cultures in one of the Earth’s most harsh desert environments managed to achieve a population density of 1 person per square mile or more. The Mongol culture maintained an average population density of 1 person per square mile in the steppes and deserts of Asia. Many of the pre-Columbian cultures of the New World were far more populous and civilized food producers and farmers than the Eskimo, Bushmen of the Kalahari, and other neolithic hunter-gatherer cultures. Their cities, suburban towns, outposts, road networks, canals, and irrigation projects attest to their large and civilized (meaning agricultural) populations far in excess per square mile than your average hunter-gatherer cultures and their 1 person per square mile population densities spanning the most forbidding deserts, steppes, mountains, and jungles.

    Given the facts of population densities for the most primitive of hunter-gatherer cultures living a nomadic existance across the harshest environments the Earth has to offer versus the much more populous early agricultural civilizations, by what mathematics can it be reasoned and supposed that the “average” population density for all of the New World, including its farming civilizations, would be less than 1.34 people per square kilometer or less than the 1 person per square kilometer found among the Earth’s most primitive and nomadic cultures resident across the world’s emptiest territories?

    As I understand it, the bulk of the population was nomadic, which meant that they shifted sites. If every location in North America was claimed by a tribe, there’d be nowhere to go to find new game, etc. I doubt the .1 person/km estimate was based on land use over many years, but rather land in use at any given time.

    You understand incorrectly. Nomadic cultures defend their territories. The Mississippian culture of North America spanned much of the watershed of the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, and Missouri Rivers. This culture was a civilization which built permanent mound cities with canals, irrigation projects, farms, towns, gardens, and other permenent public works. As the farms and cities developed, former nomadic camps were transformed into permanent palisaded fortresses. The ill defined territories of the nomadic clans were tranformed into formal territorial boundaries of a semi-nodic and non-nomidic civilization defended by these permanent fortresses. Far from being the most primitive stone age bands of hunter-gatherers depicted so often, the Mississipian culture was a civilization spanning a good portion of North America and comparable in many respects to the copper-age Celtic civilizations of the Old World. The territories not occupied by the Mississippian culture were not barren of all civilization and civilized population densities either. There were other civilized and semi-nomadic cultures adjacent to the Mississipian culture.

    The demise of these civilizations and cultures are not a matter of speculation. Witnesses documented some of their abrupt collapse. Some of the catastrophic population collapses occurred centuries and decades before 1492AD. Others occurred after 1492AD and are undoubtedly the consequence of the exchanges of disease pools between the New World and Old World. The pandemics killed so many people, there was often no one or few left alive as survivors to bury the dead. The political landscape underwent monumental upheavals as the surviving Amerindian cultures competed to takeover the suddenly vacant territories. Maps showing the pre-Columbian locations of the tribes, confederations, and languages are contrasted with the post-Columbian locations. The results and the extent of the catastrophe are obvious.

  133. Wren (10:49:25),

    In case you didn’t realize it, Michael Mann has an agenda. Further, ever since his Hokey Stick chart that showed no MWP or LIA was debunked by Steve McIntyre, Mann has been desperate to resurrect his greatly diminished reputation.

    To help you out, here is an interactive chart of the MWP: click

    Like every other time span covering hundreds of years, there are temperature fluctuations. Mann et al. cherry-picks some of those for his study, which is essentially worthless. The MWP affected the globe, Mann’s self-serving, revisionist history notwithstanding.

  134. [snip]

    The issue is not whether the earliest Asian immigrants to North America were fine and wonderful, even civilized by standards of later European immmigrants, with great cities in parts of Central and South America, and numbering in the millions, or not.

    The issue is whether the increased frequency of forest fires affecting the measured trees of this study during the middle ages is evidence supporting the MWP’s presence in more than Europe. I think this is evidence, though quite indirect, circumstantial, and not enough to justify a strong opinion. More work along these lines may be helpful.

  135. The MWP and Holocene droughts are well known in the West Coast, Sierras and the Great Basin due to tree rings, sediments, and pollen in from the lakes and playas in the region. Of particular interest are the tree stumps in many lakes and stream beds dating from both the MWP and the logs/stranded groves found at higher altitude. Corroborating evidence also comes from studies of pack rat middens and human settlements showing great stress on both communities at that time. Further evidence can be found in fish scale studies and species counts.

    This evidence is also global as it is mirrored in Central and South America.

    The evidence for the MWP is overwhelming.

  136. davidmhoffer (08:23:06) :
    [....]
    If you want to accuse me of generalizing, then fine. Start by taking the vast chunks of continent that could not (and still can’t) support intense agriculture out of the equation. Then take the vast chunks that could, but show no sign of that having happen. Now you are left with the exceptions.

    That’s right, the exceptions were included in the overall average. If you want to concentrate on the more habitable woodlands of North America, then assume the Eastern Woodland Culture spanned somewhere around 2.6 million square kilometers. We know that the primitive cultures of New Guinea achieved population densities of up to 20 people per square kilometer. If we assume for the sake of comparisons that the Mississipian culture was incapable of equaling or exceeding the population densities of the less advanced and less well situated cultures of New Guinea, then 20 people per square kilometer times 2.6 million square kilometers for the Eastern Woodland Area gives you a possible Eastern Woodland Culture population of 52 million people. Note, this number does not include any of the other Amerindian populations anywhere else in the New World.

    Even if we assume the Eastern Woodland culture was no more successful than the much less civilized (meaning much less agriculturized) hunter-gatherer cultures of today’s South American rain forests, their 2.5 people per square mile population density times the 2.6 million square kilometer Eastern Woodland area results in a possible Eastern Woodland area population of 6.5 million people.

    Add the Plains Amerindian culture at 1 person per square kilometer and assuming 2.6 million square kilometers for the plains area, the result is another 2.6 million population of Plains culture Amerindians.

    Assuming the remainder of North America except for Mesoamerica, habitable and unihabitable, of about 19 million square kilometers supports an average of only the prehistoric paleolithic population density of about 0.01 people per square kilometer, the result is a population of about 1.9 million people. So, even a very pessimistic estimate based on known populaton densities in the New World and Old World has us at 6.5 million for the Woodland area, 2.6 million for the Plains cultures, and 1.9 million for all other cultures north of Mesoamerica. This comes to a total of 11 million people, before we even begin adding the populations of the Mesoamerican civilizations, the South American civilizations, and all of the other cultures in Mesoamerican and South America.

    Anything greater than the most pessimistic examples of real world population densities is only going to increase the hypothetical Amerindian populations of the New World somewhere above a 20 to 30 million population level.

    When you then apply a 90% population collapse due to a pandemic of epic proportions as reported by so many historical witnesses, then it cannot be surprising to find the surviving population in the immediate aftermath may number no more than some 2 million to 6 million of their former populations of 50 to 60 million people spread over two continents of 42 million square kilometers, speaking hypothetically.

  137. “As I understand it, the bulk of the population was nomadic, which meant that they shifted sites. If every location in North America was claimed by a tribe, there’d be nowhere to go to find new game, etc. I doubt the .1 person/km estimate was based on land use over many years, but rather land in use at any given time. ”

    Just to add to what Patterson said in response to the above about the Mississippian culture. Here are some links.

    We also know that most of the Nomadic tribes of North America were actually splinters from the Eastern tribes who left the Eastern region and took the Great Plains by force in response to climatic upheavals during the WMP and Little Ice Age. They became nomadic due to rain and weather making crops unprofitable.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahokia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippian_culture

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeastern_Ceremonial_Complex

    We know that the Aztec Empire had about 35 million people. They wrote it down.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec_codices

    The South American continent was very heavily populated. We now know of two more major groups of civilizations other than the Maya and the Inca. One of these new civilizations covered the Amazon and the other settled the Eastern foothills of the Andes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta

    http://www.theancientweb.com/explore/content.aspx?content_id=45

    Another way to look at the Amerindian culture is to realize that Corn, Sweet Potatoes, and Potatoes are Amerindian inventions. Together, they provide about 1.2 billion tons of food today with the potato now becoming the dominant source of calories. Rice and Wheat together provide less than this at around 900 million tons. The potato by itself is the dominant caloric food for Northern Europe from the 1780s onward. These foods dominate the fossil food record up and down North and South America. On marginal land, potatoes and Sweet Potatoes can support 8-12 people per acre including enough livestock to supply protein via milk. On fertile soil, the output will support 20-40 people per acre. If you look at Inca settlements, this figure is close to the latter.

  138. A C Osborn (09:30:57) :
    Please read what you have written, you really think that the Native Americans covered the Whole of the North Americas, 42 million square kilometers of territory without Horses?
    You mean they didn’t just group around where there was Water, Food, Shelter and more temperate jones?
    Perhaps we should ask some Native Americans.

    You grossly underestimate the capabilities and accomplishments of our ancestors.

    The Inca maintained the Inca Road and a postal system, much like those of the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Chinese, and other civilizations. Much like the Romans, the Inca established inns and communities about every 20 to 22 kilometers along the roadway. The couriers, chasqui, ran and relayed messages and sometimes light packages about every 1.4 kilometers between the inns. Fresh fish from the Pacific coast were delivered to Cusco with a travel time of about 240 kilometers per day. The Inca maintained communicatins all the way from the Pacific Coast, across the Andes Mountains, and deep into the Amzon rain forests far to the east.

    The Mayan road system extended across much of Mesoamerica.

    The Aztec empire conducted slave capturing raids from Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) far up into the Great Plains where the Canadian Shield begins.

    Roads and well worn trade routes existed all the way from the shores of Hudson Bay to the praries of Texas.

    The Dorset culture maintained trade routes which extended all the way from the Pacific Coast of Alaska, across Arctic Canada, to Baffin Island, across Northern Greenland and Pearyland, down the eastern coast of Greenland on the Atlantic Ocean.

    The Creek nation pursued the Choctaw nation all the way from Old Mexico, into Arkansas and Missouri, across the Mississippi River into Mississippi and Alabama in a bid to wipe them out in a genocide over a dispute and revenge.

    Colonization of a continent by foot and by boat takes an amazingly short period of time so long as the population expands at any rate whatsoever.

  139. Wren (10:49:25) :

    As I mentioned at (10:15:05), as closely as I can match the map in Mann’s
    figure 2, p 1257, his reconstruction shows the area of the Sequoia National
    Park as having a surface temperature anomaly of -.1 C for the period 950-
    1250. This does not fit very well with the results reported in the Fire Ecology article.

    The graph showing the Medieval Warm Period as shown in the graph above
    appeared in the IPCC’s 1990 Assessment. I’m not asserting that it was that
    warm here, only that at one time the IPCC accepted that it was. There is an
    accurate and well cited reproduction of that graph here:

    http://www.john-daly.com/hockey/hockey.htm

    I tracked down a copy of this volume and verified it for myself.

  140. Even with so much of New England’s history wiped out by the terrible pandemic, there are traces of both the MWP and the LIA seen in the little we do know. The MWP apparently drove sugar maples northward. Northern Algonquin tapped maples and exploited sugar, but southern Algonquin had no word for sugar and scorned the English for consuming so much of it. It was actually the English who expanded the range of sugar maples southward and towards the coasts during the LIA, by transplanting saplings, which mostly grew beside roads and in what I suppose you could call “orchards.” Sugar maples were very rare in the forests of the south, so rare in fact that Henry Thoreau makes a big deal about finding an old specimen in the Weston woods. (It likely was a final survivor of the maple population which existed before the MWP.)

    In the same way the northern range of corn plants was in New England. Less is known about how it moved north and south, but the northern Algonquin hunted more and had no word for “fertilizer,” while the southern Algonquin farmed more and did have a word for fertilizer.

    This brings a funny story to mind. There are two words for an oily herring in New England, “Pogy” and “Menhaden.” My more snobby relatives insisted on using the word “Menhaden,” as it sounded more sophisticated, but my more salty and down-to-earth relatives chuckled at them, and used the word “Pogy,” which was derived from a northern Algonquin word for fish, while my snobby relatives pointed out to sea and remarked about a school of “fertilizer.”

    In any case, the simple fact fish was used for fertilizer enabled the Algonquin to use the same fields year after year in southern New England, and the suggestion they had a sort of primitive slash-and-burn agriculture is simply incorrect.

  141. A couple of things regarding the fire dependent nature of the giant sequoias, which has not been mentioned so far [for those of you who care about such things], that become obvious even to the non-expert who takes the time to wander around in one of the groves for a while. The first is that many of the oldest and largest trees are in fact made hollow by fire, and that the fire cavities can be the size of a small room in which one can sleep [or live] quite comfortably [I have] which has something to say about the nature of the fires that these trees are subject to, if it can burn through two feet of bark.

    A second thing to notice is that when one of the larger ‘grandfather’ trees dies, and eventually falls, is that the deadfall, which for all of the world resembles a train wreck with sections of trunk the size of railcars stretching for hundreds of feet across the forest floor, can persist in this slowly decaying state for hundreds of years. Thus the potential nutritive value that the deadfall represents to the forest and the sequoias themselves is only slowly returned to back to the soil and that therefore it is reasonable to wonder where, [aside from needle fall and cones], where all of the nutrient inputs to the ecosystem are. These large trees add literally tons of new growth to their mass every year which can remain largely locked up in their trunks for millennia, which begs to question how they can support such high growth rates in such an otherwise challenging environment.

    A third thing that you will notice is how that many of ‘grandfather’ trees are surrounded by a ring of smaller, younger fir or pine trees whose lifespan is a few hundred years rather than a few thousand years. It is these trees that in a major fire burn and in the form of ash then fertilize the soil in the way that the sequoias thrive upon. I think it can be reasonably said [in a certain way] that these companion trees sacrifice themselves bodily to support the growth of the sequoias. Ironically, it is these burning fir trees that pose the only real fire threat to their sequoia symbionts, the burning trunk of a fir leaning up against the sequoia can lead to exactly the type of fire hollowing damage that we observe and that ultimately makes it possible for a dead sequoia to fall over at all, otherwise they might remain standing dead for a thousand years [not much good even for the squirrels].

    Beautiful beings, it’s absolutely enchanting to spend time over a period of days sitting with one of them, I miss being up there.

  142. Anthony
    Seems like there’s a fair amount of interest in Pre-Columbian Native American population. When the weather breaks, might be nice to have a guest post by someone who really knows something about the subject.

  143. Looking out the kitchen window just now, I was just reminded of something my buddy Phi wrote a number of years ago after spending some time sitting in the immanent grove with the gods.

    A fragment…

    …The roving mind of God casts its shadow in our minds,
    And like children tracing the shadows of trees on the ground,
    We mistake this image made of shadows,
    This dimensional flattening of truth,
    For the Truth.

    Look up!
    Look upwards!
    Eternity is there to be beheld in its infinite unfolding.
    The light that shines through its branches is God,
    What it shines upon is you.

    ~ © φ 2005

    … Well, I guess that outs me now as possibly the oddest bulb in the box, or at least having the oddest friends.

  144. Ian McLeod – Schulman began his hunt for a species with better drought sensitivity (Bristlecones) because Sequoias grew too uniformly; basically you couldn’t tell much from the Giant Sequoia because they require a tremendous amount of water to survive (500+ gallons/day) which is why they only grow near steady water sources. Thus a Bristlecone – Sequoia correlation is unlikely and not very useful given that groundwater conditions could not be more different.

    Mike D & Pascvaks – This article seems to support MWP…which, in turn is another body blow against the IPCC and the Alarmists. I like this. However, this article does not provide substantial evidence to support MWP…if I am going to criticize Salzer & Mann for junk science, I have to be consistent.
    So here are my criticisms:

    1. Fire needs a cause or source. Drought doesn’t cause fire. In fact the lack of moisture in the Troposphere during a drought would create less opportunity for lightning strikes and perhaps arguably less frequent fires.

    2. I have spoken to the Sequoia Lead Archeologist about anthropogenic fire. It is well known that Native Americans inhabited the entirety of Sequoia and Kings Canyon from the lowlands at 2,000 feet to the alpine region with temporary settlement evidence as high as 11,000 feet. They certainly inhabited the Sequoia belt in the Summers. The landscape the Europeans first saw in California in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s was a “Highly Modified” landscape. Which is to say, the Native Americans used Fire as a tool, often…both for access to steady food supplies and to clear out overgrowth.

    3. There is evidence to suggest that the Individual Sequoias (ones with hollowed out interiors from either fire or because they arch over a stream) were used as shelter and for cooking. Sequoia exteriors were also used as fire backstop/shelters.

    4. One Native American was ALWAYS made to stand guard and tend the fire at all times. This is specifically true of Native Americans in and around the Kaweah River who spent summers in Giant Forest. Fire was THAT important.

    5. This issue has already been addressed by Dr Bartholemew at UC Berkeley
    “Fire scars in the rings of giant sequoias describe fire history dating back to the birth of the tree—sometimes as far back as 2,500 years ago. Analysis of tree-ring scars indicates that before settlers came to California low-intensity surface fires, ignited by native people or lightening, burned every five years on average. These small fires cleared only the understory brush and small trees, leaving the larger trees only partially burned and on the whole unharmed. They maintained gaps in the canopy, provided space for developing sequoia saplings, replenished soil, and most likely made hunting and moving around in the forest easier for native people.”

    So I suppose the point is that the relationship between humans, fire & Sequoias is not perfectly understood, and simply pointing to increased fire scars and Barking “MWP” isn’t going to prove anything. I believe in the MWP, I just don’t believe the evidence presented above moves the argument further down the road.

    The National Park Service has studied the issue extensively yet inconclusively:
    Current hard historic evidence on the source of fires in the southern Sierra Nevada is too limited to determine the specific importance of either lightning or Native American causes. Actual patterns of fire across the landscape were probably a result of both ignition sources with the importance of each varying between specific vegetation types and locations. However, within the parks it is argued that the number of lightning ignitions could account for the observed pre- settlement fire frequencies if they had not been suppressed and had been allowed to spread (Swetnam et al 1992; Stephenson 1996; Vale 1998). This contrasts with views which suggest that lightning ignitions were not frequent enough to account for the number of fires that occurred in the Sierra prior to Euroamerican settlement (Reynolds 1959;
    Vankat 1970; Lewis 1973; Kilgore and Taylor 1979). The former view is supported by an analysis of past fire occurrence, reconstructed using fire scars, and contemporary lightning ignitions in the East Fork watershed (Caprio 2000 unpublished data). For the period from 1750 to 1849 fires
    were recorded during 75% of the years (25% without fires) while during the contemporary period from 1933 to 1999 lightning ignitions (243 total) were recorded for 79% of the years (21% without ignitions), a very similar frequency.

    Fire Scars with other evidence might prove the MWP in Giant Forest but there isn’t enough here. For example in nearby Mountain Home State Forest a cataclysmic fire hit virtually every tree in 1297 at the end of the MWP…similar to an 1849 fire that affected multiple groves and watersheds within Sequoia National Park….Both Fires were colossal…does that prove prolonged drought? What proves prolonged drought? I would expect a 500 year drought/warming as the author suggests to show a consistent and escalating sequoia die off along with a renewed forest wide sapling surge circa 1300 post drought.

    Lastly, I do not know if the issue has been studied, I would expect increased human activity in the sequoia belt in a major 500 year drought. I would expect them to bring fire with them and hence an increased incidence of fire. In a drought….Sequoias = water. These trees gobble up 500+ gallons a day or they die. So wherever these trees are, even where streams or lakes are dry, even where shrubs and small trees are dying, springs are probably permanent for human use.

  145. @Enneagram

    ‘THIS IS NOT TRUE AT ALL!, before the pyramids in Egypt were built, there were pyramids in the city of CARAL, Peru, 5000 years ago, a few kilomters north of Lima, the peruvian capital.’

    I’m gonna turn me charm on and put this as nicely as I possible can, mkey?

    Are you completely and utterly deranged? Since when did one constitute many?

    Ancient Egypt expands over several thousand years, like up until ancient Rome went tits up, i.e. right around when Caesar went all dictator on everyone, but of course it took a few hundred years for everything to really fall apart, oh yeah and bunch of, apparently, obnoxious christians.

    5000 years ago means 3000 B.C. So lets check the pedia on who’s who in 3000 BC, Wow that’s like 45 years after Djer died, second or third pharao of Egypt in the first dynasty. About a 100-150 years before King Menes created a larger Kingdom.

    And the pyramids you seem to mean are the classic egyptian pyramids, but some think the Nubians actually did it first, from where later the Egyptians got it. The early pyramids, which would then be the Nubians and pre-nubians I guess, before they got tourist impressive, weren’t exceptional constructions after all, but more like the ones found in China, just an impressive hill of dirt, or like in northern Europe a impressive pile of stones, but those are still considered pyramids. And although any kind of a pyramid isn’t a sure sign of city civilization still the americas didn’t have a lot of cities to speak of before the europeans came, and from what is known today not much of any unified, or linear, civilization transition at all. Personally I think it’s because of two things, the need to farm, i.e. lack of food, and the need to band together i.e. the lack of threat, which is related to the amount of people, or crazy kings and emperors.

  146. Dendrochronology is pretty cool stuff. When fire is part of a conifer’s reproductive cycle, that’s not “man made”. Forest fires are a fundamental part of the natural lifecycle.

    I’m just a passenger on this wonderful jewel of a planet in space. To think that I can change something like the weather is the definition of hubris.

  147. BBk (04:16:34) :

    Which is of course why they all relocated to tiny reservations instead of ejecting the newcomers who kept making demands. Throw enough bows and hatchets at a problem and the muskets and rifles aren’t going to matter (ask Custer.) If the new world population was higher than europe, then it totally dwarfed the european immigrant population.

    You are erroneously assuming the vast majority of pre-Columbian population lived long enough to directly meet and confront a European. On the contrary, something on the order of 90% or more of the Amerindian populations perished from the pandemics within the first century of the Columbian contacts. Nearly all of the victims of these pandemics died without ever meeting a European or even knowing of the existence of the Europeans. By the time of the 17th Century colonizations of North America (excluding Mesoamerica), the survivng Amerindian populations were but a small percentage of the earlier populations and still dwindling fast as disease continued to ravage their numbers at an astonishing rate.

    In the confrontations between the Euro-American colonists and the Amerindian nations, it was the Amerindian nations who tended to be better armed with firearms and other arms on frequent occassions than their Euro-American adversaries. The French and later British supplied arms to support the warfare against the colonists on the battlefields of the Eastern Woodlands. In the later conflicts on the Great Plains, Great Basin, and Far West, the Amerindians were often better armed with weapons such as the latest Henry repeating rifles against the cavalry’s single-shot carbines and the infantry’s muzzle-loading Springfield rifles. Historians who tallied the casualties resulting from the Indian wars and massacres north of Mexico found the Amerindians inflicted more casualties upon their adversaries than were inflicted upon themselves. It was the attrition of their already reduced populations resulting from the constant warfare against each other and against the colonizers which overwhelmed and doomed their efforts to dominate their territories against all competitors.

    I’m more inclined to say that this guy’s analysis and estimate is wrong. That’s the problem with models… you can get them to say anything you want to by adding some unjustified assumptions… things like “disease killed off 80% of the native population” to account for the dissappearances. (note: just an example of an assumption, not actually qupting their article.)

    The catastrophic extent of the “disease” and pandemic is most certainly not an “assumption” or an “unjustified assumption” by any stretch of the imagination. The rate is directly countable in places where observations occurred and were written down for posterity. The European colonists also lost heavily as disease, famine, and privation often wiped out a third or more of their colonial population in only one or two years at a time. Examples of such records of Colonial and Amerindian losses to disease are the Aztex-Spanish records; the contemporaneous observations in New Hispaniola, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, New England, Newfoundland; and the archeological ruins of the civilizations. The depopulation of the Amerindian cultures by diesease is an absolute certainty. The percentage of loss in a given decadal and century period is more problematic because of the major gaps in the understandably fragmentary observations and written records establishing precise dates and numbers.

    The situation was so dire, the Massachusetts Bay Colony lost about one third of its colonists in the first winter, another third refused to stay and returned home to England, and the last third suffered more horrific losses before a high birth rate of nearly ten children per family and improving conditions of food and shelter permitted the colony to survive and expand its numbers exponentially.

    It has often been observed that the population of Rome was sustained only by a very high rate of immigration into the city. The crowded living conditions and and sanitary circumstances maintained a very high rate of mortality due to disease among the city’s inhabitants. This was yet another reason why the wealthier city dwellers appreciated the opportunity to vacation away from the city during the more oppressive seasons when disease was more rampant in the city. On the occasions in which the City of Rome was no longer the preferred destination of immigrants seeking opportunities for a better life, the city abruptly shrank greatly in population, because there were no longer enough replacements for its constant loss of population to disease.

  148. For Amino:

    1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus [Deckle Edge] (Hardcover)

    ~ Charles C. Mann (Author)

    A mostinteresting book to read, about the Americas and American Indians. A bit of political correctness in it, but not all that much. And yes, the eastern American Indians did purposely burn the forest floor every yeat. This made the trees in the forests to be more widely spaced apart, creating great habitat for the critters the eastern American Indians hunted for food. In Europe, where this forest management wasn’t practiced, there was and still is little habitat for critters.

    Natural forests have darn little habitat for ground animals.

  149. Mike D. (21:06:08) :

    American Indians started fires where the giant sequoias are?

    You need to provide some sort of evidence for saying that, not just evidence they started grassland and shrubland fires.

    You are trying to produce a list of reason why there would be an increase from 800–1300 AD but your list didn’t include the Medieval Warm Period. Is this because you want to say there was no Medieval Warm Period?

    You seem to be interested in historical data. There is data from around the world that the Medieval Warm period was global wand not just regional to Greenland.

    see here

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/04/jo-nova-finds-the-medieval-warm-period/

    see here also:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/29/the-medieval-warm-period-a-global-phenonmena-unprecedented-warming-or-unprecedented-data-manipulation/

  150. Greg (15:31:05) :

    Dendrochronology is pretty cool stuff. When fire is part of a conifer’s reproductive cycle, that’s not “man made”. Forest fires are a fundamental part of the natural lifecycle.

    Humans often find it useful to prompt the “natural lifecycle” to move along at times, places, and directions more convenient to humans. If a natural lightning strike does not clear the understory of the forest to the liking of the humans, the humans apply a little of their own lighning to get the job done sooner. If a sugar maple tree isn’t where you find it convenient to have onem, you help nature along by moving a sugar maple to the palce you can use one more conveniently.

    Interstate Highway I-70 generally follows the same route froom Washington D.C. to St. Louis, Missouri as the earlier National Highway in use since the 18th Century. The National Highway was established generally along the same path used by the Amerindian cultures as their roadway through the Eastern Woodlands. The Amerinidans established their roadway through the Eastern Woodlands using the pre-existing game trails of Bison, elk, and other large game animals. Keeping the roadway free of weeds and undergrowth without the assistance of industrial age earthmoving equipment and large animals was problematic, until you used fire to keep the paths clear.

  151. DesertYote (08:48:44) :
    Ed Murphy (22:08:42) :
    Thanks a lot. I was looking at this last night after my post. I thought that maybe the ring density could indicate drought, but I was not sure if I was looking at things correctly.
    You’re quite welcome, it most definitely indicates drought in the rings. This was a root corner at the time of the first fire, a bit above the base of the tree, that’s why it burned a little more significantly while the less protruding parts of the trunk didn’t show much. With each wound covered, this area protruded even more, exposing the area to more burn damage in later fires.

    You can see the duration of the tree closing the wound, and how much extra energy went into that effort. In the later fires the tree didn’t fully close the wound before the next fire, as the whole tree got larger and wider.

    Eventually all this evidence was covered over by further growth over the years, so this was a surprise to UA’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research people. The wide rings also likely correspond with the years around solar minimum and the narrow rings with years around solar maximum, no doubt in my mind. If man were involved, the pattern would be irregular in my opinion.

  152. @Greg

    ‘Dendrochronology is pretty cool stuff.’

    I hope you’re proud of being who you are, because not even a comp geek, or nerd, in general find that kind of stuff: Cool.

    What would be cool is getting average joe understanding, or at least seeing, time. Figure this, can you actually imagine a hundred years back even fairly accurately? Hint, you get it more right the more you know.

    But in simple terms, no dendrochronology is not cool, it’s a bunch of bull sht. Figure this, that tree rings and like ice cores are converges before the claim of accuracy. Nobody actually knows anything about the actual accuracy in time before hand, it’s like all extrapolation after the fact. :p

  153. Wren (10:26:55) :

    I find a serious fracture in your ‘science’ argument, namely, you keep talking about the Mann Hockey Stick graph as if it valid for determining temperature during the Medieval Warm Period.

    You are ignoring the NAS report in that regard.The Mann Hockey Stick graph is not trustworthy for determining temperature during the Medieval Warm Period.

    .

    Here is a graph from page 14 of the NAS report on Mann et als work. It does not resemble the Hockey Stick graph. It is the smoothed graph of data that is far more trustworthy for determining temperature than Mann et als method:

    .

    And this is from page 21 of the NAS report:

    Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    Science does not support that the Mann Hockey Stick graph is an accurate record of temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period.

    I know you will go on promoting the Mann graph Wren. I am seeing that you are an advocate for global warming and not an unbiased person.

    I did not write all of this for you but for readers who are looking for the truth. I hope they read the entire NAS report for themselves and see that the Mann et al graph is not to be trusted as accurate temperature data.

    link to the NAS report:

    http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11676&page=R1

  154. Austin (12:08:51) :

    D. Patterson (12:40:19) :

    I know this is way off topic, but do either of you know if Indians in the area that is now the Contiguous 48 practiced human sacrifice similar to the Mayans?

  155. It’s always Marcia, Marcia (16:21:40): You are trying to produce a list of reason why there would be an increase from 800–1300 AD but your list didn’t include the Medieval Warm Period. Is this because you want to say there was no Medieval Warm Period?

    Marcia, Marcia. I said (18:55:01) that I accept the MWP, but on the basis of Greenland ice cores, not fire scars. Consider this: Swetnam said that over the last 3,000 years the highest fire frequency was from 800 to 1300 AD. Therefore the fire scar evidence fails to record the Roman Warm Period, which the ice cores indicate was even warmer than the MWP.

    So if you believe the fire scars recorded global temperatures, that must mean you deny the Roman Warm Period. Is that what you’re saying?

  156. Wygart (14:27:07) :

    “Thus the potential nutritive value that the deadfall represents to the forest and the sequoias themselves is only slowly returned to back to the soil and that therefore it is reasonable to wonder where, [aside from needle fall and cones], where all of the nutrient inputs to the ecosystem are.”

    In my understanding, most plant nutrient comes from the air and water via photosynthesis: 6CO2 + 6H20 = C6H12O6 + 6O2.

    The glucose from photosynthesis is further metabolised to produce the substance of the plant – cellulose, starch, fats, enzymes, structural proteins, Nucleic acid, and so on.

    The H2O comes from ground water, and the only other stuff from the ground comes as fertilizer – natural or artificial. Minority but essential elements like N, P and K etc. get in this way (though N can also come from bacteria in root nodules for legumes, for example).

    I suspect a lot of what is needed in the way of fertiliser in a wild wood could indeed come from leaf and tree fall. And also, I suppose, wood ash from burning?

    So apparently, the majestic sequoia is mainly the product of CO2 and water, with just a soupcon of other essential ingredients. And, since we are at the end of a food chain beginning with plants, we too are generated mainly by CO2 and water.

    Miraculous, isn’t it? Life is a process of turning air and water and very little else into all the critters that teem on earth.

    Even AGW supporters :-)

  157. Amino Acids in Meteorites (19:41:27) :
    I know this is way off topic, but do either of you know if Indians in the area that is now the Contiguous 48 practiced human sacrifice similar to the Mayans?

    Human sacrifice was practiced by the Amerindian cultures inhabiting the present day CONUS (Continental United States). The extent to which the human sacrifices were similar to and different from the Mayan, Aztec, and other Mesoamerican practices is subjective and arguable.

  158. Mike D. (20:17:25) :

    The reality and the task of recognizing the differences between fire origins may be much more complex and difficult than everyone first assumes. It is noted by the USFS that the sought for benefits of a fire may not be feasible until and unless the red flag weather or climate conditions are already present to support a fire that is hot enough to achieve the goals of the burn. If so, the same could be true of the Amerindian fires, which could make the task of recognizing a natural versus artificial fire that much more difficult.

    Williams, Gerald W., Ph.D. ABORIGINAL USE OF FIRE: ARE THERE ANY “NATURAL” PLANT COMMUNITIES? Historical Analyst, USDA Forest Service, National Office, Washington, D.C. 20090-6090; June 17, 2002.

    http://www.wy.blm.gov/fireuse/pubs/AboriginalFireUse.pdf

    Anderson, M. Kat. Indian Fire-Based Management in the Sequoia-Mixed Conifer Forests of the Central and Southern Sierra Nevada. Final contract report submitted to Yosemite Research; 1993.

  159. Kevin (00:04:36) :

    I bet 1200 AD was a great time to be alive.

    As long as you kept your head.

  160. The two contenders in the “battle of the graphs” above do not compare like with like.

    Mann’s hockey stick is a reconstruction of global temperature anomalies.

    The so-called “historical view” is NOT of anomalies – but of purported temperatutes and only in Europe (as others have pointed out).

    To get closer to like for like, at least “anomalise” the data in the second chart.

    Incidentally, what does either (global/European) have to do with these new tree -ring data from the Sierra Nevada?

  161. @T McLaughlin

    If you carefully read the legends on the graphs, they explicitly state what they represent.
    Since Mann’s graph shows alleged anomalies ‘relative to 1960-90′
    it should not be difficult to discern how the temperature record in graph 2
    does not support (or is not supported by – take your pick) Mann’s graph.

    “Incidentally, what does either (global/European) have to do with these new tree -ring data from the Sierra Nevada?”

    What the new data provides is evidence that perhaps the MWP was truly global and not limited to Europe. For a proper examination of the significance of this point, I suggest you read: “The `Hockey Stick': A New Low in Climate Science” by the late John L. Daly
    (http://www.john-daly.com/hockey/hockey.htm)

    As Daly argues: “To disprove the `Hockey Stick’, it is sufficient to merely demonstrate conclusively the existence of the Medieval Warm Period and/or the Little Ice Age in proxy and/or historical evidence from around the world. According to the `falsifiability’ principle of science, substantial physical evidence that contradicts a theory is sufficient to `falsify’ that theory. To that end, `exhibits’ of physical evidence are presented below to prove that not only is the `Hockey Stick’ false, but that the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age were not only very real – but also global in extent.”

    That is the point.

  162. Correction: What the new data provides is additional evidence that perhaps the MWP was truly global and not limited to Europe.

  163. Amino Acids in Meteorites (19:41:27) :
    I know this is way off topic, but do either of you know if Indians in the area that is now the Contiguous 48 practiced human sacrifice similar to the Mayans?

    In Mound 72 of the Cahokia Mounds Wikapedia states the following was found:

    1.)Four young males, missing their hands and skulls.
    2.)A mass grave of more than 50 women around 21 years old, with the bodies arranged in two layers separated by matting.
    3.)A mass burial containing 40 men and women who appear to have been violently killed. The suggestion has been made that some of these were buried alive: “From the vertical position of some of the fingers, which appear to have been digging in the sand, it is apparent that not all of the victims were dead when they were interred – that some had been trying to pull themselves out of the mass of bodies.”

    It is of course dangerous to judge an entire culture on a single leader, who may represent a sort of Adolf Hitler of his time.

    Many cultures go through a rise, period of stability, and then period of decline. It is a great error to imagine such cultures did not go through great changes. In the case oif the Mississpean Mound Builders, or the Vikings in Greenland, we are talking about periods of hundreds of years, and changes in climate from the MWP to the start of the LIA, and the culture at the end may have been utterly different from what the culture was like at the start. (Justr look at how much the USA has changed the last four generations. In my grandgfather’s time over half of us were farmers.)

    At the start growing corn was very liberating, giving people free time. However as the population grew the diet contained less and less variety, and growing corn may have become a liability. The size of skelitons at some mound-builder sites indicate a shrunken people, smaller than the Native Americans who followed the demise of that culture at those sites. However other mound builder sites apparently adjusted, and cultures improved, and still were in existance when the great pandemic occurred.

    In regard to some comments on this site which belittle the Americans at that time because they lacked the wheel and horses, it should be stated there was trade from the Rockies to the east coast, and from Minnisota to the Gulf of Mexico. This is shown by copper and sea-shells found far from their mines and shores.

    However perhaps the neatest example of the trade-trails of Indians is the saga of David Ingrams, who was a volentary castaway, from the Damaged English ship “Minion,” in 1568. He was set ashore on the east coast of Mexico, and walked from there to Nova Scotia, where he hitched a ride back to Europe aboard a French fishing boat.

    Many have scorned what we retain of David Ingram’s testimony as merely a sailor’s exaggerations, and some of his testimony may indeed be hyperbole, however I think a lot is an accurate picture of what the pre-pandemic Native civilizations were like.

    Anyone who seeks to wander very far off topic should check out this American Heritage article, titaled “The Longest Walk.”

    http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1979/3/1979_3_4.shtml

  164. Ian McLeod: ‘Far from causing us to become more violent, something in modernity and its cultural institutions has made us nobler.’

    In my opinion, that something goes under the name ‘Christianity’.

  165. Pascvaks (14:32:40) : “Anthony, Seems like there’s a fair amount of interest in Pre-Columbian Native American population. When the weather breaks, might be nice to have a guest post by someone who really knows something about the subject.”

    Pascvaks, I think you have the best of the best — minds and arguments and research — right here on WUWT. No surpise because that is what Anthony, Moderators, Contributors, Commenters do all the time. Great thread for insights into recent research in a variety of scientific fields. Enneagram even snuck (?) in a little “earthquakes and solar minima” material (3/18-07:56:35). Happy Birthday, Charles the Mod.

  166. Well that one photo of a Sequoia crossection; tells us more than just about the Sierra Nevada Fires.

    Anyone who believes that tree rings are a valid proxy for temperature, moisture, CO2, wind, whatever (except age) just needs to see that one photograph.

    If you core bored that very tree at zero, 45, or 90 degrees, as in N, NE, E, you would get totally different results.

    So any single bored core of a tree taken at some height, and some radial direction, is a one dimensional look at a three dimensional object, and with just a single core, it would fail the Nyquist Sampling Criterion.

    So count the rings for age; but nyet, on any of that other stuff. If they hadn’t killed this tree, they wouldn’t have found that evidence.

  167. There may be a some degree of correlation between the MWP and the cultural periods of the Anasazi culture. Their communities appear to have flourished with improved agriculture and habitation consistent with a warmer and wetter climate. Then they appear to have abandoned some of their magnificent pueblos complete with pottery and moved south at about the time when the climate turned colder and the mega-droughts disrupted agriculture.

  168. Brian D Finch (06:49:55) :

    “If you carefully read the legends on the graphs, they explicitly state what they represent”

    I have done that and KNOW what they represent. My concern id with casual readers who look at the two graphs and believe them to be different representations of the same thing.

    Willis Eschenbach makes amends here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/18/more-on-the-national-geographic-decline/#more-17466

    He compares anomalies with anaomalies -which is as it should be.

  169. Mike D said: “Denial of the existence and basic humanity of people is the worst form of denial — right? Denial of American aboriginal populations and influences is equivalent to denial of Hitler’s Holocaust. It is an evil thing.”

    So, following the Holocaust and AGW, you have now added yet another subject to the list that is to be considered beyond question and verboten to investigate. Where exactly do you, and those like you (i.e., post-normal “scientists”), intend to stop with these forbidden subjects, Mike? (And BTW, I doubt if many Jews would be happy with your equation of the questioning of the numbers of native Americans and their cultural achievements with the Nazi death camps.)

    Also, you seem to have carved yourself a nice little niche in this debate where you can think of yourself as both intellectually and morally superior to all sides. You are obviously a legend in your own mind.

  170. Digsby, it is you who suggest that certain subjects should be taboo. I am merely pointing out that real denial, of humanity, is something other than global warming denial.

    Let’s take this a step at a time. Climate realists, like me, take huge offense at being called “deniers” because of the connotation with Holocaust deniers. There really was a Holocaust. Hitler really did murder 6,000,000 innocent people.

    The Holocaust is not a forbidden subject to me. I think it should be studied, reported, and NEVER forgotten. There are lessons there for all human kind to learn.

    Similarly, human habitation of the Americas for the last 12,000+ years really happened. I think that subject should be studied, reported, and the findings not denied. Millions of people lived here. The pre-Columbian population suffered a 95% collapse when Old World diseases were introduced. Many refer to that as “the American Holocaust.” There are lessons there for everyone, including Jewish people, and including you.

    Do you see, Digsby, that I am not forbidding the study of history — I am encouraging it. But you take umbrage at that. I think you are confused.

    I am not a “post-normal scientist” anymore than you are a complete idiot mouthing cliches who cannot grasp what others have written. I suggest you calm down and go read all the comments above carefully, with maximum comprehension effort. Try to concentrate on what was actually written. I know you can do it.

  171. Fellows,

    The alarm that 4.4*C causes 34 more murders per 100,000 seems easily refutable. Plot murder rates versus average temperatures/min temperatures/max temperatures for major cities across NAmerica and Europe. It seems ludicrous. Are statisticians losing track of reasonableness? Canada has more than 4.4*C differences between cities and has no such remarkable heat-related crime levels, in fact, has no such alarming crime rate! Pray tell what is going on?

Comments are closed.