Climate Change, Baltic Herring And The Reformation?

Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball –


Baltic Herring –

The Pope claims climate change is threatening the world and urges action to stop global warming. Many debate his motive, because the major objective of his new partners is reduced population through abortions and birth control, which contradict Catholic teaching. There is another possible motive, the impact of climate change on the church in history. The greatest challenge to the Catholic Church was the Protestant Reformation started in 1517 by Martin Luther and culminating in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia. Two basic situations trigger revolutions, failure of the food supply and leaders who refuse to answer to the people. Both triggered the Reformation revolution and resulted from climate change – global cooling.

A major, reliable, source of food is central to a strong economy. Surplus food creates surplus time and societies use that time to create economies. As Allan Savory noted,

“Without agriculture it is not possible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy.”

It is important to remember that an Agricultural Revolution preceded the Industrial Revolution.

Many civilizations are built on enhanced food supply and fishing. The Hanseatic League, (Figure 1) is a classic example.

“The Hanseatic League (also known as the Hansa) was an alliance of trading guilds that established and maintained a trade monopoly along the coast of Northern Europe, from the Baltic to the North Sea, during the Late Middle Ages and Early modern period (circa thirteenth–seventeenth centuries).”


Figure I

The region is a good agricultural region, but the herring fishery in the Baltic contributed greatly to the food supply and the economy. As one authority claimed,

“The Scandinavian herring fishery of medieval times may have been the most influential fishery in history.”

The expansion of the herring fisheries began during the Medieval Warm Period and quickly became economically and religiously important.

“In 1202 the Danes captured all the most important citizens of Lübeck and the cities fleet at Scania, while they attended the autumn trading at the Baltic herring fishery in the Sound. That the Danes were able to exploit the annual trade fairs to seize the entire merchant elite and the merchant fleet of Lübeck, attests to the importance of the herring trade in the Baltic and Europe in the medieval period.”

“As salted Scandinavian herring become recognized as a high quality product that was relatively cheap and easy to produce, the fishery literally exploded in the late 13th century. With populations of herring so rich that some writers referred to them as being able to be “caught by the bare hands”, the fishery grew to more than 35,000 fishermen, and fed a good portion of Western Europe. The demand for herring was so high, that the customs registers of some towns, such as Lubeck, Germany where the herring fishery came to be based, indicated herring as the most important trade item in some years. As trade in herring increased, so did other commerce. Markets for herring soon expanded to include other goods and created trade ties between East and West.”


The economic development is understandable but what made the herring fisheries more influential than any other? The answer is a religion.

“Saltwater fish had long been part of the diet of the people living around the Baltic Sea as demonstrated by archaeological finds, and by the eighth and ninth centuries a large scale trade in herring had developed in the region. From the ninth century the steady advance of Christianity in Europe produced a new and increasing market as eating habits changed in accordance with the regulations for fasting that required the laity to abstain from meat for as many as 182 days in the year. Herring proved an ideal substitute. Gutting, removing the head, and preserving in salt could extend its shelf life for up to two years. It could be transported for long distances. And above all, it was cheap. The religious requirement for abstinence created a demand for fish that could not be met all year round by freshwater resources in inland Europe and ocean fish, and in particular herring, fulfilled this need in abundance.”

Historians provide reasons for the decline of the League, but generally overlook changes in nature, including climate. This is not surprising because they see humans as active agents in nature, not as passive recipients of natural changes. One reason for this is what they see as the dark shadow of climatic determinism, the paradoxical, anti-Darwinian view that nature does not control human behavior. Here is one set of human reasons.

“The individual cities which made up the League had also started to put self-interest before their common Hansa interests. Finally the political authority of the German princes had started to grow — and so to constrain the independence of action which the merchants and Hanseatic towns had enjoyed.”

Followed by another that at least makes oblique reference to fish stocks.

“Such actions led to the English, Flemings and Dutch developing the North Sea fisheries and their direct trade with Prussian cities more strenuously which, exacerbated by a fluctuation in herring stocks in the Sound, marked the beginning of a long period of decline for the Baltic fisheries as a trans-regional trade centre with the last Scania fairs being held in 1658.”

The change was more than “fluctuations”, it was a steady decline in the Baltic herring stock as conditions changed. Notice the dates on the map are 1267 – 1669 A.D, which covers the period of temperature decline from the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) to the nadir of the Little Ice Age (LIA). (Figure 2).

Figure 7c in the 1990 IPCC Report provides a reasonable approximation of temperature trends for the period of existence of the Hanseatic League.


Figure 2: Source: After 7c IPCC (1990)

H.H. Lamb explains the mechanisms and provides extensive examples of the changing global weather conditions from the MWP to the LIA (pages 440 to 473 in Volume 2, Climate, Present, Past and Future). It identifies the proxy evidence of declining temperatures, increasing precipitation and storminess, associated with a southward shift of the circumpolar vortex.

“The general turn towards colder climates from A.D. 1200-1400 onwards, accompanied by shifts of the zones of most cyclonic activity as the polar cap and the circumpolar vortex expanded, and which in the seventeenth century seems to have produced a world-wide cold stage.”

On pages 451-452 Lamb itemizes nine indicators of,

“The course of the climatic deterioration over five centuries from A.D.1200…”

Item 4 says,

“Increasing wetness of the ground and spread of lakes and marshes in many places in northern, western, and central Europe (and it is thought all over northern Russia and Siberia.)”

Item 7 records,

“In the records of harvest failures, rising prices of wheat and bread, famines, tithes and taxes remissions (sometimes with reasons given.”

All these changes impacted the Baltic Sea in significant ways. Even though connected to the North Sea it is essentially a landlocked body of water (Figure 3).

“The Baltic is a large semi-enclosed sea with positive freshwater balance and restricted water exchange both with the Kattegat and between the interior sub-basins.”

The Baltic Sea is a unique sea area. Even though the Danish straits connect it to the Atlantic Ocean, its salinity is very low (only about one fifth of the salinity of the oceans).  The Baltic Sea is also shallow. Its average depth is about 54 metres,”


Figure 3

Temperature is a critical variable for fish. However, salinity is important for saltwater species like the Baltic herring.

The annual mean salinity in three different depth intervals decreased with around l psu during the period 1977-1990. It is found that this was due to an increased freshwater supply. The increased freshwater supply also impeded the import of saltwater from the Kattegat, thereby decreasing the salinity in the deeper parts of the Baltic Sea. It is argued that the changed vertical distribution of salt within the Baltic Sea in the same period was partly due to increased vertical mixing.


“At specific locations within the Baltic Sea, thermoclines and haloclines can create rapid spatial and temporal changes in temperature (T) and salinity (S) exceeding 10°C and 9 psu with seasonal ranges in temperature exceeding 20°C.”

Despite this, the herring evolved to the conditions.

“Due to its wide salinity tolerance range, Baltic herring is able to live and reproduce in almost every part of the Baltic Sea despite of the varying environment.”

However, as a result

“…the abundance and biomass of herring fluctuate from time to time even strongly.”

Ironically, in a study for global warming,

“Substantial ecological changes occurred in the 1970s in the Northern Baltic during a temporary period of low salinity (S). This period was preceded by an episodic increase in the rainfall over the Baltic Sea watershed area.”


“The results suggest a critical shift in the S range 5–7, which is a threshold for both freshwater and marine species distributions and diversity.”

It appears that by the 16th-century conditions deteriorated as a combination of increased inflow, due to higher precipitation including snowfall and reduced evaporation that caused temperature and salinity levels to fall below even the herring’s tolerance. Harvest and fishing failures combined to create economic collapse, famine, population decline, and power struggles.

“At the start of the sixteenth century the League found itself in a weaker position than it had known for many years. The rising Swedish Empire had taken control of much of the Baltic…. The individual cities which made up the League had also started to put self-interest before their common Hansa interests. Finally the political authority of the German princes had started to grow — and so to constrain the independence of action which the merchants and Hanseatic towns had enjoyed.”


As these events unfolded, the Catholic Church increased the cost of Indulgences. Purchase an Indulgence for the remission of severe penances and you eased and accelerated the path to heaven. They were the Medieval equivalent of carbon credits, especially as they benefited the rich. They were Martin Luther’s first complaint.

Besides lack of food, the people could not obtain the fish essential to practice their faith, that is,

“the regulations for fasting that required the laity to abstain from meat for as many as 182 days in the year.”

Generally immune to these deprivations German Princes also did not care that most peasants could not afford indulgences. Although their political power increased the economic downturn impacted them, so the Princes apparently found indulgence costs becoming onerous. Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, a city located in the heart of the Hanseatic League.

It is possible the Princes allowed Luther’s revolution because of the economic conditions. Not only did the church demand more money for indulgences but also they spent it profligately. As Luther’s Thesis 86 notes,

“Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of Saint Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”


Pope Leo X responded to Luther with an Encyclical Exsurge Domine (Arise O Lord). Its final exhortation is remarkably similar to Pope Francis’ condemnation of climate skeptics.

“If, however, this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices, much to our regret, should stubbornly not comply with the mentioned stipulations within the mentioned period, we shall, following the teaching of the holy Apostle Paul, who teaches us to avoid a heretic after having admonished him for a first and a second time, condemn this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices as barren vines which are not in Christ, preaching an offensive doctrine contrary to the Christian faith and offend the divine majesty, to the damage and shame of the entire Christian Church, and diminish the keys of the Church as stubborn and public heretics.”


If Pope Francis knew climate history, he would pray for warming or at least a continuance of current conditions to continue as global cooling caused serious problems in the past.

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July 18, 2015 11:14 am

“If Pope Francis knew climate history, he would pray for warming or at least a continuance of current conditions to continue as global cooling caused serious problems in the past.”
That is assuming that the Pope is not hoping for a great event to remove about 6 Billion people from the earth to get to the “sustainable” one billion souls on earth. As a bonus, if the world had a single, socialist government after the great die-off — I wager the Pope would find that to be even better.
I am afraid our Pope is very, very misguided on what is best for humanity. Thanks be to God that the Pope is pretty irrelevant in this debate.

July 18, 2015 11:16 am

We should rename it the Vatican’t.

Reply to  Max Photon
July 18, 2015 1:43 pm

Amen, Reverend P!

M Courtney
July 18, 2015 11:36 am

England wasn’t only creating competition with the North Sea fisheries but also with the fisheries off Newfoundland.
The climate link sounds plausible but there was a lot going on at the time.
Climatology, economics and history are not simple subjects.

Tim Ball
Reply to  M Courtney
July 18, 2015 12:59 pm

A red herring?

July 18, 2015 11:52 am

I appreciate the expressed introduction of Agriculture combined with Natural Climate Change as important ingredients for drivers of the human travails/adaptation..

July 18, 2015 11:56 am

The Popes final exhortation is one of if not the longest sentence I have ever seen.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  mkelly
July 18, 2015 12:13 pm

“longest sentence I have ever seen”.
try reading Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History or eusebius life of constantine
long long sentences, in the original latin.

July 18, 2015 12:00 pm

…the fishery literally exploded in the late 13th century.

How many people were killed?

Reply to  Mark and two Cats
July 18, 2015 12:42 pm

How many soles were lost?

Reply to  Gamecock
July 18, 2015 7:27 pm

They overfished just for the halibut…..

Reply to  Gamecock
July 18, 2015 9:11 pm

Not nearly enough!

Pamela Gray
Reply to  Mark and two Cats
July 18, 2015 2:16 pm

I see a Herringnado trilogy coming to theaters near you.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Pamela Gray
July 18, 2015 3:24 pm

Nice one.

Mike the Morlock
July 18, 2015 12:34 pm

Dr. Tim Ball
Interesting read, lots of activity going on at the time. The time period you use exceeds the existence of th U.S.A. Drawing economic and social trends is difficult. One individual can brake or change one of these trends.

Pamela Gray
July 18, 2015 12:44 pm

Benevolent interference is decidedly non-God like. With what history demonstrates, it is quite apparent that individual and group struggle along with learned wisdom and earned reward, is what is best for human longevity and security. And those who insist on being a benevolent interference with that struggle stand in the way of what is best for humans. I am certainly not against coming to the aid of say, a persecuted people, as long as those people start the fight and they fight for the protection of innocents, individual freedoms and equality.
To be blunt, the Pope’s recommendations are at odds with what makes God’s creation strong and able. So I say to him: Butt out.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
July 18, 2015 4:16 pm

As my 88 year old father has always admonished: let people be.

Reply to  Max Photon
July 19, 2015 12:38 pm

Care to name his wife?

Reply to  Max Photon
July 19, 2015 12:40 pm

Ah, “my father” – never mind.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
July 19, 2015 5:29 am

What is good for one could be deadly for another, and neither Pope’s “benevolent” interference nor Pamela Gray’s “history-demonstrated” truisms are welcome, especially among those who experienced the “benevolence based on the (Marxist) lessons of history” firsthand. Thanks but no thanks.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  Alexander Feht
July 19, 2015 7:10 am

The error of benevolent interference ends in a fubar.

July 18, 2015 1:00 pm

Interesting article. I guess Ad Hominem has been practised as long as people have been around, and Pope Leo X was not averse to using it.

July 18, 2015 1:50 pm

There is a small problem with this:
“Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, a city located in the heart of the Hanseatic League.”
The heart of the Hanseatic League was the Hamburg-Lübeck area. Wittenberg never even joined the Hanseatic League

Tim Ball
Reply to  jarlgeir
July 18, 2015 2:52 pm

I didn’t say it was the heart of the League. The point is it was geographically at the heart as the word “located” indicates.

Reply to  Tim Ball
July 19, 2015 7:15 am

Geographically Wittenberg is located nowhere near areas important to the Hanseatic League. Not “located in the heart” nor anywhere near “the heart of the League.” Both are accurate quotes from the next you did write.
Otherwise a perfectly good essay.
When the sun is changing our climate by altering the temperature of the Baltic, this will affect the local economy since fish will relocate elsewhere.

Reply to  Tim Ball
July 19, 2015 4:05 pm

“Geographically Wittenberg is located nowhere near areas important to the Hanseatic League.”
At first I thought you might have a point, but your map actually refutes your point. Magdeburg IS a league city located as the crow flies 50 miles from Wittenberg and both are on the Elbe river. Luther’s teachings had a profound effect on Magdeburg

Louis Hunt
July 18, 2015 1:54 pm

What I don’t understand is why the Pope is calling for the creation of a secular global authority to enforce, among other things, climate and environmental regulations, immigration, and the redistribution of resources to the poor. Once you give a global entity, like the UN, the power to enforce those things in all nations of the world, you have given them the power to do whatever they want. What makes the Pope think these world authorities will always be incorruptible saints? What would stop them from seeking their own self interest by abusing their mandate to enrich themselves on the backs of the poor? Even Popes are not immune from such corruption, as the actions of Pope Leo and others demonstrated. So why would anyone trust a secular global power to do more good than evil? It seems so naive to me. Doesn’t world history clearly warn us against such foolishness?

Sceptical Sam
Reply to  Louis Hunt
July 20, 2015 2:28 am

Indeed it does. As does Machiavelli. (The Prince. “Why the kingdom of Darius did not rebel”.)

July 18, 2015 3:30 pm

Australian Cardinal, George Pell:
19 July: Sydney Morning Herald: Kerrie Armstrong: Cardinal George Pell criticises Pope Francis over climate change stance
Cardinal Pell, a well-known climate change skeptic, told the Financial Times the church had “no particular expertise in science”.
“The church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters,” he said.
“We believe in the autonomy of science.”…
Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Pell to reform the Vatican’s finances nearly 18 months ago.
19 July: Financial Times: Reformer tries to bring light to closed world of Vatican finance
by Rachel Sanderson and James Politi in Vatican City
In an environment known for palace intrigue, he has had to stare down fierce resistance from within the Curia, the mostly Italian Vatican bureaucracy, as he undertakes the daunting task of trying to clean up the Catholic Church’s murky finances…
He has also distanced himself from the Pope’s groundbreaking encyclical letter last month calling for global action on climate change.
“It’s got many, many interesting elements. There are parts of it which are beautiful,” he says. “But the church has no particular expertise in science . . . the church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters. We believe in the autonomy of science,” added Cardinal Pell, who has been criticised for being a climate change sceptic.
However, Cardinal Pell also said the encyclical, called “Laudato Si”, was “very well received” and the Pope had “beautifully set out our obligations to future generations and our obligations to the environment”…

Reply to  pat
July 18, 2015 5:42 pm

Cardinal Pell is not someone I would care to associate with.
His only priority is damage control for the church, never mind the innocents who have been harmed by priests under his control.

Sceptical Sam
Reply to  Felflames
July 20, 2015 2:34 am

I think you need to check your facts on that Felflames.
I’m no apologist for the Catholic Church or for George Pell (and nor am I a Catholic) however, it was Pell who was the first to bring the Catholic Church in Australia to face up to its crimes and the responsibilities it had flowing from those crimes. The process may have been flawed but Pell got the ball rolling.

Charles Erwin Wilson
Reply to  Felflames
July 20, 2015 6:28 pm

Nice attempt Felflames, but shifting the focus is irrelevant to the topic at hand. Your attempt to do so implicitly concedes defeat. Address the topic at hand, or abstain from needless distraction.The fate of humanity is at stake, and you are contributing to humanity’s demise.

Reply to  pat
July 19, 2015 5:27 am

I am a Catholic and the Pope is an idiot. Two truths in one sentence.
I think Francis may go off to a monastery for life with the creatures of earth, stream and sky, and Cardinal Pell may be Pope for those of us who live in the real world.

July 18, 2015 3:55 pm

As many readers here have pointed out the issue is not climate change. As my 4th grade teacher pointed out in the fifties we are emerging from and ice age so a warming trend is not unexpected until the earth cycles again toward a new ice age. If human kind is to achieve freedom from want and a clean and prosperous industry the main secret is economical energy and lots of it.
One of the key contributions of the fossil fuel industry is to provide the energy and the industrial platform to grow the labor, skills, and technology required to make the leap to the NEXT energy regime which will provide for us. Back in the old days everybody knew this would be nuclear through a succession of technologies and eventually thermonuclear fusion. The human race was on its way to the stars! That was before Malthusians and environmentalists declared war on the very idea of progress. They were only elaborating on ideas that had always been kicking around in the company of Royalists and Jacobins; the place where so called “right” and “left” meet.
It’s stunning to see so many talented, educated people discussing wind and solar as anything more than a curiosity which may have small applications for projects far away from the grid. We need power and lots of it if we are planning on building a future worth having. That’s true no matter how climate future develops.

July 18, 2015 5:08 pm

Geographical and other changes were huge in northern regions toward the end of medieval times, especially in the wake of the Grote Mandrenke storm of 1362.
Two maps of the Dutch coast showing change between 500 AD and 1555 AD.
Schlweswig coast, 13th and 17th centuries compared:
Seems to have been an awful lot of changing climate well before Climate Change. An awful lot.

Brett Keane
Reply to  mosomoso
July 19, 2015 3:16 pm

Might they be falling, as Scandinavia and maybe the Alps, rebound? Same as East Anglia?

John M. Ware
July 18, 2015 6:24 pm

The article seems to assume that Luther’s motivation derived from secular political causes. Even a cursory reading of his writings (beginning, perhaps, with the 95 Theses) reveals that his entire motivation was theological, with the welfare of the people depending upon a right reading of Scripture. The papal indulgences did, indeed, affect the poor and lower middle classes more than the rich; but Luther’s issue with them was that indulgences (and the supposed benefit therefrom for the purchasers) were unscriptural–indeed, anti-scriptural–and were placing the souls of the people in jeopardy.

Reply to  John M. Ware
July 19, 2015 12:01 am

Dr. Ball’s lead up the statement, “It is possible the Princes allowed Luther’s revolution because of the economic conditions,” only impugned the princes’ motivations.

Alan Robertson
July 18, 2015 7:14 pm

This has been a very enjoyable thread. Thanks Dr. Ball and commenters.

July 18, 2015 8:17 pm

The Little Ice Age really started with the first “Wolf” Grand Solar Minimum from 1280~1350.
The Wolf GSM was an exteremly cold period marked by numerous famines resulting from late springs and early falls, frost crop failures, death from exposure from brutal winters, frozen rivers and ports that inhibited trade, etc.
It’s estimated that the severe cold during the Wolf GSM wiped out 25% of the European population, followed by the Black Death in 1352, which wiped out another 50% of the remaining European population….
The Catholic Church exploited these natural climatic and pandemic disasters by blaming them on man’s spiraling depravity and demanded higher indulgences to appease God, which is similar to what the Catholic Church is doing with its recent CAGW encyclical and condemnation of capitalism…
As a side note, it would be interesting to evaluate naval records during the Wolf GSM to see how far South Arctic Ice Extents extended. I would assume they increased greatly, which would have decreased fishing in northern latitudes of the Atlantic an Arctic oceans and put further pressure to overfish in lower latitudes of the Atlantic and Baltic Sea areas.

Reply to  SAMURAI
July 19, 2015 12:27 am

The Gulf of Bothnia, which is the northern part of the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland, is an interesting body of water because it isn’t all that salty. In some places fresh water fish can swim down into the Baltic Sea without being harmed. This also means that in the winter that part of the Baltic Sea freezes up more quickly than you’d expect, because the “sea” is practically fresh.
I imagine that the warmer and drier climate of the MWP would have increased the salinity of the Gulf of Bothnia, for evaporation would have been greater even as less fresh water poured down into the gulf through northern streams. This in turn would have changed the environment the herring were reproducing in.
When I lived by the sea I saw some amazing swings in the population of fish, and other sea creatures, and always wondered what triggered such ups and downs. It would be interesting to study the herring of the Baltic, (and in fact will start tomorrow, if some Sugar Daddy supplies the grant money.)
Herring swim up into fresh water to breed, so when the Little Ice Age first brought more rains it might have increased the herring’s range. However after some optimum was passed both the range and population might decline.
And yes, it makes a huge difference if people can make a living or not. The entire landscape of New Hampshire changed, simply because the vehicles in the big cities to the south went from being powered by hay in 1900 to gasoline in 1920.

July 18, 2015 9:00 pm

WHAT are the Polar Bears going to do the ABC are using the same old photo as it did years ago.

Reply to  tango
July 18, 2015 9:20 pm
Reply to  tango
July 18, 2015 10:15 pm

It’s too bad the empirical evidence shows Polar Bear populations have increased from about 5,000 in the 1950’s to about 30,000 now….
In some areas of the Arctic, sea ice has become too thick for Polar Bears to hunt… Oh, my…
It’s also interesting that Arctic Sea Ice Extents have increased steadily since 2007, and may soon be approaching early 2000’s levels in the coming years, likely caused by the approaching AMO 30-yr cool cycle, which will start in the early 2020’s….

Reply to  SAMURAI
July 19, 2015 12:35 am

This is a great site for news about polar bears, without the media bunkum.

July 19, 2015 3:47 am

This encyclical, stupid though it is, is to keep congregations in churchs growing. As people develop they tend to rely on themselves instead of the church. Any church hates diminishing of its power.

July 19, 2015 5:07 am

Why was it necessary to quote Allan Savory (may 30 thousand elephants sit on his soul in afterlife), especially if what he said is a platitude unworthy of repetition?

July 19, 2015 5:12 am

One of the most important factors that allowed the Protestant Church to win the support of the State in Northern Europe was very down to Earth: Lutheran priests promised and gave princes control over huge real estate, and all revenue from it, that belonged to the Catholic Church. Church is all about money, and priests are as greedy as princes.

July 19, 2015 5:21 am

What the fishermen in the North of the Baltic, in the Bay and Sea of Bothnia needed was salt. What someone discovered was that if the fish starts to ferment if not enough salt was added for preservation and put into tree barrows, it was still posible to eat. That way, they could save in on salt and save money. Thus, the dish of “Surströmming” or Fermented Herring was invented.
It’s the most sticking food in existence in the world as this video shows.

Mayor of Venus
July 19, 2015 1:28 pm

Nice title “Climate change, Baltic herring, and the Reformation”. I’ve long noticed that titles of books or articles that combine 3 apparently unrelated topics stoke one’s curiosity.

Reply to  Mayor of Venus
July 19, 2015 3:47 pm

the “Rule of Three” is fundamental in getting the message across.
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
liberty, equality, and fraternity
snap, crackle, pop

July 19, 2015 1:42 pm

Here’s an analysis of how anthropogene activities in the Baltic and the North Sea could affect the weather in the region (and not only….): I think that the effect of stirring is something we should think about.

Brett Keane
July 19, 2015 3:39 pm

As the herring head south, the cod species should come down. I believe this is started, any news on that?

July 20, 2015 6:37 am

I think the evidence is fairly clear to anyone interested in Climate History. The change over from a warm to cold climate produces more storms, precipitation, and generally more crop failures than a change over from cold to warm. Dr Ball’s article illustrates this rather convincingly.

July 20, 2015 1:11 pm

” The greatest challenge to the Catholic Church was the Protestant Reformation started in 1517 by Martin Luther and culminating in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia.”
The Protestant Reformation was animated mainly by the translation of the Scriptures into the common spoken languages, which Martin Luther also did.
This was in violation of a Papal Bull in c. 1200 forbidding the translation of the Bible out of Latin. Translation of the Bible was a capital crime. Many paid with their lives.
Subsequently, the Protestant countries emphasized literacy for all, not just a restricted caste in a prestige language, so that anyone could read the scriptures, know the true text, and not be under the heavy yoke and bondage of the Roman priests and monastics. This is analogous in science to having the data and not just an adjusted and re-interpreted version from a class of expert practitioners.
For contrast, compare protestant nations to previous Roman Church colonies, such as the South American countries. The Roman colonies have all suffered under peonage and illiteracy under the Roman system. Protestant countries have unleashed the genius and innovation of the common people through literacy, freedom of conscience, and private property.
This is why the Protestant countries achieved such great innovations. The founding of the Jesuits was the Roman response to the Reformation. The order’s purpose is to bring all of its lost powers and land back to the Pontifex Maximus of Rome.
The Jesuits have involved themselves deeply in educational institutions all over the world, and in media. No one knows how many there are for certain, and many have also embedded themselves in protestant churches and seminaries. It is an anti-reformation order, and over the centuries it has been banned from many countries because of the intrigues and power it wields. In this day, it is helpful to understand who the Jesuits are and what lengths they will go to destroy Protestants and undo all of those accomplishments, in order to subject all to Rome. It helps me to remember what Y’shua said to the Roman who was trying Him: “You would have no power at all over Me unless it were given to you from God.” He also said, “This is your hour.”

July 26, 2015 3:59 pm

Thank you Tim for another interesting article.
I visited the City of Lubeck on my first trip to Germany in July of 1989. Lubeck was a centre of the Hanseatic League and became wealthy trading salt with its neighbours all around the Baltic Sea, locally called Die Ostsee. Old Lubeck on the island is endlessly fascinating and well worth a visit.
Lubeck remains my favorite city in German – I must return there one day.
Best to all, Allan
The Old Salt Route was a medieval trade route in northern Germany, one of the ancient network of salt roads which were used primarily for the transport of salt and other staples. In Germany it was referred to as Alte Salzstraße.
Salt was very valuable at that time and, consequently, was sometimes known as “white gold.” The vast majority of the salt transported on the road was produced near Lüneburg, a city in the northern central part of the country and then transported to Lübeck, a major seaport on Germany’s Baltic coast.
The Salzspeicher (salt storehouses) of Lübeck, Germany, are six historic brick buildings on the Upper Trave River next to the Holstentor (the western city gate).
Built in the 16th–18th centuries, the houses stored salt that was mined near Lüneburg and brought to Lübeck over the Stecknitz Canal. The salt was then shipped to several ports in the Baltic region, where the commodity was relatively rare, but was in high demand for the preservation of food. The salt trade from the late Middle Ages onward was a major reason for the power of Lübeck and the Hanseatic League.
Post script – later on the same trip, we entered East Germany though the Berlin Wall via Checkpoint Charlie, The Wall fell five months later – but I claim no credit.
Thank you Vincent – as usual, an excellent article.
However, global warming alarmism has never been about the science. Science has been corrupted to fit a political agenda.
The following treatise explains the rationale supporting global warming alarmism – and it’s not about the environment either.
TODAY is the 24th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Wall was opened on November 9, 1989.
Five months earlier, in July 1989 I had travelled through the Wall via Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin
I was with colleagues on a business trip. It was not a fun trip , but it was highly educational. East Berlin and East Germany were everything Ronald Reagan said they were – repressive, backward, and evil – families were spying on each other and ratting to the Stasi, the dreaded East German Secret Police. We left a day earlier than planned – none of us could stand the place any longer.
The reason I raise this point is that Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, made particular mention of the fall of the Berlin Wall in this essay written in 1994 – see paragraph 2 below.
Keep in mind that I am not saying this, rather I am quoting Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace – but I tend to accept his analysis.
For more evidence, read
Regards, Allan
The Rise of Eco-Extremism
Two profound events triggered the split between those advocating a pragmatic or “liberal” approach to ecology and the new “zero-tolerance” attitude of the extremists. The first event, mentioned previously, was the widespread adoption of the environmental agenda by the mainstream of business and government. This left environmentalists with the choice of either being drawn into collaboration with their former “enemies” or of taking ever more extreme positions. Many environmentalists chose the latter route. They rejected the concept of “sustainable development” and took a strong “anti-development” stance.
Surprisingly enough the second event that caused the environmental movement to veer to the left was the fall of the Berlin Wall. Suddenly the international peace movement had a lot less to do. Pro-Soviet groups in the West were discredited. Many of their members moved into the environmental movement bringing with them their eco-Marxism and pro-Sandinista sentiments.
These factors have contributed to a new variant of the environmental movement that is so extreme that many people, including myself, believe its agenda is a greater threat to the global environment than that posed by mainstream society. Some of the features of eco-extremism are:
• It is anti-human. The human species is characterized as a “cancer” on the face of the earth.
The extremists perpetuate the belief that all human activity is negative whereas the rest of nature is good. This results in alienation from nature and subverts the most important lesson of ecology; that we are all part of nature and interdependent with it. This aspect of environmental extremism leads to disdain and disrespect for fellow humans and the belief that it would be “good” if a disease such as AIDS were to wipe out most of the population.
• It is anti-technology and anti-science. Eco-extremists dream of returning to some kind of technologically primitive society. Horse-logging is the only kind of forestry they can fully support. All large machines are seen as inherently destructive and “unnatural’. The Sierra Club’s recent book, “Clearcut: the Tragedy of Industrial Forestry”, is an excellent example of this perspective. “Western industrial society” is rejected in its entirety as is nearly every known forestry system including shelterwood, seed tree and small group selection. The word “Nature” is capitalized every time it is used and we are encouraged to “find our place” in the world through “shamanic journeying” and “swaying with the trees”. Science is invoked only as a means of justifying the adoption of beliefs that have no basis in science to begin with.
• It is anti-organization. Environmental extremists tend to expect the whole world to adopt anarchism as the model for individual behavior. This is expressed in their dislike of national governments, multinational corporations, and large institutions of all kinds. It would seem that this critique applies to all organizations except the environmental movement itself. Corporations are criticized for taking profits made in one country and investing them in other countries, this being proof that they have no “allegiance” to local communities. Where is the international environmental movements allegiance to local communities? How much of the money raised in the name of aboriginal peoples has been distributed to them? How much is dedicated to helping loggers thrown out of work by environmental campaigns? How much to research silvicultural systems that are environmentally and economically superior?
• It is anti-trade. Eco-extremists are not only opposed to “free trade” but to international trade in general. This is based on the belief that each “bioregion” should be self-sufficient in all its material needs. If it’s too cold to grow bananas – – too bad. Certainly anyone who studies ecology comes to realize the importance of natural geographic units such as watersheds, islands, and estuaries. As foolish as it is to ignore ecosystems it is absurd to put fences around them as if they were independent of their neighbours. In its extreme version, bioregionalism is just another form of ultra-nationalism and gives rise to the same excesses of intolerance and xenophobia.
• It is anti-free enterprise. Despite the fact that communism and state socialism has failed, eco-extremists are basically anti-business. They dislike “competition” and are definitely opposed to profits. Anyone engaging in private business, particularly if they are successful, is characterized as greedy and lacking in morality. The extremists do not seem to find it necessary to put forward an alternative system of organization that would prove efficient at meeting the material needs of society. They are content to set themselves up as the critics of international free enterprise while offering nothing but idealistic platitudes in its place.
• It is anti-democratic. This is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of radical environmentalism. The very foundation of our society, liberal representative democracy, is rejected as being too “human-centered”. In the name of “speaking for the trees and other species” we are faced with a movement that would usher in an era of eco-fascism. The “planetary police” would “answer to no one but Mother Earth herself”.
• It is basically anti-civilization. In its essence, eco-extremism rejects virtually everything about modern life. We are told that nothing short of returning to primitive tribal society can save the earth from ecological collapse. No more cities, no more airplanes, no more polyester suits. It is a naive vision of a return to the Garden of Eden.

July 27, 2015 1:16 pm

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Just how many myths can an author get into one sentence, never mind one article?
Dr Ball tells us that:
“As these events unfolded, the Catholic Church increased the cost of Indulgences. Purchase an Indulgence for the remission of severe penances and you eased and accelerated the path to heaven. They were the Medieval equivalent of carbon credits, especially as they benefited the rich. They were Martin Luther’s first complaint.”
Let’s first of all examine Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, in particular number 39 and number 41:
39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, to extol to the people the great bounty contained in the indulgences, while, at the same time, praising contrition as a virtue.
41. Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love.
So Myth Number One from Dr Ball is that Luther’s first complaint was against Indulgences. Luther did not object to Indulgences per se. It was certain practices related to Indulgences to which he took exception.
Myth Number two is that the Catholic Church sold Indulgences. It is the case that certain people went about selling Indulgences but that is not the same as saying that the Catholic Church sold Indulgences. (The idea that the Catholic Church sold Indulgences is one of those myths perpetrated by Protestants and their offspring, the secularists like Voltaire, in order to advance their cause. There were many in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries who fell for these myths. Sadly there are still plenty of people around in the twenty-first century who are doing the same.)
Myth Number Three is that the Catholic Church increased the cost of Indulgences. As the Church did not sell Indulgences it could not have increased their cost.
Finally we have Reason Number XXX to explain the Reformation. Rather like Reason XXX to explain the lack of global warming in the last 18 years.
My advice to Dr Ball is to stick to climate (which maybe he knows about) and steer well clear of religion (about which he appears to know little).

Reply to  Alba
July 28, 2015 5:09 am

Hello Alba,
You give no references for your claims. Can you kindly provide a few references?
Perhaps Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale?
par·don·er [ˈpärdn-ər] noun, historical
noun: pardoner; plural noun: pardoners
– a person licensed to sell papal pardons or indulgences.
You allege a total of three myths in your note, but it is really only one – about indulgences. No big deal?.
Tim Ball has raised an interesting question, as to why the Reformation happened, and why it transformed modern society hugely for the better – despite its occurrence during a time of global cooling, crop failures and extreme hardship – especially for the peoples of Northern Europe.
A related question is why the Protestant countries have flourished so much more than the Catholic countries in recent centuries, despite their Northern locations – where agriculture is challenged by short growing seasons and early frosts, summers are short and winters are long and hard.
Regards, Allan
Post Script:
Before anyone accuses me of being anti-Catholic, I note that this month we are commemorating the Battle of Sherrifmuir, where 300 years ago in 1715 the Clan MacRae lost almost 90% of our men in one battle – and we were all Roman Catholic at the time. Now, perhaps half of Clan MacRae are Protestant and half are Catholic, and we stand together.
After Sherrifmuir, our castle was garrisoned by Spaniards – apparently an extension of the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France. In 1719 Eilean Donan Castle was shelled from the sea-loch by English warships, the Spaniards got migraines and surrendered, and the English blew up the castle. It was rebuilt about a century ago, after the English and the Scots learned to get along (sort of).
Post Post Script
This year is also the 800th Anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta in 1215. Magna Carta marked a critical beginning of Rule of Law in the modern era. Pope Innocent III wrote a Papal Bull annulling Magna Carta, calling it “illegal, unjust, harmful to royal rights and shameful to the English people”. Papal Bull indeed…
Rule of Law is only practiced today in about 10% of the countries in the world – not surprisingly, they are the prosperous ones. Even in these 20 or so fortunate countries, Rule of Law is under threat from the pack of scoundrels and imbeciles that will always be with us.

July 30, 2015 12:56 pm

Hello Allan,
Before complaining about lack of references perhaps you might like to provide a few of your own. How about some references to support your claims about the relative economic development of Protestant and Catholic countries. But even if your claims are correct, so what? I don’t recall Jesus promising that those who follow his teaching will be rewarded by economic success. Far from it. He told us to take up our cross and follow him. And he said, “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36). And, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt 6:24). Perhaps your argument could be reversed and put like this: Those countries which abandoned orthodox Christianity turned their attention to the things of this world and became economically successful.
Are you really trying to claim that a verse from a poet is evidence of something?
I think that we need to distinguish between the initiation of the Protestant Reformation and its adoption by certain parts of Europe. The initiation lies with one man’s rejection of orthodox Christianity. Its adoption by certain parts of Europe may well be explained by a number of economic, social and political factors. We all know that the rejection of the supremacy of the Pope by Henry VIII was caused by political considerations.
Tim Ball may well have raised an interesting question but that does not absolve his effort from critical analysis.
You ask for references. Well, it was Dr Ball who claimed that the Catholic Church sold Indulgences. Perhaps you might like to ask him for his references.
I came across an interesting article about the herring industry in the North Sea. Here is an extract:
This article is based on an old history published in the local newspaper. This writer knew little of the migrations of herring. The science in those days was really quite basic.
Fishing of herring began in the North Sea with the Scottish in the 9th Century. Exportation caused problems in Scotland because the price was forced up for the local people. The Royal Convention of Burghs prohibited the exportation before the resident population was supplied at a regular price. This caused the Scottish herring industry to decline. Many fishermen simply relocated to Holland and there the industry thrived.
Various Kings of Scotland (King Charles III, King Charles IV and King Charles VI) all tried to promote the industry by building new towns. These attempts were wholly unsuccessful.
In 1633 a Royal Committee was set up and importation of foreign caught fish prohibited. A supply was ordered for the Navy – though lent was strictly observed.
I don’t know who Charles III, IV and VI were. Perhaps the author meant James III, IV and VI. However the interesting thing is that seventy three years after the imposition of Protestantism on Scotland by the Scottish Parliament, Scots were still strictly observing Lent. And in the context of the article that can only mean that they were abstaining from meat.
It would be interesting to know what the practice was in other Protestant countries. As far as Germany is concerned I can only say that when I worked in a Protestant organisation there in the 1960s I was told that the reason they had fish on Thursdays was to show that they were not Catholics. Whether that was said in jest I don’t know.

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