Extinctions and shutting down the Gulf Stream

By Andy May

This is part four of our series on climate change costs and hazards. The first three parts were on humans and the environment, population and the food supply, and the cost of global warming. In this part we examine the assertion that man-made climate change, the growth of the human population, and other human activities are causing an increase in species extinctions. We also examine the polar bear controversy.

And we examine the assertion that man-made climate change will cause an influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic from melting glaciers on Greenland and shut down the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation and/or the Gulf Stream. This will then, supposedly, cause a major cooling akin to the one seen 8,180 to 8,340 years ago when the ice dam holding Lake Agassiz onto North America broke, spilling a huge amount of fresh water into the Atlantic.

Global warming is causing a “great extinction” event.

Besides the potential financial costs of global warming, some claim that the modest 0.8°C of warming we have experienced since the mid-19th century is causing more species to become extinct, others say it is the growth of the human population. In fact, National Geographic has claimed we are in the “sixth great extinction in the Earth’s history.” Nadia Drake proclaims that the current extinction rate may be 100 times the normal rate. This is also the subject of a book entitled The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert. If true, this is a considerable cost of either global warming or human population growth.

Experts in the past five extinction events do not support this idea. Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin, an expert on the Permian extinction that may have wiped out 90% of the species on Earth, says those claiming we are in a similar situation simply do not know what a mass extinction is (see here). Erwin points out that somewhere between 0 and 1% of species have gone extinct in recent human history. Consider what he told The Atlantic, in an interview:

“So, you can ask, ‘Okay, well, how many geographically widespread, abundant, durably skeletonized marine taxa have gone extinct thus far?’ And the answer is, pretty close to zero,” Erwin pointed out. In fact, of the best-assessed groups of modern animals—like stony corals, amphibians, birds and mammals—somewhere between 0 and 1 percent of species have gone extinct in recent human history. By comparison, the hellscape of End-Permian mass extinction claimed upwards of 90 percent of all species on earth.”

Daniel Botkin (UC Santa Barbara environmental scientist, bio here) has estimated that the extinction rate for animals and plants is about one per year. This is not an alarming rate and is very far from a “mass extinction” event.

“In the Danish press I pointed out that we had long been hearing figures for the extinction of the world’s species which were far too high – that we would lose about half of all species within a generation. The correct figure is closer to 0.7 percent in 50 years. This led to the Danish chairman of Greenpeace, Niels Bredsdorff, pointing out that Greenpeace had long accepted the figure of 0.7 percent.” Lomborg, Bjørn. The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World (p. 17).

“Extinctions are always happening. Most species that have existed on Earth have gone extinct. As I mentioned before, the average rate for animals and plants has been about one a year (although some recent scientific papers argue that the average rate has been much higher, maybe up to six per year). The number of extinctions has varied over time, including five “mega-extinction” events since the evolution of multicellular life-forms, about 550 million years ago. During each of these mega-extinctions, the majority of species appear to have gone extinct in a (geologically speaking) comparatively short time. The greatest mass extinction was the Permian-Triassic, about 250 million years ago, when an estimated 80 to 90 percent of all species went extinct.” Botkin, Daniel B. 25 Myths That Are Destroying the Environment: What Many Environmentalists Believe and Why They Are Wrong (Kindle Locations 645-650).

The IPCC WGII AR5 report supports Lomborg and Botkin, in a bit of a back-handed way, with figure 1 below from page 43 of the Technical Summary:

Figure 1: Rates of change in distribution (km/decade) for several marine taxonomic groups for 1900 to 2000. Positive changes mean the taxa are present over a larger area, generally moving poleward.

While the IPCC AR5 report does not claim a “great extinction” is imminent they do claim that a “large” fraction of both terrestrial and freshwater species face an increased risk of extinction due to climate change. This prediction is entirely model-based and nothing like they predict has been observed. The report also acknowledges that there is very low agreement concerning the fraction of species at risk (AR5 WGII, technical summary, page 67).

The “Great” Quaternary Megafauna Extinction

After post #1, Javier included a reference to Barnosky, 2008 on the Quaternary megafauna extinction. The paper begins with the following:

“Earth’s most recent major extinction episode, the Quaternary Megafauna Extinction, claimed two-thirds of mammal genera and one-half of species that weighed >44 kg between ~50,000 and 3,000 years ago.”

After cleverly reducing his sample size to get to two-thirds, he proclaims:

“The Quaternary Megafauna Extinction (QME) killed >178 species of the world’s largest mammals, those weighing at least 44 kg (roughly the size of sheep to elephants). More than 101 genera perished. Beginning ~50,000 years (kyr) B.P. and largely completed by 7 kyr B.P., it was Earth’s latest great extinction event.”

So, the “Great” Quaternary megafaunal extinction event extirpated about 178 species of the world’s largest mammals, those weighing >44kg (roughly the size of sheep to elephants). According to Mora, 2011, there are a 1.2 million catalogued species today and there may be a total of 8.7 million species alive in the world today. So, while the extinction of 178 species over ~50,000 years of rapid climate change is distressing because the creatures are so interesting, geologically it is not a significant event. It is not remotely comparable to the five great extinctions. A “Great Extinction” is defined by the American Museum of Natural History as an event where more than half of all species go extinct in a short time, from the museum’s web site:

“Around 65 million years ago, … Fossils that are abundant in earlier rock layers are simply not present in later rock layers. A wide range of animals and plants suddenly died out, from tiny marine organisms to large dinosaurs.”

“Species go extinct all the time. Scientists estimate that at least 99.9 percent of all species of plants and animals that ever lived are now extinct. So, the demise of dinosaurs like T. rex and Triceratopssome 65 million years ago wouldn’t be especially noteworthy–except for the fact that around 50 percent of all plants and animals alive at the same time also died out in what scientists call a mass extinction.”

Thus, the Quaternary megafauna extinction is about three orders of magnitude too small to be a “Great Extinction” as claimed by Barnosky.

The Quaternary megafaunal extinction event began ~50,000 years ago and was mostly complete by 3,000 years ago. This was an extinction rate of 0.004 species per year, which is much lower than the average long term extinction rate of about one species per year (Daniel Botkin, see quote above). Obviously, the extinction of sabre toothed tigers, dire wolves, mammoths, and other megafauna is not particularly significant in geological history. But, these are fascinating creatures due to their size and we value them much more than a toad or insect that goes extinct. However, this is a value judgement, not a geological event.

Barnosky notes that humans fit into the large mammal category, yet humans have survived and thrived. They also claim that the gain in human biomass largely matches the loss of large non-human megafaunal biomass until 12,000 years ago, then total megafaunal biomass crashed as many megafauna went extinct. Sounds like classic “survivor guilt” to me. 12,000 years ago, was about when human civilization began, rice was already being cultivated in China and grains in the Levant (present day Syria and Israel). The construction of the large stone monuments at Gobekli Tepe in modern day Turkey began about this time. Humans were beginning to settle down and become farmers. Humans adapted quite well both during and after the Younger Dryas, other megafauna did not.

12,000 years ago, was very near the end of the Younger Dryas period. This was a 1,000-year return to glacial conditions after a brief warm period from 15,200 years ago until 13,000 years ago. The periods are labeled in figure 2. The figure plots the GISP2 Greenland ice core air temperature record by Alley, 2004.

Figure 2, data from Alley, 2004.

At least in Greenland, and probably over the whole Northern Hemisphere, it was very cold 12,000 years ago. A more detailed time line can be downloaded here. Below is a global reconstruction, using mostly marine temperature proxies that shows pretty much the same thing, although it only goes back to 12,000 BP.

Figure 3, source: A Holocene Temperature Reconstruction.

It was very cold 12,000 years ago and then the world warmed rapidly, especially in the northern hemisphere. This put a lot of stress on all species, undoubtedly some species went extinct, but the species we especially notice, in the fossil record, are the larger creatures. Some estimates suggest that air temperatures, on land, in the northern hemisphere, rose as much as 5-10°C in just a few decades (Severinghaus, et al., 1998). This extremely rapid warming could have affected many species as well. We have people concerned today because of a 0.8°C rise in 137 years, imagine a change of 5°C since 1990! This is what the world saw at the end of the Younger Dryas.

By 12,000 years ago, man had spread throughout Africa, Eurasia and the Americas. The rise of civilization and the development of new hunting tools (bows and arrows, spears, and spear throwers – all invented more than 30,000 years ago) made Upper Paleolithic hunters very formidable. We know that Upper Paleolithic humans hunted megafauna 12,000 years ago and earlier, and were present in areas where megafauna went extinct. In Australia, the megafauna disappeared within a few thousand years of man’s arrival on the continent and in a time of stable climate. But, elsewhere, like in Eurasia, the extinctions occurred during periods of dramatic climate change. It is likely that hunting by Upper Paleolithic humans and climate change both played a role in the megafauna extinction event. A summary of the geological evidence for both theories can be seen in Marianne Lehnert’s 2014 essay here as well as in Barnosky, 2008. Further, it seems clear that of the megafauna present 12,000 years ago, humans were the most adaptable to the changing world. To a large degree, humans simply outlasted and out-survived their competitors, evolution at work.

Barnosky mentions that some megafauna are at risk of extinction today, many of the species have only survived in Africa. This is not a surprise, Africa sits on the equator and is less vulnerable to severe climate change. Because of their size megafauna require a lot of land to live in the wild, this will restrict them to parks, private lands, and zoos; but as man becomes more prosperous, he is more interested in preserving them and they are unlikely to die off. Upper Paleolithic humans were only interested in surviving, humans today are affluent and secure, and will expend energy and resources to help species that we value survive. It is more likely that humans today will ensure the survival of megafauna, rather than threaten them.

Barnosky speculates that our current high level of large animal “biomass” is only being sustained by fossil fuels and is dominated by human “biomass.” Strange way of putting it, but it might be true. His next prediction is that another large animal “biomass crash” is imminent because we are running out of fossil fuels, this is unlikely mainly because his prediction that we only have an 83-year supply of oil and gas is much too pessimistic. The paper states we have a 50 year supply of oil and a 200 year supply of gas, I converted the gas supply to oil by using the USGS conversion of 6 MCF of natural gas to 1 barrel of oil equivalent.

Table 1, (from here), gives a much more realistic estimate of known hydrocarbon resources that are technically recoverable, it is very conservative and does not include all known hydrocarbons. All the hydrocarbon resources in table 1 can be produced economically at prices we have seen in the last 20 years, although some may not be economic at current (2017) prices. It appears that Barnosky was only counting “proven” or “probable” conventional oil and gas deposits, when most of the oil and gas known today are classified as “unconventional” (including oil shale and oil sand deposits). While the production of unconventional oil and gas is more expensive than conventional oil and gas, it is still an order of magnitude cheaper than solar and wind. Nuclear is even cheaper than coal or natural gas, see here. The bottom line is that available energy supply is not the problem.

Table 1, source here.

While Upper Paleolithic (roughly 40,000 to 10,000 years ago) man played some role in the Quaternary megafaunal extinction event, this was a very different human than we are. They were subsistence hunters in a very tough time, this caused physiological changes as they adapted to a very cold climate. During this period, they had barely learned to farm, and even then, only in the most primitive way. When food walked by, they killed it and ate it. We have already seen that taking care of the environment is only possible when our income and security needs are taken care of (see post 1, “Do Humans harm the Environment“), figure 2. Today when GDP in PPP$ exceeds about PPP$2,000 per person, the environment, in that country, improves rapidly.

Barnosky suggests that man’s rise and other megafauna going extinct is simply a trade off in biomass, thus as man’s population grows more extinctions will occur among existing megafauna. I find this highly speculative, considering our prosperity and our interest in preserving endangered species. There is a trade off in available land, but biomass? With modern farming we can feed many more people and animals than in the past, we can also use energy to create a nearly infinite amount of clean water. Further, man has an obvious interest in preserving existing megafauna for esthetic and humanitarian reasons. They will not be able to run wild in a fenceless wilderness, but I doubt we will allow large animal species to go extinct. The best insurance for the survival of megafauna is a prosperous and secure human population.

Polar Bears

As Dr. Susan Crockford has reported in detail on her site polarbearscience.com, USFWS researchers confidently predicted that polar bears would die off to dangerously low levels if sea ice dropped below 3-5 million square kilometers on a regular basis. The first prediction was made by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2006. A second assessment was made by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008. On the basis of these predictions (see here for the ICUN listing), polar bears were put on the vulnerable species list.

It turned out that sea-ice extent has reached 3-5 million square kilometers on a regular basis since 2007, much earlier than expected and this is long enough to assess the predictions and Dr. Crockford has done so here. The “critical” level of ice was reached many times and, yet polar bears thrived, the population stayed stable or, perhaps, grew in number. The 2015 population of polar bears has been estimated to be about 26,000 (22,000 to 31,000). It has since been suggested that a low in the polar bear population was reached between 2004 and 2006 when the sea ice was thick and extensive (figure 2). The population of bears in 2005 has been estimated to be about 22,500 (the range is 20,000 to 25,000). The population increased after the ice melted and when polar bears were spending more time on land. Generally, the accuracy of the estimates of the bear population is not great, but a slight decline in 2001 to 2005 is quite possible. The population has remained stable since 2000, which suggests all the variation in sea ice has had little effect.

The loss of sea ice since 2007 has not affected the polar bear population, in the words of Atwood, et al., 2015:

no causal link between the patterns in polar bear vital rates and increased use of terrestrial habitat

The authors speculate that if the bears spend more time on land, due to the lack of ice, it may be a problem in the future. But, history has shown we should not make environmental decisions based upon speculation.

Once the lack of a link between sea ice extent and polar bear populations was established, Jeffrey Bromaghin (see Bromaghin, et al., 2015), said in an interview on the paper:

The low survival may have been caused by a combination of factors that could be difficult to unravel,” said Bromaghin, “and why survival improved at the end of the study is unknown.

The low point was 2004 to 2006, when the Arctic sea ice was extensive, the “survival of adults and cubs began to improve in 2007” when the Arctic sea ice declined rapidly. This is exactly the opposite of what the environmentalists predicted! The sea ice extent for the years discussed is shown in figure 4.

Figure 4, Data from JAXA, plot from Great White Con.

The polar bear story is a good example of what can go wrong when one bases policy on environmentalist’s predictions. In this case, the polar bear scientists concluded, erroneously, that polar bears needed sea ice to survive. Then they predicted if sea ice reached the 3-5 million square kilometer level or lower polar bears would suffer, this was also incorrect. Finally, they used a climate model to predict that the critical sea ice level would be reached in 2050 due to man-made climate change, also incorrect. It was reached a scant two years later and completely ignored by the bears who simply lived on land in the absence of ice. Not a single prediction was correct, but the polar bear made the “vulnerable” list anyway.

Global Warming will shut down the Gulf stream and cause a mini-ice age.

This hypothetical scenario where melting Greenland ice dilutes the Atlantic between Greenland and Norway and stops the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation (aka the “Atlantic conveyor”) causing a little ice age, such as the one 8,200 years ago, is very unlikely to happen. 8,200 years ago, an enormous fresh water lake (Lake Agassiz), in the area along the border between Canada and the U.S., broke through an ice dam, that was left over from the most recent glacial advance, and flooded the North Atlantic with fresh water. This lowered the salinity of the surface water and halted the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic and cooled the planet for hundreds of years (see more here by Michael Michalek). We often simply refer to one cooling, the 8,200 BP cooling period, but in reality, there were two, one was 8,490 years ago and the other from 8,340 BP to 8,180 BP. Per Lomborg’s Cool It:

“The Gulf Stream last shut down some 8,200 years ago, when the final glacial ice sheets in North America melted and a giant pool of freshwater built up around the area of the Great Lakes. One day, the ice dam broke, and an unprecedented amount of freshwater flooded the North Atlantic and disrupted the sinking salty water from the Atlantic conveyor. This pushed Europe into a little ice age for almost one thousand years. …

Yet the relevance of such a story crucially depends on the Greenland melt being on the same order of magnitude as the ancient freshwater pool—and it is not. Over the coming century, the IPCC expects Greenland to melt almost one thousand times less than what happened 8,200 years ago. A team of modelers looked at what would happen if Greenland melted at triple the rate expected by the IPCC—or, as they put it, at the “upper limit on possible melting rates.” Although they see a reduction in the Gulf Stream, they find “its overall characteristic is not changed” and that “abrupt climate change initiated by Greenland ice sheet melting is not a realistic scenario for the 21st century. …

This is also why the IPCC, in its 2007 report, is very clear about the Gulf Stream: ‘None of the current models simulates an abrupt reduction or shut-down.’ The IPCC’s models expect somewhere from no change to a Gulf Stream reduction of 50 percent over the coming century, but no models show a complete shutdown.” Lomborg, Bjorn. Cool It (Kindle Locations 1334-1394).

This idea was the inspiration for the 2004 film The Day after Tomorrow starring Dennis Quaid and directed and written by Roland Emmerich. This very imaginative film is filled with gross scientific inaccuracies, but did reasonably well at the box office. Critics panned it, as did most earth scientists I know who bothered to watch it.


Bottom line, there is no discernable trend in extinctions, up or down. But, we are certainly not in a “major extinction” event. The Gulf Stream and the world’s thermohaline circulation system are in fine shape and there is no “Lake Agassiz” waiting to spill into the North Atlantic to shut them down. Ice on Greenland cannot melt fast enough to affect the salinity to the degree necessary to repeat the 8,200 BP cold spell.

The Quaternary megafauna extinction was very sad, and both Upper Paleolithic humans and radical natural climate change played a role in those extinctions according to the data we have available. However, comparing this very minor extinction event to the five great extinctions, as Barnosky attempts to do, betrays a complete lack of proportion and an ignorance of the geological past. The true great extinctions were horrific events and the loss of 178 species of large animals is several orders of magnitude too small to qualify. For this event to be classified as a great extinction event would require the extinction of over half a million species and nothing like that is happening today or in the foreseeable future.

Dr. Susan Crockford has documented the saga of polar bears being erroneously declared “vulnerable” quite well and there are lessons to be learned from this fiasco. One cannot base public policy on unvalidated models and predictions. This recent trend of believing, without question, model results; or worse using model results as if they were data, needs to stop. At some point it will lead us off a cliff.


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Biggest problem with “extinctions”…is taxonomy

Classifying something as a distinct species…when it’s the same frog with an extra dot on it’sass


Genera, families, orders, classes and phyla are if anything even harder to categorize.

Humans and chimps should be in the same genus, for instance, since we’re more closely related than the horses, zebras, onagers and donkeys of genus Equus.

And it’s purely an outdated convention to grant birds their own class separate from reptiles. Birds and crocs (archosaurs) are more closely related to each other than they are to lepidosaurs, ie squamates (lizards and snakes) and tuataras. Turtles appear also to be archosaurs, although that result is still a little controversial.

F. Leghorn

Yep. If the Hutus and Tutsis were fossilized and dug up they would be classified as different species of humans.


Well, pygmies, anyway.


You guys left out sphenodontia. They’re important, too.

Why were the round towers at Tel Qaram-el in Syria left out of this? They’ve been dated to 15,000 years ago. Human agriculture certainly goes back more than 12,000 years – more likely closer to 18,000 in the Middle East and China, when things started warming up.

Where is George Carlin when you need him? Save the whales, save the snails, save the bees, save the trees.

Why is it SO important for us meddling humans to “save” something that was going to die off anyway, because it’s environment changed? That’s like saying you have to save all the stray cats on the street or the coyotes will eat them, and we have to save the coyotes because they prey on what we call “pest” animals.


I mention tuataras (sphenodontia) above.

You may have more up to date info, but last I heard the earliest evidence for agriculture comes from China, with apparently domesticated rice c. 13,500 years ago.

“However, comparing this very minor extinction event to the five great extinctions, as Barnosky attempts to do, betrays a complete lack of proportion and an ignorance of the geological past. ”

But that IS their shtick. Because geologic time is sllllllooooooowwwwww and they only have 20 years before the fallacy of their predictions comes to a head. You can’t have millions of years to wait to see if the alarmist predictions may come true? That’s insane! Compress the geologic timeframe and see what the computer model shows..(sounds of the squirrel cage running while the computer runs the numbers) .Viola! The 6th Extinction. We Are Doomed. *what’s that you say? the time compression? Oh…that doesn’t matter, it was merely to make the model run, nothing for you to worry about*

I remember hearing about all the species extinctions that happen every year in grade school. It was treated as, “that’s Nature kids”, this is what it means when we say, “survival of the fittest”. Now though? Kids are taught to feel guilt and shame because species go extinct. Forget the environment for a moment–what is that message doing to our children’s emotional and mental well being? Why in the world should we be ashamed for a natural process? We are ALSO part of that natural process.


There have been at least three papers published which explained why ‘shutting down the gulf stream’ is not and will not be happening. At least two of them have been covered here on WUWT. And if I recall rightly the entire reason for the scary claim that we might, was because they were taking temperature readings only once a month instead of daily at the time, leading it to look like the Gulf Stream was ‘stuttering’ when in point of fact it was seasonal temperature variations. Water flowing from the Mississippi (among other sources) is COLDER during the winter, for some reason that seems to escape alarmists.

There have also been papers that say that nothing much will happen if the Gulf Stream stops, though far North Europe would notice. Seattle does not have a Gulf Stream, but it has a large relatively warm ocean up-wind, so Europe will get something like the winters of Seattle. Big yawn.


Seattle lies well south of Paris.

Matt G

The UK got much colder than Seattle now, with fossilized Arctic beetles found in southern England dated around the Younger dryas period. Fossils found in ocean bed cores from the North Atlantic ocean also showed much colder temperatures than now indicating Arctic species.

NW sage

Seattle DOES have a ‘gulf stream’. It is called the Japanese current and it flows N past Japan in the Western Pacific and then S from Alaska, past British Columbia, and down past the United States. It is relatively warm since the current doesn’t linger and swirl around much in the Gulf of Alaska and therefore moderates the onshore wind (from the W and NW) that comes onshore and makes Seattle wet.



The Kuroshio/North Pacific Current doesn’t reach the Gulf of Alaska. It stays within the band 30 to 50 degrees N. As you know, southernmost SE Alaska lies at 54’40”.

Bill Illis

There may have been times when sea level changes resulted in the Gulf Stream reorganizing itself.

Throughout most of the ice ages, this is the track that the Gulf Stream took – outside the Caribbean Islands because it was not deep enough inside the Island chains and next between Cuba and Mexico and along the Florida coast for a good ocean current like the Gulf Stream to flow properly (hand-drawn by me).
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But once sea level rose enough (at least 75 metres or more), then it reorganized by flowing through the Intra-American seas and the Gulf of Mexico and along Florida’s coast like it does today (below).

But it might have taken fits and starts, over 1,000 years to change course permanently. I don’t think that stopped the overall flow north but it might have been different.
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I agree. Herbert Lamb published graphics which show that during ice ages, the gulf stream does not course as far north into the Atlantic as it does during warm European times.


You’re not leaving much for the rest of us to write about… 😉

It’s been about 80 years since a genus went extinct (Tasmanian tiger). There’s currently one genus on the brink of extinction (an African antelope). The Quternary extinction took out at least a few genera, but is not considered a mass extinction.

Mass extinctions in the fossil record are generally measured at the genus level and above, taking out families, orders and even subphyla.

Yet, envro-nitwits insist that we are currently experiencing a Sixth Mass Extinction. Do these enviro-nitwits even realize that the Quaternary extinction wasn’t one of the Five Mass Extinctions? Do they realize that their poster child for climate change-driven extinctions, the Polar Bear, is genetically a “fake” species?


There is talk that Tasmanian tiger may be brought back to life. I think mankind will be successful in bringing some creatures back and biotech develops. Also, mankind is certainly the only species potentially capable of protecting the earth from destructive space objects.



First attempts show some small possibility.
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John F. Hultquist

Tasmanian tigers suffered from limited genetic diversity – – <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-42318444LINK
Bringing them back will require fixing those issues.

tony mcleod

David Middleton
“80 years”.

A bit impatient aren’t you the other ones took tens of thousand, maybe hundreds of thousand of years.


The first sentences are incorrect: “This is part of our series on climate change costs and hazards.” The first three parts were on humans and the environment, population and food supply, and the cost of global warming the assertion that man-made climate change, the growth of the human population, and other human activities are causing an increase in species extinctions. ”

Investigating the costs of human-driven Climate Change, which is claimed to be caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases, has nothing to do with the costs of population growth and other human activities. After all, who says that the population growth rate would decline if other energy sources were used across the board? Realistically, I am not thinking of renewable energy, but nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Since the world population would probably continue to grow, because it would continue to give an imbalance between 3rd and 1st world. Countries in the third world would first have to set up a technology hive to keep up with such technologies. Start-ups with whom you are supplied with an original equipment, use in the long run little. And with this technology hive, I see black at 70 percent of the countries represented in the United Nations.


If we are going to run out of fossil fuels in 150 years, then in geologic time, man made atmospheric CO2 will be an imperceptible blip.

Steve from Rockwood

In geologic time, man will be an imperceptible blip.

Aren’t we already though?

Remember the geologic 24 hour clock–where the geologic timeframe of the Earth is represented as 24 hours. I seem to recall that the rise of the Homo genus is only the last 2 seconds on that clock. I love that representation–because it brings into perspective the enormity of geologic time and how vast it really is more so than saying, billions or millions of years. Most people can’t conceptualize thousands, let alone millions or billions. But put it into the context of a single day? And you can understand that we ARE just a blip. We are of no more significance than our own wish to be when it comes to the complex workings of the planet we live upon.

R. Shearer

if we were an imperceptible blip but no one was there to record it, then were we?


The worst mass extinction event in the history of animals occurred at the end of the Precambrian, c. 541 Ma. Plants didn’t exist yet, unless algae count.

This Ediacaran/Cambian MEE at the end of the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon wiped out most of the Ediacaran fauna. The so-called Cambrian Explosion was simply the adaptive radiation after this catastrophe. There have been similar “explosions” after each of the MEEs of the Phanerozoic Eon, especially the Permian, followed by the Triassic Explosion. But we mammals also owe our present diversity to the Paleogene Explosion following the end-Cretaceous MEE.

The cause of the Ediacaran MEE is, un,like some later extinctions, well understood. The strange animals, largely small and soft-bodied, which lived then consumed the seafloor cyanobacterial slime mats which formed the basis of their food chain.

The worst MEE of all time probably happened in the Siderean Period of the Paleoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon, c. 2.4 Ga. That’s when the Great Oxygenation Event or Catastrophe, caused by photosynthetic cyanobacteria, nearly killed off all the anaerobic organisms of that time.

Curious George

What did these pre-photosynthetic organisms eat?


Organic chemicals and each other.

Also, there were chemosynthetic organisms, such as those from which photosynthetic organisms evolved.



On Archean ecosystems:


Lots of methanoarchea.


All present methanogens belong to the Archaea, one of the three domains of life, with Bacteria and Eukaryota. A common habitat for them is marine sediment.



It has happened yet again, as I feared.

Word Press won’t let me write the words C_ambr__n Expl_s__n.

I know from long experience that reposting my comment won’t take either. I wonder if you’d be kind enough to enter the Hadean depths of cyberspace in order to retrieve it.

The comment dealt with the two worst MEEs known to science, in the Paleoproterozoic and Neoproterozoic Eras of the Prec_mbr__n Supereon.



Great. I’ll try again. This has happened so often, that I quit commenting earlier.

The worst mass extinction event in the history of animals occurred at the end of the Precambrian, c. 541 Ma. Plants didn’t exist yet, unless algae count.

This Ediacaran/Cambian MEE at the end of the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon wiped out most of the Ediacaran fauna. The so-called Cambrian Explosion was simply the adaptive radiation after this catastrophe. There have been similar “explosions” after each of the MEEs of the Phanerozoic Eon, especially the Permian, followed by the Triassic Explosion. But we mammals also owe our present diversity to the Paleogene Explosion following the end-Cretaceous MEE.

The cause of the Ediacaran MEE is, un,like some later extinctions, well understood. The strange animals, largely small and soft-bodied, which lived then consumed the seafloor cyanobacterial slime mats which formed the basis of their food chain.

The worst MEE of all time probably happened in the Siderean Period of the Paleoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon, c. 2.4 Ga. That’s when the Great Oxygenation Event or Catastrophe, caused by photosynthetic cyanobacteria, nearly killed off all the anaerobic organisms of that time.



Just tried again and it still didn’t take.

Last time this happened, CTM was able to resurrect the comment.





What those earlier MEEs do show however is that life is capable of engineering its own extinctions. It doesn’t always require a space rock slamming into our planet.


I’ll try posting parts of it, to see where the offense lies.

The worst mass extinction event in the history of animals occurred at the end of the Precambrian, c. 541 Ma. Plants didn’t exist yet, unless algae count.


OK, it was something in the second paragraph. Will try the third and fourth:

The cause of the Ediacaran MEE is, un,like some later extinctions, well understood. The strange animals, largely small and soft-bodied, which lived then consumed the seafloor cyanobacterial slime mats which formed the basis of their food chain.

The worst MEE of all time probably happened in the Siderean Period of the Paleoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon, c. 2.4 Ga. That’s when the Great Oxygenation Event or Catastrophe, caused by photosynthetic cyanobacteria, nearly killed off all the anaerobic organisms of that time.


The second, third and fourth paragraphs won’t post.


..”The strange animals, largely small and soft-bodied, which lived then consumed the seafloor cyanobacterial slime mats which formed the basis of their food chain.”
Strange how ?, are there limits to define “strange”.
It is ok to say you are only offering up a hypothesis, and you fully expect it to torn to shreds, or not.


Not an hypothesis, but a fact. Can’t tear apart a fact.
That the Ediacaran fauna was strange is its main feature. Most of its creatures do not obviously belong to any familiar phyla, with the exception of protosponges in Porifera. That’s what paleontologists mean by “strange”. Not many obvious ancestors of the common Phanerozoic phyla.
Some Ediacarans have been interpreted as proto-mollusks and proto-arthropods, with varying degrees of acceptance. There are few actual fossils, with most remains being impressions of soft body parts and seafloor traces. There are a few hard parts, such as sponge spicules and similar silicate and calcium accretions.


Talk about strange. Yet another reply of mine goes missing. Maybe Ed–cr-n is the trigger that gets me tossed.


Not sure what you find to tear to shreds, since that the Edcrn Fauna was strange is a fact, not an hypothesis. That the Edcrn Biota was strange is its main feature. That is, its fauna in most cases are hard to connect with Phanerozoic phyla, protosponges in Phylum Porifera excepted. It’s not even clear if some forms were animals or more closely related to fungi. Being short on hard body parts, they don’t even leave real fossils, but impressions and traces. Hard body parts were however evolving, like sponge spicules.

Attempts to link Edcrn forms with phyla such as arthropods and mollusks have not gained universal support among paleontologists.

It’s also a fact that the cyanobacterial slime mats in which they lived or to which they were attached disappeared at the Proterozic/Phanerozoic boundary.

While three years old, this link is fairly up to date on the Edcrn Biota:


So I don’t get whatever point you’re trying to make.

Hope this reply doesn’t also get lost in cyberspace.


The first response did reappear this time.

So, UK, I hope I’ve defined “strange” to your satisfaction, from a paleontological standpoint. But please feel free to try to rip to shreds whatever it is in my comments which you find rip-worthy.


This Ediacaran/Cambian MEE at the end of the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon wiped out most of the Ediacaran fauna. The so-called Cambrian Explosion was simply the adaptive radiation after this catastrophe. There have been similar “explosions” after each of the MEEs of the Phanerozoic Eon, especially the Permian, followed by the Triassic Explosion. But we mammals also owe our present diversity to the Paleogene Explosion following the end-Cretaceous MEE.


Well, #2 just did, with a delay. Here are 3rd and 4th ‘graphs:

The cause of the Ediacaran MEE is, un,like some later extinctions, well understood. The strange animals, largely small and soft-bodied, which lived then consumed the seafloor cyanobacterial slime mats which formed the basis of their food chain.

The worst MEE of all time probably happened in the Siderean Period of the Paleoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon, c. 2.4 Ga. That’s when the Great Oxygenation Event or Catastrophe, caused by photosynthetic cyanobacteria, nearly killed off all the anaerobic organisms of that time.


Gabro, not sure what you are seeing at your end, but a four-paragraph comment by you is visible now. You posted that; then, began posting the paragraphs one at a time.



Andy found and freed the comment, as CTM has done in the past.


Same here I tried 4 times and now it says I’ve already said that comment.


Cambrian explosion.


I don’t get it, Gabro. Works for me!


Maybe it’s whatever else I say in those comments. It happens every time. Over and over again.

Stevan Reddish

Gabro, I copied and pasted your 2nd paragraph into a reply in this exact spot just 5 minutes ago. The reply disappeared without acknowledgement.

I guess it was because the word “exp-L0-si0n” appeared 3 times. I have had that experience in the past – controversial words that get through one at a time are blocked when repeated or grouped with other such words.

I recommend misspelling any suspected words



I thought it might be that word, but previous comments with just one mention have also been blocked.

Ian L. McQueen

explosion explosion explosion explosion

Stevan Reddish

Well, Gabro, it is looking more and more like you and I have been blackballed.



I wondered, but the mods assure me that’s not the case. There is just something about the Cambrian and Edcrn that WUWT’s host doesn’t like. It’s frustrating enough that, as noted, I quit commenting for some time.

kokoda - AZEK (Deck Boards) doesn't stand behind its product

“It is more likely that humans today will ensure the survival of megafauna, rather than threaten them.”

What about 100 or 200 years from ‘today’, possibly when the overextended human population may choose to act differently. Look around the world and see what is happening ‘today’. Elephants being slaughtered with machine guns and many before death have their face cut off by chain saws. Look at the deforestation around the world – this will create a much warmer world, including more asphalt and concrete.

Humans will ensure the life of megafauna ( left off ‘today’) – not a chance!

R. Shearer

Then how do you explain success stories, such as the survival of the American bison or alligator?

kokoda - AZEK (Deck Boards) doesn't stand behind its product

R. Shearer
It is the timeline to which I defer. Your posit occurs when the human population had only grown to a still very manageable extent. And, you seem to rest on the laurels of human goodness. I look at history and think otherwise.

BTW, just got back in from shoveling that GloBull Warming Snow.


Humans wreaked most of our havoc on wildlife when our numbers were smaller, ie the Australian, Hawaiian and New Zealand faunas, Pleistocene megafauna and such sad victims as the dodo, Carolina parakeet, Caribbean monk seal, passenger pigeon and great auk, ie often island species. Now that we’ve grown numerous and rich, we can afford to protect animals, fungi and plants we previously would have eaten or otherwise endangered.

We try to wipe out more microbes, but they keep out-evolving us.

Chris Wright

Yes, elephants and other animals are being slaughtered, but it is illegal, so progress has been made.
Many African countries have police and rangers whose job is to protect these animals. But it is expensive and usually there isn’t enough money to give complete protection. It’s poverty that limits the protection and it’s also poverty that motivates the criminals doing the killing.

As has been stated here many times, as societies become richer, environmental protection improves (it’s an expensive business – if people are starving, the environment will be very low on the list).

The sad thing is that climate alarmism threatens to cut off economic growth in the developing world – and it’s economic growth that, in the long term, will provide the best protection for these beautiful animals.

Carbon BIgfoot

Andy you are a great writer but seem to be oblivious of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins of scientific knowledge , which is an extensive body of scientific knowledge , i.e., the chemical genesis of hydrocarbon molecules which comprise natural petroleum. This is a widely accepted theory that petroleum is a primordial material of deep origins. In other words petroleum is not a “fossil fuel” and has no connection with dead dinosaurs or other biologic detritus “in the sediments or anywhere else”. You and others seem to be married to the Rockefeller Myth that continues to be perpetuated by non-scientific minds including geologists and petroleum engineers. WE WILL NEVER RUN OUT OF PETROLEUM–PERIOD.

R. Shearer

Even if true, there is a fundamental limitation on the rate of its creation, but more importantly, its useful extraction. The fact is that the general trend of carbon sequestration fate is to carbonates.

Nevertheless, calling geologists and petroleum engineers “non-scientific” is farcical.

Carbon BIgfoot

Would you prefer ignorant?

Carbon BIgfoot

Open your mind Shearer–obviously you’re not skilled in organic chemistry.

R. Shearer

You don’t know what you are talking about. I have a PhD in chemistry and analyzed biomarkers in petroleum, source and reservoir rocks many years ago.

CB, that supposed theory and ‘Ukranian confirmation’, originally esposed by Gould, has been thoroughly debunked. Bad geology. Small amounts of abiotic natural gas do exist, most abundantly in the methane clathrates on the floor of the Framm Strait. Abiotic petroleum does not exist, period. You need to research this and educate yourself.


Gold and the Soviets seem independently to have come to the same conclusions in the 1950s. Gold was accused of plagiarism, but apparently wasn’t guilty.

Smart Rock

Bigfoot: So why is there no oil in Precambrian sedimentary basins then?

This “abiogenic oil” idea keeps resurfacing. Just because it isn’t a “humans are bad – climate – destroying the planet – we’re all gonna die” type of fabrication, does not mean that it isn’t utter nonsense. You really need to move on to things that matter, and stop wasting your intellect on bad ideas.

Please, nobody bring up “Precambrian oil fields”. Every one can be easily demonstrated to have migrated from Phanerozoic rocks, just like oil fields in granite have.


Forgive me for bringing it up, but Precambrian oil has been found. This doesn’t however imply an abiogenetic origin, since marine microbes abounded in Proterozoic Eon seas, the same feedstock as most Phanerozoic oil.

There are claims of older oil, but the earliest definitely preserved petroleum of which I know was found in Australia’s 1.4 Ga McArthur rift basin.

There are some Precambrian oils. But they are rare. A lot of it is related to time. It takes unique circumstances to keep oil trapped in rock pores or fractures for 100’s of millions of years without breaching the trap or burying the rocks too deep and cooking them into something else.

35 years ago an Australian geologist came to see me and showed me a core sample of a very old Precambrian sandstone they drilled in the Australian shield. It had been a nice Quartz arenite, but it had been squashed and the permeability was very low. So I explained to him that rock could some day be exploited for gas, but to get oil out of it we would have to fracture it, and I didn’t think it was worth spending money looking for something like that.

At the time we were already performing fracs in tight sands, but horizontal wells were only being drilled by the French (that I know of). A few years later we saw them drill horizontals in carbonates in Texas, and I believe those turned out so so. So technology has improved a lot over the years, but I wouldn’t waste my $ looking for Precambrian oil in Australia. Rusia has some good ancient reservoirs, but the location is very expensive, and I wouldn’t expect there’s a lot to be found.

I’m rambling a bit, but the problem we face is that a lot of the oil is expensive to develop and produce. And we just can’t find sizable new reservoirs. When I started in this business we used to find large fields all the time, and we had them lined up for development like a fast food line. Nowadays that’s not happening. And please don’t tout pseudo discoveries in the “shales”. Those wells have low individual recoveries, and many companies developing that stuff are running Ponzi schemes. The full cycle economics require at least $80 per barrel to be really worthwhile.


Plenty of organic stuff around in the Archean for oil to have formed, demonstrated by the widespread presence of black [graphitic] shales.

Possibly a lack of suitable reservoirs to capture / preserve it.

That abiotic oil theory is like a zombie, it comes out regularly once a month. But thus far I don’t see anybody who touts it finding oil with it. The table shown in this post is wrong. What I would like is for a cornucopian to tell us oil people where do they think we can get those volumes? I wouldn’t mind a tip.

By the way, Venezuela’s highly touted oil reserves are fake. They don’t amount to even half of what pdvsa claims. Its gas reserves are also bogus, although there’s some gas potential that’s not being developed.

Finally, it’s much more transparent and useful to list crude oil, condensate, NGL, and natural gas in separate groups. Refineries are fed crude oil and condensate. But even some condensates being marketed in the USA have too much NGL mixed in. The liquids we extract from the fractured horizontal wells tend to be very light, and this is why the USA exports light oils and imports medium grades. In other words, that unconventional stream can’t replace the conventional crude oils. It helps a lot, but it isn’t a real answer.

And also to distinguish between conventional crude (API>10, porosity>5%, permeability >10 millidarcies) and unconventional crude. Most of Veneuela‘s remaining reserves are unconventional heavy Orinoco ‘tar’.

Andy, the last full data set I had for the Orinoco oil belt was issued in 2008 by pdvsa after hundreds of development wells had been drilled in the better areas (Cerro Negro turned out to be the best by far). I also had access to results of over 100 additional extension wells, and several large 3D seismic shoots, the experience gained operating SAGD and other technologies we are still researching (such as adding butane to the steam). And we had thousands of hours running reservoir models we built with help from Canadian researchers.

Since you know a bit about it, I’ll lay out a bit of what we found: 1. Some of the “oil” identified in old logs was in sands with fresh water, the saturations were off. The reservoirs are connected to large acquifers, so areas such as the one developed by Total are being flushed prematurely, and they struggle to get 6% recovery factor. Once the water comes in the sector can’t be used for steam, because the steam goes into the watered out thief zones. The oil in some sectors is low viscosity (about 800 to 1000 cp, so the SAGD chambers don’t form in an orthodox fashion. Pdvsa (with foreign oil companies looking the other way) has drilled over one thousand horizontal wells with the wrong metallurgy liners which will fall apart in a high temperature environment. Models show we can’t make polymers work in oils above 800 cp. (fractional flow equations don’t work in heavy oil, so any work you see with a standard simulator are bs). Techniques such as CHOPs appear to be feasible in some sectors, and we have some tricks I can’t discuss to make them work better. We gave run simulations with electric heaters, they can help but they are very expensive.

Also don’t forget a lot of that oil is asphalt, and we spend a lot to break the molecules, add hydrogen and make something useful. And it’s really hard to convince management to move away from coking. So whatever we do, about 15% of the crude goes to petcoke, sulfur, and other garbage we don’t sell very well.

Anyway, the bottom line is I’m 25 years in the future, and what we found is that pdvsa has overstated the recovery factor and the oil just won’t be there.


Many of the big cat’s are within what could be called an evolutionary cul-de-sac, certainly the cheetah is. So what have human’s done to cause this? Not that much! The major cause for there declining numbers has been the reduction in migrating animals over what was vast swaths of the northern African and European landmass. Lions are missing from Spain and Portugal and across the Mediterranean where they once flourished but died out due to a lack of prey, the change in climate, and yes some human predation after their decline. In Africa the Sahara desert has expanded over the centuries, reducing the hunting range down to the niche areas of Africa.

And that is my point, these natural extinctions will happen, they are a long slow process of hundreds or thousands of years. Yes humans have ensure the rapid extinction of a few species — Dodo, Carrier pigeons, various pygmy varieties of Rhinos and Elephants, but these days our effects are in trying to maintain or increase the populations of those currently endangered wildlife, and not to be the boasting owners of the final dead trophy specimens.

It is therefore unlikely that there will be a ‘rapid’ or precipitous decline in most animal numbers, nature works on a time scale that is alien to most humans — multi-decade, centuries, and longer. So things like the shift in the gulf stream will eventually affect many natural cycles and cause some deadly stresses to some species but that is how nature works. Humans could intervene to slow or prevent the loss but as the world changes so too will the underlying structures that those species require.


The Caspian tiger and North African elephant were probably wiped out by the Romans to feed their mass slaughter circus frenzy.

Extreme Hiatus

Good point Gabro. The Romans had a huge system for capturing and transporting big scary animals for their ‘circuses.’ Not sure if that applies to the elephants… after all, given the habitat of North Africa there couldn’t have been too many of them to begin with by Roman times.


It was an amazing system, when you consider how hard it is to Hatari big animals even today.

Somehow enough North African elephants survived into antiquity for Hannibal to incorporate them into his army. Only one of some 36 survived the Alps crossing, however.


Thank-you for the information Gabro,

It is interesting to think how did Hannibal cross the Alps? Such a crossing these days would be impossible without clearing the snow, ice and some of the remaining glaciers.

John B

Not that hard tom0mason. It’s likely there wasn’t ice blocking him.I read a report recently (sorry I didn’t save the link) but bored through 30 feet of ice in the Alps found churned up mud, straw and various dungs, including elephant. It was cold, but not blocked.



The Roman Warm Period was a lot hotter than now. Still icy alpine passes that are just now opening up were fully open then.

Despite lack of elephants, Napoleon’s crossing of the Alps was perhaps more impressive, as occurring during the Dalton Minimum of the late LIA.


I am nostalgic for the Obama years. Here in MA it is in the low teens and single digits at night. I long for the days when we had Global Warming instead of this cold weather that Trump is evidently responsible for.

R. Shearer

The temperature here in the Rocky Mountain region is apparently more liberal.




A cold, white Christmas is coming your way.
(Is have a “white Christmas” allowed by the PC police?)

Sandy In Limousin

Having spent 10 winters in Eastern MA, you have my sympathies.


The great bison herds of the North American plains were driven to the edge of extinction 130 years ago in a deliberate campaign to force the native American tribes off of their traditional lands and onto reservations. That near extinction event took less than 70 years of aggressive hunting with firearms. The bison is slowly rebuilding, but now genetic diversity issues require close monitoring.

Caribou herds in Northern Alaska still roam, and are now under active preservation. The introduced Elk are also gaining a toe-hold in Alaska.

The megafauna of Africa are under intense poaching pressures. The black and white rhinos are already all but gone.From gorillas to elephants, the long term picture is bleak. Some large animals like the hippo are doing okay.


Without the market hunters, the bison were doomed anyway, as Indians armed with firearms would have wreaked the same destruction, but more slowly. They too favored cows.


The Indians had almost killed off the bison themselves. It was only because of a great Indian die out due to western European diseases that the bison were able to make a comeback. I have heard that their were 5 or so different bison species and the Indians managed to kill off all but one.

F. Leghorn

The bison were mainly slaughtered for their hides. The industrial revolution needed belts to transfer rotational motion from steam engines to machinery. New York city, Philadelphia and Boston were the final destination of most of those hides.

It’s a shame they hadn’t invented refrigeration yet or we might be eating much more bison to this day.

Extreme Hiatus

That “mainly slaughtered for their hides” is a myth. That was the reason for the final slaughter in the late 1800s but not before that.

This idea of a “deliberate campaign to force the native American tribes off of their traditional lands and onto reservations” is the same, only applying to the final chapter, and this only applies to the US, not Canada.

Also worth noting that the super-abundance of bison only happened after smallpox severely reduced the number of indigenous hunters – and, no, it was not deliberately introduced (with a few local exceptions).

Gabro wrote: “Without the market hunters, the bison were doomed anyway, as Indians armed with firearms would have wreaked the same destruction, but more slowly. They too favored cows.”

Actually, before repeating rifles arrived, Indians preferred to use bows and arrows because they were just as deadly and could be ‘reloaded’ much faster and ammunition was expensive. The BIG European influence for them in terms of improving their bison kills was horses.

Yes they “favored cows.” Much better eating when fat. Canadian explorer Peter Fidler noted that in early spring the Blackfoot hunted them for their fetuses and just left the female carcasses because they were so lean that they couldn’t eat them (unless they had nothing else).

Also worth noting that in many areas they drove them into pounds, or big corrals, and then killed them. They also more famously drove them off cliffs but that only worked where there were suitable cliffs. In both cases their religious beliefs made them kill every single bison whether they could use them or not because they believed that if one escaped it would tell all the other bison and their methods wouldn’t work anymore.

That said, they likely would not have wiped them out because there were no-man’s land areas between hostile tribes where nobody hunted. One of the biggest ones was the upper Missouri where Lewis and Clark saw so much wildlife and no people for three months.

Also worth noting the completely misinterpreted story about indigenous ‘spiritual respect’ for wildlife. They did show that, very strongly, because they believed everything had a spirit… and if you were on good terms with, say, the spirit of bison then those spirits would allow you to kill more of the material ones.


Bow and arrow or lance, even from horseback, were not as effective as firearms from same. Even muzzleloaders, let alone when repeating firearms became common, after the Civil War.

For whatever reason, white market buffalo hunters were indeed in it mainly for the hides, whether for belts or robes. The only meat they took were tongues and maybe humps.

Whether official policy or not, Sherman and Sheridan did encourage buffalo hunters in order to help control and corral the warlike Plains tribes.

Extreme Hiatus

“Bow and arrow… even from horseback, were not as effective as firearms from same.”

Sorry but that’s not what history recorded. For example, from an 1833-58 fur trader on the upper Missouri:

Guns “the principal arms, but bows and arrows are used fully as much by mounted men. The difficulty appears to be the loading of the gun on horseback. If possible they carry both on their war expeditions, also some are armed with lances, war clubs, and battle axes. The last three instruments are used only in close quarters… in these [close] emergencies the tools last mentioned stand them in great need. Guns are therefore only additional weapons… The metal arrow point is superior to the flint one formerly used, and more easily procured. The arrows for battle are barbed and tied on loosely, so that an attempt to withdraw the arrow invariably leaves the iron in the wound, which makes many of their wounds dangerous…”

Denig, E.T. 2000 [1930]:143-44 (537-38). The Assiniboine. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK. Reprint from Forty-sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1928-1929.

Stone arrowheads were equally effective but were less durable and more costly to make than iron ones.

The decline of the bison began long before the Civil War.


Of course the decline of bison began before the Civil War, as for instance the woods bison east of the Mississippi. But the demise of the Plains bison occurred rapidly during the 25 years after the Civil War. The transcontinental RR split them into the northern and southern herds.


My family raised bison from c. 1960 to 1990.

Extreme Hiatus

Gabro – Didn’t look at the wiki link. Never do when it covers anything even slightly controversial. But worth noting that there was also Canada where the history of Euro-indigenous relations was much different because indigenous people were essential partners in the fur trade. Unfortunately, most Canadians do not seem to understand even that so they imagine things there were like in the US.


The link is based on good data, only cited in Wiki.

The Grandmother Country was a bit different, but bison extirpation dates aren’t one of the big differences.

Please take a look. The herds were still gigantic in 1865, but reduced to tiny isolates by 1889. That wasn’t all because of Indians with repeating arms, of course (although some Sioux and Cheyenne warriors were better armed than the 7th Cavalry in June 1876). Most bison were killed by white hunters in stands using single shot, but long-range hunting rifles. Shoot the cows.

Extreme Hiatus


“Please take a look. The herds were still gigantic in 1865, but reduced to tiny isolates by 1889. That wasn’t all because of Indians with repeating arms, of course (although some Sioux and Cheyenne warriors were better armed than the 7th Cavalry in June 1876). Most bison were killed by white hunters in stands using single shot, but long-range hunting rifles. Shoot the cows.”

I agree. But as I stated to begin with, this was the final phase and that policy was only in the US. There seems to be a very convenient myth that this was the whole story of bison extirpation but, as usual, things were more complicated than that.


Note to extreme hiatus.

Not all Indian tribes believed every animal had a spirit. That is fairly Hollywood. The Indians in the trail of tears – the civilized tribes – believed in one god with Cherokee beliefs being so similar to Christianity they readily took Christianity up believing they were one of the lost tribes of Israel.

Extreme Hiatus


You wrote (to me): “Not all Indian tribes believed every animal had a spirit. That is fairly Hollywood. The Indians in the trail of tears – the civilized tribes – believed in one god with Cherokee beliefs being so similar to Christianity they readily took Christianity up believing they were one of the lost tribes of Israel.”

No, not Hollywood but anthropology and the early historical record. That said, there were many, many indigenous cultures and each had its own ‘religion’ adapted to their particular lives. So the corn farmers of the east had different particular beliefs than hunter-gatherers. The more sophisticated the society the more complex they often were. However, this fundamental concept that all animals – including themselves – as well as all things had a spirit was universal (or close to it; given their cultural diversity I would guess there may have been some groups that differed though I have yet to find one).

The Cherokee you note were long after European influences changed things and beliefs. Their original religions were, like their original cultures, already crushed.

Worth noting that the Mandan of the upper Missouri – farmers, traders and seasonal hunters – who lived in villages – were thought by some to be one of the lost tribes of Israel too.

Michael Anderson

This CRAP is just one more facet of the “the biosphere was just perfect 300 years ago, then white folks messed it up, and we need to revert to that time and freeze it forever” meme that is part and parcel of both environmentalist and climate-change demagoguery.

My suggestion to such people has always been and remains, “Try living the way people did 300 years ago yourself, then get back to us. Before you leave your home, job, and computer and go off in the bush tho/ugh, I recommend buying a copy of ‘Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer. It’ll make enlightening reading while you die exactly the way he did.”

As to the last comments, the aboriginal people didn’t need guns to hunt the bison to extinction, since one of the favored methods of killing them was driving entire herds over cliffs. They’d already done a fine job on the camel, woolly rhino, mammoth, mastodon, giant ground sloth and many other species (just like the Maori and all the moa species), so as Gabro points out, it really was inevitable. All that CRAP about being perfect stewards of their environment was taught to them by imbecilic hippies to parrot back to the media. Part and parcel of the Pan-Indianism movement (q.v.) which is one of the worse piles of historic revisionism foisted on the human race.

Can you tell I’m tired of crap yet? >:(


Until Plains Indians got horses from the Spanish, hunting bison wasn’t practical, except by setting fires to stampede them over cliffs.

Michael Anderson

Well then, like, why couldn’t they like, have just gone, y’know, like – vegan?

I’d say they were all SOBs, but like, aboriginals can’t be ipso, like, facto, SOBs, so like – me confused.

Extreme Hiatus

Gabro – They didn’t usually use fire for that. But one reason they did burn prairies was that created better pasture for bison which attracted them. On the flip side, in the short term burning could also eliminate pasture and there are recorded cases of them doing that to make life difficult for others.

Lots of historical records about them bison hunting before horses, and lots of archaeological evidence too.

The other big thing, maybe the biggest thing, about horses is they allowed more people to live on the plains and hunt bison. The horse created a bison hunting boom.


Yes, fires helped the grass grow, too, of course.

People always exploited bison, but horses made regular hunting and basing a culture on bison possible. It was such an improvement, that previously farming people (and better armed) like the Sioux moved west from Minnesota to cash in on the new culture, to the disadvantage of the traditional Plains peoples.

Extreme Hiatus

Agree. Yet, funny thing, that historical reality is conveniently ignored every time many of these new plains peoples claim to have been there ‘forever’ and have ‘sacred’ sites used to block pipelines, etc.

In Canada there were French and later English fur traders in some plains areas before the current ‘indigenous’ people got there. And nobody seems to want to talk about what happened to the indigenous people who were there before them. The Cree for example, whose original homelands around western Hudson Bay happened to make them among the first people to trade with Europeans in western Canada, expanded westward armed with the help of European firearms even before they got horses. Think the Sioux were a similar story.


And the Blackfoot, who also got firearms early from HBC traders. But even as late as the 1850s, Blackfoot were still using buffalo jumps rather than hunting with firearms mounted. An example is Ulm Pishkun, SW of Great Falls, Montana. My first wife was a Blackfoot. She reminds me of the great line in “Stagecoach”, “Si, she a little bit savage, I think”. A great mom to four kids, the second two of whom were with a Umatilla-Cayuse-Walla Walla tribe member.

There were major battles btw tribes over bison hunting grounds. The last one of which I know was this in 1873:


Extreme Hiatus

No doubt they would still use jumps where they existed. But suitable cliffs were only where they were.

Since the Blackfoot hated Americans ever since Lewis and Clark killed one of them, the HBC (and the NWC, the other major British/Canadian trading until they merged) were happy to provide them with firearms to keep their American competition at bay. Fur trader Alexander Henry even recorded trades in ‘booty’ obtained from raids on American fur traders at Rocky Mountain House in Alberta in – as I recall – about 1810.

People are people. The real history of North American indigenous tribal histories (and ’empires’) is no different than Europe or anywhere else.


True, that.

European invaders didn’t do anything to the indigenous population that the Amerindian tribes weren’t already doing to themselves. Indeed, less, since eating your enemy had ceased to be a European custom.

The aliens did however bring new disease with them, returning the favor of the scourges of syphilis and tobacco in the other direction of transatlantic death trade.

There were millions of bison and wild cattle (Auroch) in Europe, North Africa and Asia. They were hunted to extinction before firearms were invented. It was the homo line’s favorite food going back 2.0 million years. Final extinctions didn’t happen until 1,000 years ago or so. The Auroch was domesticated and down-sized and is now our cattle but it was very difficult to do.

Michael Anderson

You mean – intertribal warfare? Women and children slaughtered, mutilated, scalped, and immolated for no reason? No! Gasp! Other expressions denoting pretense of being shocked! That like can’t be, man, because like these people were like so much better than us, man!

That’s the kind of idiocy we’re up against. You want to despair, because the revisionism (along with many other kinds of non-thinking obviously, or none of us would be here) is so thoroughly embedded in our culture now, but it’s worth fighting.

Yep: civilization is worth fighting for. What a concept, eh?

IPCC AR4 WG2 on extinctions is a perfect mess. Scientifically dishonest figures misrepresenting and exaggerating the literature. Traces back to exactly one paper with a provably erroneous methodology intentionally exaggerating extinction risk by endemic regional selection bias. Exposed in essay No Bodies.


but but…science is a business…..scientists employees/salemen…it’s their job to drum up business or they are out of a job

William Astley

Climate science is chock full of urban legends.

The cartoon drawing showing deep ocean currents following a discrete path is not correct.

1. The discrete thermal halone ocean conveyor theory has been proven incorrect by ocean float data. The discrete thermal halone conveyor started with a picture that Wally Broeker included in a paper without proof. Ocean float data shows only 8% of the flow in the North Atlantic follows the Broeker conveyor path. Therefore changes in the fresh water flow cannot interrupt the North Atlantic drift current and changes in the North Atlantic drift current do not affect ocean current flow in the Southern Hemisphere.

2. Basic analysis shows the heat transferred by the North Atlantic drift current is three times less than the heat that is transfer from summer warming of the North Atlantic ocean. A complete interruption to the North Atlantic drift current therefore cannot cause the cyclic warming and cooling of Europe and Greenland Ice sheet.

3. There is in the paleo record warming and cooling in the Southern Hemisphere that is simultaneous with the warming and cooling in the North hemisphere. If ocean currents where the cause of the warming there would be roughly a 1000 year lag.

4. When the Southern hemisphere, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the Northern hemisphere warm, the Antarctic ice cools. This phenomenon is called confusingly the Polar see-saw. The albedo of the Antarctic ice sheet is greater than the albedo of clouds. Therefore, an increase in cloud cover over the Antarctic causes warming of that ice sheet rather than cooling. The albedo of the Greenland ice sheet is less than the Antarctic ice sheet and the Greenland ice sheet is not isolated by a polar vortex and hence unlike the Antarctic ice sheet follows the temperature of the surround ocean.


Cold Water Ocean Circulation Doesn’t Work As Expected

The familiar model of Atlantic ocean currents that shows a discrete “conveyor belt” of deep, cold water flowing southward from the Labrador Sea is probably all wet.

A 50-year-old model of ocean currents had shown this southbound subsurface flow of cold water forming a continuous loop with the familiar northbound flow of warm water on the surface, called the Gulf Stream.
“Everybody always thought this deep flow operated like a conveyor belt, but what we are saying is that concept doesn’t hold anymore,” said Duke oceanographer Susan Lozier. “So it’s going to be more difficult to measure these climate change signals in the deep ocean.”

The question is how do these climate change signals get spread further south? Oceanographers long thought all this Labrador seawater moved south along what is called the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC), which hugs the eastern North American continental shelf all the way to near Florida and then continues further south.

But studies in the 1990s using submersible floats that followed underwater currents “showed little evidence of southbound export of Labrador sea water within the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC),” said the new Nature report.

Scientists challenged those earlier studies, however, in part because the floats had to return to the surface to report their positions and observations to satellite receivers. That meant the floats’ data could have been “biased by upper ocean currents when they periodically ascended,” the report added.

To address those criticisms, Lozier and Bower launched 76 special Range and Fixing of Sound floats into the current south of the Labrador Sea between 2003 and 2006. Those “RAFOS” floats could stay submerged at 700 or 1,500 meters depth and still communicate their data for a range of about 1,000 kilometers using a network of special low frequency and amplitude seismic signals.

But only 8 percent of the RAFOS floats’ followed the conveyor belt of the Deep Western Boundary Current, according to the Nature report. About 75 percent of them “escaped” that coast-hugging deep underwater pathway and instead drifted into the open ocean by the time they rounded the southern tail of the Grand Banks.

Eight percent “is a remarkably low number in light of the expectation that the DWBC is the dominant pathway for Labrador Sea Water,” the researchers wrote.

Studies led by Lozier and other researchers had previously suggested cold northern waters might follow such “interior pathways” rather than the conveyor belt in route to subtropical regions of the North Atlantic. But “these float tracks offer the first evidence of the dominance of this pathway compared to the DWBC.”


The Source of Europe’s Mild Climate
The notion that the Gulf Stream is responsible for keeping Europe anomalously warm turns out to be a myth

If you grow up in England, as I did, a few items of unquestioned wisdom are passed down to you from the preceding generation. Along with stories of a plucky island race with a glorious past and the benefits of drinking unbelievable quantities of milky tea, you will be told that England is blessed with its pleasant climate courtesy of the Gulf Stream, that huge current of warm water that flows northeast across the Atlantic from its source in the Gulf of Mexico. That the Gulf Stream is responsible for Europe’s mild winters is widely known and accepted, but, as I will show, it is nothing more than the earth-science equivalent of an urban legend.

Recently, however, evidence has emerged that the Younger Dryas began long before the breach that allowed freshwater to flood the North Atlantic. What is more, the temperature changes induced by a shutdown in the conveyor are too small to explain what went on during the Younger Dryas. Some climatologists appeal to a large expansion in sea ice to explain the severe winter cooling. I agree that something of this sort probably happened, but it’s not at all clear to me how stopping the Atlantic conveyor could cause a sufficient redistribution of heat to bring on this vast a change.


Is the Gulf Stream responsible for Europe’s mild winters?


Climate science is chock full of urban legends.

How very true! In a field dominated not by serious geophysicists, but by professors of various “soft” sciences, bona fide comprehension of the physical dynamics underlying various phenomena is pitifully scarce. And when it does surface, it is often drowned out by purveyors of simplistic narratives, such as the “great conveyor belt” view of ocean circulation.

Carl Wunsch, a leading expert on this topic, calls that particular narrative “a fairy tale for adults.” Indeed, elementary dynamical considerations reveal that the wind-driven surface currents, such as the Gulf Stream, are not dependent for their maintenance upon any thermohaline sinking of transported water masses. As long as winds continue to blow and the Earth rotates, the great surface currents will persist. Fears of a “shutdown” are simply another product of academic imagination untethered to reality.


I wonder what the cartoonist has against theropods and sauropods, ie saurischian dinosaurs. All three species in the cartoon are ornithischians.


Which I guess makes sense, since theropods survived into the Cenozoic, in the form of birds. Sauropods and ornithischians, not so much.


Now you are just talking to yourself.


The positive feedback loop of salinity-downwelling-Greenland ice melt gives the AMOC its chaotic bistability. The AMOC and Gulf Stream are driven by the salinity-downwelling positive feedback. The Gulf Stream brings high salinity water to the North Atlantic. When it cools its higher salinity makes it exceptionally dense so that it downwells all the way down to the ocean floor. This is the deep water formation in the far North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea. This deep cold dense water flows south, completing the loop of the AMOC. By doing so it in turn propels the northward Gulf Stream up on the surface, reinforcing the whole circuit with positive feedback. This feedback-reinforced AMOC considerably warms North West Europe and transports warmer water right up to the Arctic.

In the paradigm of current climate science this positive feedback at the heart of the AMOC would be assumed to be runaway and would soon be expected (projected) to turn the Atlantic Ocean into a whirling maelstrom washing machine. However in the real world of complex systems positive feedback does not do this, instead it causes self-limited excursions, oscillation and intermittency. Each “run” of the positive feedback causes eventually a negative feedback, which cuts it off. In the North Atlantic the negative feedback that cuts off the Gulf and cold downwelling feedback is Greenland ice melt and a resulting freshwater pulse, which chokes off the cold water formation and downwelling.

What results from these intermittent pulses or chaotic oscillations of the AMOC is what we call the AMO. This gives a chaotic instability to the whole NH climate.

It is not a regular 60 year oscillation. Instead it is an internal nonlinear oscillation of varying and irregular timing, with possible astrophysical (e.g. solar) external weak periodic forcing.

By contrast in the SH there is no such instability, there is no meridionally bounded ocean south of Africa and South America. In the Southern Ocean you have the unimpeded circumpolar circulation. Thus no salinity feedback driving meridional current loops. Thus in the SH both oceanography and climate are much more stable and changes occur more smoothly over much longer timescales.

This gives a reciprocating interplay of climate change between the two hemispheres.

Earth’s climate is chaotic and is always changing, such that the term “climate change” itself is unnecessary, redundant, tautological and meaningless, a badge of ignorance for those who take it on their lips.

This NH-SH interplay gives the phenomenon of the “bipolar seesaw” which operates on timescales of centuries and millennia. It provides a fully adequate null hypothesis for late 20th north hemisphere “climate change” – with the added bonus of explaining the contrasting near stasis or slight reciprocal changes in the SH.

Thus CO2 induced warming, whether or not it is a significant factor, is wholly unnecessary for explaining what really requires almost no explanation – the permanent reality of unstable and changing climate.

F. Leghorn

I don’t have a clue if you are correct but it sounds logical. For the moment you have my +1.


A very lucid explanation, in my opinion, Ptolemy2. It explains why the North Atlantic cul-de-sac is the most sensitive climate area of the planet. Everything is more intense there. More warming during the Medieval Warm Period, and more cooling during the Little Ice Age. It is also there where Dansgaard-Oeschger events take place, and where glaciations start and probably end.

If we want to be on top of climate changes that’s the place to watch.

Yogi Bear

“Drivers of ocean variability off SE Greenland
The comparison of our new SST record with a reconstruction of past changes in total solar irradiance (TSI) (Fig. 3a,b) indicates that episodes of warmer SSTs occurred during periods of low solar activity. It is particularly striking that SST maxima are largely concurrent with the well-known Wolf, Spörer, Maunder and Dalton solar minima of the LIA.”comment image


Yes, the inversion that makes Greenland warmer during periods of prolonged low solar activity due to persistent AO- and NAO- conditions has been described by several authors. But warmer doesn’t mean warm. Increased sea ice, increased storminess, and reduced summer temperatures wiped out the vikings from Greenland during the Wolf and Spörer minima.

Yogi Bear

“But warmer doesn’t mean warm. Increased sea ice”

Warmer means warmer, look at the April sea ice on the chart above.

“reduced summer temperatures wiped out the vikings from Greenland during the Wolf and Spörer minima”

No they were not wiped out through the Wolf Minimum.


No they were not wiped out through the Wolf Minimum.

5. Late Dorset culture disappears from Greenland in the second half of the 13th century.
6. The Western Settlement disappears in mid 14th century.
7. In 1408 is the Marriage in Hvalsey, the last known written document on the Norse in Greenland.
8. The Eastern Settlement disappears in mid 15th century.

The Western settlement was wiped out during the Wolf minimum, and the Eastern settlement during the Spörer minimum.

Yogi Bear

“and the Eastern settlement during the Spörer minimum”

The Spörer Minimum began around 1430, that’s too late. Cooling in the Eastern settlement would happen away from solar minima, and when NW Europe was warmer.


I think you have it wrong. The Norse Eastern settlement was alive and kicking in 1420 and is presumed to have been gone around 1450. Both dates are within the increased ¹⁴C period known as the Spörer minimum.
comment image

Yogi Bear

“The Norse Eastern settlement was alive and kicking in 1420”




Several sources

The last reported ship to reach Greenland was a private ship that was “blown off course”, reaching Greenland in 1406, and departing in 1410 with the last news of Greenland: the burning at the stake of a condemned witch, the insanity and death of the woman this witch was accused of attempting to seduce through witchcraft, and the marriage of the ship’s captain, Thorsteinn Ólafsson, to another Icelander, Sigridur Björnsdóttir.[29]

The Danish Cartographer Claudius Clavus seems to have visited Greenland in 1420, according to documents written by Nicolas Germanus and Henricus Martellus who had access to original cartographic notes and a map by Clavus. Two mathematical manuscripts containing the second chart of the Claudius Clavus map from his journey to Greenland, where he himself mapped the area, were found during the late 20th century by the Danish scholar Bjönbo and Petersen.[15]

…functioning community in 1408, while the archaeological evidence from Herjolfsnes indicates that it continued in this way at least to some point between 1425 and 1450. Anecdotal reports hint at some kind of attack in 1418, with further assaults in the period after 1420, but thereafter it is hard to be conclusive.

It is reasonably safe to presume that there still was an Eastern Settlement in the 1420s, but that by 1450 or shortly thereafter it had been abandoned.

The Northmen’s Fury: A History of the Viking World
By Philip Parker


In 1448, Pope Nicholas V wrote about the diocese in Greenland (“a region situated at the uttermost end of the earth”), lamenting that it had been without a resident bishop for about 30 years. The last ship known to visit Norse Greenland arrived c. 1420.

If we want to be on top of climate changes that’s the place to watch
Bill Illis has mentioned that somewhere a little south of the site of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation is a “waterfall” where the south flowing deep water runs over an ocean floor cliff. A location like that should be suitable for setting up flow meters and directly measuring deep water formation. Although I would assume oceanographers already have ways to quantify this flow. I agree it is an important bell-weather of the AMOC.

Yogi Bear

“Herjolfsnes indicates that it continued in this way at least to some point between 1425 and 1450.”

Why would it continue into the Sporer Minimum? because it was warmer there then of course.


That’s your interpretation. Summer temperatures were going down, the growing season was getting shorter, so they could not grow much. Analysis indicates they were relying more and more on marine food. But they lacked trees as they had already cut them and they were not growing back. So they had problems to get wood for ships and boats to get the food they could not get from land.

SST was warmer because the subpolar gyre was contributing less cold water to the North Atlantic current. That meant also more snow and less cold during the winter in Greenland. But winter temperatures were still a lot of degrees below freezing, so you don’t care they are a few degrees less cold.

It was the summers that did them in. We know spring was much colder and humid in Northern Europe during the Little Ice Age, so in Greenland they could not get warm air from the South when the Sun was not too high and the growing season started much later and was colder.

You are thinking higher SST meant people in Greenland were better off. It doesn’t. Archeology clearly shows their way of living becoming leaner, the number of farm animals decreasing.

The Inuit were also affected and going through a worse period, but they were much better adapted. Still the lean times led to conflict as they always do. Attacks were reported, but perhaps they were going both ways. This time the Norse were in the receiving end and those that didn’t left perished.

Yogi Bear

Summer temperatures there, unsurprisingly, are raised by a warm AMO phase:

Yogi Bear

“We know spring was much colder and humid in Northern Europe during the Little Ice Age”

Through the coldest years of the Dalton Minimum on CET, it’s surprising how warm many of the spring seasons were:
and several rather dry March’s:
Spring is generally wetter during a cold AMO phase:comment image


We know from historic sources that the problem with crops was essentially one of spring floods after winter heavy snows, and wet cool spring-summer seasons that caused crop failures.

From Wikipedia:

Between 1310 and 1330, northern Europe saw some of the worst and most sustained periods of bad weather in the entire Middle Ages, characterized by severe winters and rainy and cold summers.

In the spring of 1315, unusually heavy rain began in much of Europe. Throughout the spring and the summer, it continued to rain, and the temperature remained cool. Under such conditions, grain could not ripen, leading to widespread crop failures.
comment image

Crop yields followed solar activity with a 10-20 year delay. Despite the winter Arctic opposite response to solar activity, agriculture in the Norse Greenland colony declined when agriculture was declining in Northern Europe. Yearly average temperature might have been higher in Greenland during periods of low solar activity, but clearly crop growing conditions were deteriorating. We have good information about that.

Yogi Bear

“characterized by severe winters and rainy and cold summers”

That’s a reasonable generalisation, but one wet Spring in 1315 is not evidence for a general shift to wetter Spring’s. The AMO correlation show generally drier Spring seasons during a warm AMO phase.

“Crop yields followed solar activity with a 10-20 year delay.”

Baseless conjecture.

“Despite the winter Arctic opposite response to solar activity, agriculture in the Norse Greenland colony declined when agriculture was declining in Northern Europe.”

Based on your erroneous idea that summer temperatures in the Eastern Settlement would be lower when SST’s were higher. I don’t believe a word.

“Yearly average temperature might have been higher in Greenland during periods of low solar activity, but clearly crop growing conditions were deteriorating. We have good information about that.”

Let me pick that apart then…


“Crop yields followed solar activity with a 10-20 year delay.”
Baseless conjecture.

Not baseless. It is based on the graph presented. Average wheat yields in England agree well with solar activity deduced from cosmogenic isotopes abundance for the period when data is available. That period coincides with the period when the Norse Greenland colony disappeared.

Yogi Bear

The 1315-1317 English famine that you quoted was during the early part of a solar minimum, similar to the run of wet summers of 2007-2012 in this solar minimum. When we get a wet summer, it’s because of weaker solar forcings at the time causing negative NAO states, not from solar variability 10-20 years earlier.
Where is that ‘England wheat yield’ data from? it doesn’t show the shortages in the 1330’s and 1340’s:


Changes in solar activity cause changes in weather probability. Only over time those changes in weather probability accumulate to produce climate change.

The source of ‘England wheat yield’ is:
Campbell, B. M., & Gráda, C. Ó. (2011). Harvest shortfalls, grain prices, and famines in preindustrial England. The Journal of Economic History, 71(4), 859-886.

People tend to forget historic sources as a source of climate data that quite often can be trusted more than other sources of data. Climate is not only temperature, but many other things, including precipitation, and more importantly the distribution of precipitation.

When talking about living conditions in the Norse colony of Greenland, the most important factor was agricultural conditions. The fact that they were increasing their reliance on marine food sources, together from farm conditions from archeology clearly indicate that their life was getting harder due to a reduction in agricultural output. That indicates deteriorating climate conditions, regardless of SST.


The 1315-1317 English famine that you quoted was during the early part of a solar minimum

Not the early part. It was at the bottom of the Wolf minimum, that started around 1260-70.

Yogi Bear

There was no solar minimum starting in 1260-70. Their start dates with respect to the sunspot cycle maximum of the first weak cycle is; 1018, 1117, 1217, 1320, 1428, and 1550. Which agrees finely with the English weather records.


There was no solar minimum starting in 1260-70.

Too bad you don’t even have the correct dates for the grand minima. The Wolf grand minimum is usually assigned the dates 1270-1340.

So says the Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science:

And multiple articles. For example:
Vaquero, J. M., & Trigo, R. M. (2012). A note on solar cycle length during the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Solar Physics, 279(1), 289-294.

It is clear that the great European famine of 1315-17 fell in the midst of the Wolf minimum.


Yogi Bear

“Changes in solar activity cause changes in weather probability.”

Changes in weather patterns.

“Only over time those changes in weather probability accumulate to produce climate change”

Like the hysteresis of the AMO. But short term solar driven atmospheric anomalies still dominate the short term weather patterns regionally, despite feedbacks from SST’s to the NAO.


It is not a deterministic process, but a probabilistic one. A solar minimum tilts the probabilities. That’s why you still get warm years during a solar minimum. Just less of them. That’s also why you need over a decade of low solar activity for the effects to accumulate and cause a deviation of climate.

Yogi Bear

“It is not a deterministic process, but a probabilistic one. A solar minimum tilts the probabilities. That’s why you still get warm years during a solar minimum. Just less of them.”

No the cold winter episodes and cool wet summer periods as well as the warmer interludes are discretely solar driven. Negative NAO episodes increase because of an increase in weak solar wind periods, like with the dearth of coronal hole activity late 2008 to 2010. The exception of the direct correlation being instances of winter blocking where low solar can lead to positive NAO and milder and wetter conditions for NW Europe, like in Jan-Feb 2014. During solar minima, warm years tend to be close to a sunspot cycle maximum, as in 1686 and 1806, 1884, 1893, and 2014.

“That’s also why you need over a decade of low solar activity for the effects to accumulate and cause a deviation of climate.”

The only thing can accumulate over such time is ocean cycles, and the AMO can warm considerably in 5 years, driving seasonal biases, but that has nothing to do with the given NAO driven weather anomalies of individual cold winter episodes and very wet cool summer periods.

Yogi Bear

“Too bad you don’t even have the correct dates for the grand minima. The Wolf grand minimum is usually assigned the dates 1270-1340.”

Those are the correct start dates for every minimum. There were far too many hot dry NW Europe summers for 1270 to at least 1306 to be during a solar minimum.

John Harmsworth

Since the deduced cool episode of 8000 odd years ago is ancient history I’m not sure it matters an awful lot but I find myself becoming suspicious of this fresh water thermohaline idea. It’s a lot like climate science generally, or anthropology where every new bone fragment rewrites what was settled science.
Taken in context, a massive warming was under way. Enough to melt all that ice. Also, the disappearance of that ice should have meant a huge decrease in albedo. The resulting fresh water which overlay the salt water in the Atlantic would have been barely above freezing, but what was the salt water temperature coming out of an ice age? No hot tub, that’s for sure.
Seeing what goes on in climate science I conclude that all science starts with imaginative questions and ends with rigorous math. Much of science is infested with people with adequate imagination and a need to publish but who suffer from an inability to do quality math. There is a need to fix science. It may well be the single most important enterprise of modern civilization and it’s broken.

Alan Mcintire

I suspect that species of plants and animals follow a Pareto distribution. A few species with enormous populations, others with many members, and the vast number of species with very few members. When species ORIGINATE, by definition they have few members. MOST species are always nearly extinct.

As Dr. Susan Crockford has reported in detail on her site polarbearscience.com, USGS researchers confidently predicted that polar bears would die off to dangerously low levels if sea ice dropped below 3-5 million square kilometers on a regular basis.

As far as I can tell the USGS did not make such a prediction, it certainly doesn’t give those numbers in the link given in the original post. The ‘3-5 million’ number appears to have originated with Crockford.


Let’s do a fact check, the truth will out.


The prediction was commonly reported in the press. But everyone forgot that the reason polar bears went out on the ice was to catch seals. Turned out that the polar bears preferred less ice for the seals to escape to….

Walter Sobchak

The Gulf Stream is caused by the temperature difference between the tropics and the arctic (warm water expands and flows north) and the Coriolis which causes the north south flow to bend to the east. Unless CO2 affects the rotation of the planet, the Gulf Stream will not be affected by GW..



“The Gulf Stream is caused by the temperature difference “

The Gulf Stream is primarily caused by wind stress due the wind shear performed by trade winds and westerlies. The Stommel model shows that the Coriolis force induces a western intensification in the North Atlantic gyre: the Gulf Stream.
The North Atlantic Current extends the Gulf Stream north-east ward and is thermohaline circulation-driven.


“The Gulf Stream is caused by the temperature difference between the tropics”

Except that we know that any type of warming will be amplified in the Arctic – so said DeltaT will be/is being reduced.

Gunga Din

We have a dog. He’s half pure-bred dachshund and half we-don’t-know-what (other than is was a canine). We got him from a dachshund rescue place. (His mom was abandoned after the success of the interloper’s “loping”.) He and his litter are a new “species”. But…
He’s very old for a dog. I fear we’ll have to put him down before many months pass. I assume the same is true of his surviving litter mates.
When the last of them … will that be another “extinction”?

WWF claims “The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. MSNBC laments the “fact” that 100,000 species of flora and fauna will no longer be with us by next Christmas. And yet, WWF also estimates the number of identified unique species to be between 1.4 to 1.8 million, an uncertainty of 400,000. As someone said, “Anytime extinctions are claimed, ask for the names.” The debunking is done in detail here:



The whole modern mass extinction myth started with a Carl Sagan program. Sagan was down in Brazil for some conference. The conference was relative to the impacts of clearing tropical rain forest. Sagan met one of the presenters at dinner one night. Sagan has seen the presentation. The paper was basically about how many species there were in a hectare of Brazilian tropical rain forest, how many were new to science and how few of those species were found anywhere else.. Sagan and the presenter got into a discussion about extinctions. [I met the presenter a bit later in Miami, can’t remember his name.] They made an assumption in their discussion that all the species in that hectare if cleared would go extinct and they worked out the numbers on literally a napkin. Number in that hectare, times the number of hectares being cleared, etc. Next thing the presenter knows is Sagan is going around announcing to the world that we were on the verge of another mass extinction and quoted the gentleman as his source. The environmentalists pick up on Sagan’s speculation and have been running with it ever since. Anything that hints at “mass extinction” they run out as proof of the evils humans have done to the planet. Note I worked in the endangered species management game for a decade, it is intellectually and scientifically corrupt as you have found out on this site reading about such examples as polar bears, walruses, etc,

Bill Doucette

If people took the time to research co2 that climate crisis alarmists say is the cause for extreme weather and poses life threatening changes, they would see we have all be dooped/lied too/misled. Co2 levels are determined by Global Temperatures.


OUR SUN GOES THROUGH AN 11YEAR CYCLE OF LOW ACTIVITY AND HIGH ACTIVITY. STAND IN THE SHADE AND THEN STAND IN THE SUN LIGHT. NOTICE ANY DIFFERANCE? The Sun controls Earths Temperature. Not Co2 which we all need to live and going below 180 ppm co2. Our trees begin to starve. High co2 means the Erath gets greener ehich means more oxygen output for us. People need to use their minds to look into this to see its all about money that the UN pays out to anyone willing to sellout their Morals to get free cash. Any Scientists who tell the truth that co2 is good and necessary for Life on Earth do not get funded, their research is not published and their careers are threatened to tell us we are all being fed complete B.S. Co2 ALARMISTS ARE PAID TO LIE …. STOP your Governments from funding the Unelected UN because the poor are dying and suffering because our Governments are giving Billions for a Huge Fraud pushed by the U.N…. Please do research….

Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

The first few sentenes may be an error. The writer, while referring to Lake Agassiz, *may* have been thinking of the dramatic breakout of Lake *Iroquois* near Coveville NY, about 12,800 BP. Lake Iroquois had previously drained eastwards near Rome NY into the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. When the ice dam provided by a lobe of the glacier at Coveville, was breached the Lake dropped at least 100 feet (estimates range from 100 to 400 feet). An incredible volume of water flushed into the Atlantic in about a half a year!
That event *may* have triggered the Younger Dryas in Europe. (Although the dates for either side are not an actual match).
(About 300-500 years later, deglaciation opened a route down what is now the St. Lawrence River Valley which was then (pre rebound) at sea level and there was another smaller flush of freshwater into the Atlantic. This event has also been postulated as the trigger for the Younger Dryas)
There was no similar breakout event for Lake Agassiz which covered the Dakotas and most of Manitoba. It drained, variously south, east and then north as deglaciation and isostatic rebound took place.


Barnosky doesn’t talk about a mass extinction. Mass extinction events are characterized by the loss of a widespread number of species and genera from many different taxa from many different locations in a relatively short span of time (geologically). The Quaternary Megafauna Extinction was the loss of only a few genera from a single taxon. Barnosky knows it isn’t a MEE. The term great extinction is arbitrary and subjective. It is clear that it was a rapid loss of a very specific group of mammals at a much higher rate than for the previous couple of million years. As far as we are concerned the QME hasn’t ended yet. We are still in the Quaternary and we are very likely to lose more megafauna species in the future.

There have been quite a lot of mass extinctions in the past. Bambach talks about 18. All of them involved the loss of 10-60% of genera. We usually talk only about the major five.
comment image

All of them with over 45% of marine invertebrate genera.

As far as I know we haven’t loss a single marine invertebrate genus and just a few genera in recent times. We are clearly not in a mass extinction.

Climate change currently is not causing extinctions. We know why we are losing species and the recent change in climate has nothing to do with it. We bear the responsibility of most extinctions. During the exploration age there was a peak of extinctions in island fauna due to the introduction of invasive species by mankind. We are still losing some due to that. Others have been hunted to extinction, and some more due to habitat loss.

Most of the species that we have lost in the last decades are river fishes. They have been lost due to river contamination. They are very vulnerable as many of them are very endemic and have no place to go.

Whether Barnosky is correct that the QME involved a biomass trade-off with expanding humans I don’t know. It is an interesting hypothesis that is congruent with the data.

To me the reason the African megafauna was spared is that humans developed their hunting skills progressively in Africa and the megafauna there had time to adapt and avoid humans as they would do with other predators. When humans reached other continents they were already highly efficient hunters facing a naive prey. Humans targeted the megafauna preferentially because you get a lot of food from a single kill. Once they killed the megafauna prey, competing predators became extinct from lack of prey, while humans switched to other food sources. Humans didn’t kill all the megafauna but clearly they were involved in killing a good part of it, and specially all competing hominins. Our tree got pruned to a single species, and that only because we could not extinct ourselves until very recently.

Gulf Stream shut down? Quite the opposite:. it began to deliver warm water into the Arctic Ocean in the seventies. Arctic observers noticed this increase of warming and jumped on the bandwagon near the end of the seventies. There was just one problem: the warming they saw was twice as fast as their models were telling them. The discredited greenhouse warming sed by modelers is at fault most likely. They of course are being latecomrs, and have no idea of what preceded the warming they had just noticed. The fact is that at the turn of the century there was a rearrangement of the North Atlantic stream system that brought to an end to a two thousand year long stasis. Accoording to Kaufman et al. who observed it, there was nothing but a slight cooling for two thousand years, followed suddenly by an upsurge at the turn of the century. It is in my book which you obviously skipped. What folloered at the turn of the century was steady warming lasting for twenty years. To get a hang on that go and read my paper called “Arctic warming is not greenhouse warming.” By now there are two homewprks you missed and thereby failed.To continue, the initial warming of the twentieth century was followed by abrupt cooling that lasted for thirty years, frpm 1940 to 1970. It stopped there and the steady warming that is still active now started at that exact spot. By late seventies it was warm enough to attract the current crop of observers. I hate to tell you, but it is an ignorant bunch. They still think carbon dioxide did it and read the IPCC climate predictions that are way off the mark. The present Arctic warming is not caused by carbon dioxide and never was. As I mementioned before, there was a re-arrangement of the North Atlantic current system and what it did was to tweak the north-flowing Gulf Stream water that had been sp[lit between the North Sea and the Arctic to direct more of it into the Arctic. . That is the only way you can possibly start a steady long-term warming in 1970, the year of the peak of a cold wave. No amount of carbon dioxide can instantaneously overcome peak cooling. And if you have doubts about the Gulf Stream warming the Arctic, read Spielhagen et al. in Science, January 2011, pp, 450 to 453. They took a personal cruise into the Arctic and were able to scoop up warm water by hand from the Arctic ocean.


The greenies want to believe man has the ability to ruin the planet only because they want to feel powerful and then virtuous by stopping all the other “bad” people from exercising all that power.

In other words it’s all a power play.

Can’t we just sit back and watch what happens and log and correlate what happens and THEN make predictions based on FACTS instead of computer generated fairy tales? How hard could that be?

Yogi Bear

Cold extermination: One of greatest mass extinctions was due to an ice age and not to Earth’s warming


Yogi, every single major mass extinction was during rapid changes in sea level. Which indicates ice ages. The cause of all the mass extinctions including the KT extinction event was caused by a major cooling event. I haven’t seen any other explanation that fits. Cooling, decreasing moisture in the air, massive decrease in food resources, mass extinction.


Meteor impact followed by major volcanism.


Polar Bears eat seals, as long as there are seals there are polar bears. There has been a 43% increase in biomass in the arctic since 1990, there be more seals, there be more polar bears. It’s pretty simple, Bears do not eat ice. They eat seals, and seals live on the edge of the ice where there is access to both food and water and air holes. Thick multi-year ice isn’t good, no breathing holes and places to go in and out of the water and no seals and no polar bears. Seals live on ice because land is much worse for predation, and there are literally millions of seals which populations are growing. Not sure how anyone who knows bears and seals and the arctic ecosystem should be surprised.


Not sure where you get the 43% increase, but I believe the gist of it — more sunlight penetrating the water (instead of being reflected), more zooplankton activity, which is the base of the food chain.

Yogi Bear

That 8.2 kyr cooling in Greenland must have been an intensely positive North Atlantic Oscillation regime. Which means a faster AMOC, and faster trade winds too.

Extreme Hiatus

No wonder Greenies are concerned about blocking the Gulfstream:

“DiCaprio took the private jet to Cannes, then back to New York to pick up the environmental award, and then shuttled back to Cannes…

Just how much fuel did that particular 12,000-kilometer environmental round-trip junket consume? No one knows for sure, but we can estimate it. The round trip involved around 16 hours of flight time – if not more – in a longer range private jet, e.g. a Gulfstream G450, which has a fuel capacity of 29,500 lbs, or approx. 16,000 liters. For the 16-hour long haul roundtrip, refueling once, such a jet would need close to 30,000 liters of fuel – fuel that gets burned right where greenhouse gases are claimed to be the most effective.”


James R McCown

Does anyone know how many glacial periods have occurred during the current Quaternary ice age?


Warm periods are given odd numbers and cold periods even numbers. The Quaternary count ends at 104 2.6 million years ago. That would make 52 cold periods. However by eye I count only 45 periods that would qualify as glacial. Obviously in general the older they are the milder they appear, as there has been a progressive cooling of the planet.


When I was studying there were only four, that I had to learn their names in German. Würm, Mindel, Riss, and Günz. As a kid you believe everything you are told at school. Then you grow up and find many things you are told are not true, and learn to become skeptic.


Javier – Agreed.

But the names given [I believe, IIRC, those of small Alpine communities] were Günz; Mundell; Riss; & Würm [in alphabetical order]. The then namers [1920s???] suspected, at least, that there may have been ‘other’ interspersed, Ice Ages [of whatever duration] – so allowed future researchers considerable scope to intersperse names related to later discoveries.
But if there are 45 – or 52 – the early namers underestimated the complexity of the ‘Ice Ages’. Or Ice Ages, like nematodes [say] have splitters . . . . . . .
I have no expertise to judge!



Sorry – should have added –
“Günz; Mundell; Riss; & Würm [in alphabetical order] – earliest to latest”.



Problem was that the four most recent, more dramatic glacial advances extended farther than the prior ones, so that their traces upon the land were obscured, if not erased.

Later on Würm and Riss were replaced by Weichsel and Saale with Eem in between.
The new numbers were not sufficient, for example, the Eemian has MIS number 5e.


Global map of human pressure free lands with a contiguous area >10,000 km².
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Figure 2 : The extent of pressure free lands in 1993 (purple) and 2009 (green)

J.R. Allan, O. Venter & J.E.M. Watson. Temporally inter-comparable maps of terrestrial wilderness and the Last of the Wild. Scientific Data 4, Article number: 170187 (2017) doi:10.1038/sdata.2017.187

There is less and less of the world left for nature as we expand and increase our numbers. Between 1993 and 2009 the decrease was of 10%.


Please tell the cougars, black bear, coyotes, whitetail deer and rats that they have less space now. They haven’t gotten the message. Thanks.


No. They are now living in places that are not free of human pressure.


They must like human pressure then, since their ranges and numbers are expanding.

Extreme Hiatus

Right on Gabro. You can add many species to that list. This map and the false thinking behind it assumes that wildlife cannot adapt. It is made worse by its simpleton human ‘pressure free’ basis.

This is just another example of the ‘humans bad/wildlife good’ story sold by the eco-crisis industry and their handlers.

At the Permian extinction event the world’s oceans turned anoxic. The entire ocean became a rancid yellow-orange at the surface, black below 10m depth. Marine species extinctions approached 100%, only scattered oxygenated refuges prevented total annihilation of marine flora and fauna.

It is hysterical and deeply ignorant / dishonest exaggeration to even imply that recent anthropogenic extinction come anywhere near the severity of the end Permian extinction. They did not.