Sunday, April 5, 2009

Holocene Denial Syndrome

First came the holocaust--a horrible mass-murder, a genocide, in that day condemned by one and all. Then came the holocaust deniers, people who were rightly condemned for denying the obvious killing of 6 million people. Then came the idea of global warming; and in the rush to shut up anyone who doubted what the global warming community, with its political allies, said, the term 'global warming denier' was coined. Besides denigrating the severity of opprobrium which should be given to holocaust deniers, the term attempts to transfer some of that opprobrium to those who would dare disagree with this political, not science, movement. Such things are done in political movements, not in scientific movements--or it should be that way, unfortunately such terminological predjudices are used everywhere. Since I can't stop it, I will join in the fun.

Thus, I will define my own term, Holocene deniers. What is a Holocene denier? It is a global warming advocate who refuses to deal with the geological data showing that all of the things they fear have already been visited upon the earth, in the Holocene, the geologic epoch which occupies the last 10,000 years of earth history. What are the predictions ? Well, every thing that comes from higher temperatures. The predictions of temperature rise this century hover around 2-3 deg C warming. That will melt some of the glacial ice causing the oceans to rise by 18-59 cm, about half a meter. (Wikipedia) The IPCC2007 says that the present temperatures, which everyone fears greatly is the highest temperatures in the past 1300 years.

"Palaeoclimatic information supports the interpretation that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years. The last time the polar regions were significantly warmer than present for an extended period (about 125,000 years ago), reductions in polar ice volume led to 4 to 6 m of sea level rise. {6.4, 6.6}" (IPCC, 2007)

But this is the most amazing statement. If all we can say about the present climate is that we are no warmer than 700-800AD, that clearly argues that the present warmth is in no way unprecedented nor scary. But, everyone loves a good scary story, which is why the horror genre sells so well.

Given the above statement from the IPCC, anyone who says that the current warmth is unprecedented in human history is a Holocene denier. They are denying what happened in the last 10,000 years.

The above information, from the IPCC implies strongly that if we have seen this before, as well as before the Holocene, why should we consider the present temperature increase as anything other than a natural fluctuation.

Now it is interesting that the figure 1300 years is used, because 1000 years ago, the forests grew higher up the hills in Siberia than they do now. That means it was warmer then than now.

"While the decomposition rate of Pinus sibirica and Picea obovata remnants in the cold and dry Siberian climate is unknown, stumps and logs of Larix sibirica can be preserved for hundreds of years [Shiyatov, 1992]. Above the treeline in the Polar Urals such relict material from large, upright trees were sampled and dated, confirming the existence, around AD 1000, of a forest treeline 30 m above the late 20th century limit [Shiyatov, 2003]. This previous forest limit receded around 1350, perhaps caused by a general cooling trend [Briffa, 2000; Esper et al., 2002]." (Esper and Schweingruber, 2004, p. L06202)

Using the adiabatic lapse rate, the rate at which the air gets cooler as one goes up, one can calculate that Siberia was at least .2 deg C warmer then than it is now. Those who think we are the warmest time in history are Holocene deniers--denying what has happened in the past 10,000 years.

Not only that, the Siberian treeline was further north then

December 1998
"The migration of trees into the region is expressed at our site by the macrofossil pattern of larch (Larix siberica) and birch (Betula pubescens) arrival, followed by spruce (Picea obovata). About six thousand years ago, spruce trees moved even further northward. Climate at that time was warmer than today. Since that time, however, the treeline retreated to its present position, and tundra replaced the old trees. The redevelopment and spread of peatland resulted in increases in moisture and acidity. This vast spread of tundra within the last few millennia indicates that climate cooled after the mid-Holocene warming." (Anonymous, NASA,)

And this is from NASA. It seems that the 'consensus' that the modern temperature should be a danger isn't as consensual as it is often claimed.

If one goes back to a time before the Holocene, to that of the last interglacial, one finds that the trees were 600 km north and west of their present location and some studies say that the trees were at the arctic coast line. (

But more importantly, there is one fact that is true. Trees don't grow in permafrost. So, if the trees were further north a few thousand years ago, that means that the pemafrost, of which Holocene deniers fear is melting, wasn't there a few millennia ago. That means that the permafrost they fear melting is NEW permafrost. It isn't primordial. Indeed one source says that much of it is only 300-400 years old. They call it Little Ice Age permafrost. That means it formed since 1300 AD, just when those older forests in Siberia were dying.

" Thawing of the Little Ice Age permafrost is going on at many locations and there are some indications that the late-Holocene permafrost started to thaw at some specific undisturbed locations in the European North-East, in the northwest of West Siberia, and in Alaska. Some projections of possible changes in permafrost during the current century based on application of calibrated permafrost models will be provided in our presentation. The possible consequences of permafrost degradation will also be discussed.” (Romanovsky et al, 2008, p. 397)

The hysterical Holocene deniers are worried that the permafrost will melt, giving off huge quantities of methane and tipping the world into a runaway greenhouse. But, this permafrost they fear melting wasn't frozen 700 years ago at the time that the IPCC implies had a warmer temperature than the present.

What about the glaciers? Well, if the temperature rises, the glaciers will melt. But, once again, the Holocene deniers deny that this all happened before but it has. In mid-Norway, there are glaciers today. Before 6400 years ago, there were no glaciers there. This knowledge can be used to infer how much warmer it was then than it is now. It was 1 deg C warmer then than now.

“Neoglaciation began as early as Ca. 6400 yr B.P. at Gjuvvatnet, ca. 3400 yr B. P. At Midtivatnet, and later than ca. 1000 yer B. P. At Storevatnet. These differences in glacierization provide a key to reconstructing the fluctuating decline in mean summer temperature (relative to the present) from at least +1 o C during the mid-Holocene to below -2o C in the ‘Little Ice Age.” (Matthews and Karlen, 1992, p. 991)

In the picture below, he glaciers (in black) weren't there 5000 years ago or so.

And what of sea level then? Well, because it was warmer than now, the seas were higher. Below is the band of possible sea levels along the Paraguayan coast over the mid- to late-Holocene. Note that the seas were higher.

All along the east coast of the US is the Silver Bluff strandline that sits a few meters above current sea level. (Colquhoun, 1969). Blum et al note that the Texas coast showed that during the Holocene Climatic Optimum, the seas were 2 meters higher

"These models provide plausible explanations for much of the observed variability in Pirazzoli’s (1991) global compilation of Holocene sea-level curves, including observations of middle Holocene sea-level positions at 2 to 3 m above present for many low-latitude sites outside of North America" (Blum et al, 2001, p. 581)

Namibia, likewise shows evidence of this highstand

The radiocarbon ages of mollusc shells from the Bogenfels Pan on the hyper arid southern coast of Namibia provide constraints on the Holocene evolution of sea level and, in particular, the mid-Holocene highstand. The Bogenfels Pan was flooded to depths of 3 m above mean sea level (amsl) to form a large subtidal lagoon from 7300 to 6500 calibrated radiocarbon years before present (cal yr BP). " (Compton, 2006, p. 303)

Australia also shows evidence of higher seas at this time. There are beaches sitting a couple of meters above sea level there as well, dated to the same time

The catastrophe? Nada. There was no catastrophe, even with the seas 2 meters higher then than now. But the Holocene deniers keep trying to say that all these coming changes are due to man, that they are outside of the natural variation, which means, they are denying the Holocene.

Reefs, not reefers, anyone? Holocene deniers worry about the rising seas killing off the reefs. But, of course, this too has happened and the Holocene deniers deny it.

" I have recently shown that modern breakwater reefs around Grand Cayman lie at a uniform distance (300+ or -50 m) from a mid-shelf slope break, and have suggested that this distance is proportional to the power and carrying capacity of hurricane waves (Blanchon et al. 1997; J. Sed. Res. 67, p. 1-16). During the summer of '96, I tested this prediction by drilling 300 m back from the shelf edge with the hope of finding relict breakwater reefs associated with the mid-Holocene sea-level lowstand from ca. 11.0 to 7.6 cal. ka. Here I confirm that prediction and report the successful discovery of the crest of a relict Acropora palmata reef off the eastern shelf of Grand Cayman. Ten short cores drilled at 4 localities along the feature show that the crest of the relict reef lies in 21.3 m of water and consists not of in-place coral framework but of cobbles of A. palmata in a cemented matrix of skeletal sand. The surface of the relict reef, which slopes seaward to 23.5 m, is encrusted by a cm-thick layer of coralline algae and is abruptly overlain by up to one metre of mixed-coral framework containing stumps of in-place A palmata and other corals. Although dating (U/Th TIMS) is still in progress, the depth of the relict breakwater reef is close or identical to the depth of relict reefs reported from other Caribbean islands. Dating of those reefs indicates that they ceased accreting between 7.6 and 7.5 cal. ka ago and had backstepped to new positions 6.5+ or -2.5 m up slope by at least 7.5 cal. ka. This abrupt backstepping, and the discovery of yet another relict reef around Grand Cayman, further indicates that Caribbean reefs were drowned by a rapid, metre-scale, sea-level rise event (CRE-3) during the mid-Holocene climatic optimum. " (Blanchon, 1997, p. 112 )

The Holocene highstand drowned many reefs around the world, and guess what? the reefs re-established themselves in the warmer world with higher sea levels. That is what reef polyps do--they figure out how to survive in changing conditions just like every other organism. There is no sign that they will die either with higher seas or higher CO2. If the seas warm, the reefs will move northward as they have in the past when the seas warmed. Given the fear among the Holocene deniers, one would think they believe in the fixity of species.

Holocene deniers always criticise others for not paying attention to science, while, they deny the science of geology, especially the Holocene science of geology. Unfortunately, Holocene deniers will deny this.

Anonymous, NASA, "The Ancient Treeline and the Carbon Cycle in the Siberian Arctic"

Blanchon, Paul, "Mid-Holocene reef-drowning event; new evidence from Grand Cayman" (in Geological Society of America, 1997 annual meeting, Anonymous,)
Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America (1997), 29(6):112

Blum, Michael, et al, “Middle Holocene Sea-Level rise and Highstand at +2 m, Central Texas Coast, “JOURNAL OF SEDIMENTARY RESEARCH, VOL. 71, NO. 4, JULY, 2001, P. 581–588, p. 581

Cape Last Interglacial Project Members, “Last Interglacial arctic warmth confirms polar amplification of climate change”, Quaternary Science Reviews Volume 25, Issues 13-14, July 2006, 1383-1400, p. 1385-1387

Colquhoun, D.J., 1969, Coastal plain terraces in the Carolinas and Georgia, U.S.A.: in Wright, H.E., Jr., editor, Quaternary Geology and Climate: Volume 16 of the Proceedings of the VII Congress of the International Association for Quaternary Research, v. 16, p. 150-162

Compton, John S. The mid-Holocene sea-level highstand at Bogenfels Pan on the southwest coast of Namibia Quaternary Research (September 2006), 66(2):303-310

Esper, Jan and Fritz H. Schweingruber, “Large-Scale Treeline Changes Recorded in Siberia,” Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 31, no. 6, March 16, 2004., p. L06202,

IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. , p. 9

Matthews, John A. “Asynchronous Neoglaciation and Holocene Climatic Change Reconstructed from Norwegian Glaciolacustrine Sedimentary Sequences,” Geology, 20(1992):991

Romanovsky, Vladimir, and Guido Grosse, and Sergei Marchenko Past, present, and future of permafrost in a changing world (in Geological Society of America, 2008 annual meeting, Anonymous,) Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America (October 2008), 40(6):397


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