We recently had a request for CJ Ramstad’s last column before his passing. This is a great read for snowmobilers relating to the weather and false claims made by environmentalists. Below is the article in its entirety from Supertrax Volume 18, #4.
I was mailed an unrequested fundraising 2007 calendar from one of the green groups recently that declared on its cover that the Earth is experiencing the warmest weather in 1000 years. Silly on many levels, this is the kind of trash we hear more and more lately.
Is this a case of a snowmobiler in denial? Fact is, I’ve spent the last 18 months studying the Arctic and the polar ice cap as part of research for my book about the snowmobilers who went to the North Pole in 1968. I know from my studies these kinds of over-the-top statements about our climate and where it’s going are bogus … and I have proof.
First, let’s do the math. A thousand years ago, it was 1007. The thermometer wasn’t even invented until 1724 so any temperatures reported before then are, by definition, approximations and guesswork. It is possible to tell if one season centuries ago was warmer than another by testing for changing values of oxygen-18 isotopes in glacial ice cores. Scientists know warmer weather creates more of the isotope, cooler weather produces less. But the cores don’t tell the ancient temperature.
We know from the Icelandic Sagas descendants of the Vikings were raising rye and ponies in two colonies on Greenland in 1007. Things were different in Greenland then at least partly because the Earth was right in the middle of an era scientists and historians call the Medieval Warm Period.
This is a well-documented climate change event today’s global warming folks would like you to ignore. Starting in about 800 A.D., this was a seven centuries-long time of warm weather on Earth’s northern hemisphere that persisted until the advent of the Little Ice Age that held much of the world in its grip from about 1400 until the mid-19th century. Mind you, this was all happening well before humans were emitting any greenhouse gasses.
It was during the Medieval Warm Period that much of the North Atlantic Arctic was explored or at least defined by sailing ships. The Vikings got started in about 600, plundering Scotland and England and colonizing Iceland and Greenland for the next 500 years.
But with the coming of the cooler Little Ice Age period, human activities in the high latitudes dropped off. The Vikings got religion, the European Greenlanders disappeared and ice choked the northern seas.
Interest in the Arctic picked up in the 19th century when the oceans warmed up again. Whalers sailing the northern oceans as the Little Ice Age was coming to an end reported lots of melting in the high latitudes, similar in some ways to what we hear today.
One famous Scottish whaling captain, William Scoresby, Jr., reported in his Account of the Northern Region that the ice that today blocks the straits between the Nordic island of Svalbard and the northern coast of Greenland was gone, making him believe a passage by ship over the top of the island was possible. That melting was witnessed in 1817, less than 200 years ago.
Failed presidential candidate Al Gore has been on TV showing movies of glaciers calving in Greenland, saying this is proof of global warming. Increased calving is actually proof of increased snowfall in glacier areas, but I’ll give Gore this much: It is possible, even likely, the climate is changing in Greenland now, just like it has in the relatively recent past. I mean relatively like during the time we’ve been flying around in airplanes.
It’s known that sea temperatures around the island warmed early in the last century, causing problems for seal hunters. This warming turned out to be short term however, and seas turned cooler again by the 1950s and good seal hunting returned, along with increased Inuit habitation, in southern Greenland.
Just 40 years ago, during a period between 1959 and 1974, exceptionally cold weather was experienced in southern Greenland, particularly along the western coast where the icy West Greenland Current flows south out of the Arctic Ocean. During this 15 year period seal populations again plummeted, this time because persistent summer pack ice prevented the previous migratory feeding behavior.
Mind you, these changes have taken place during the lifetimes of people living today. A warm-up during the Roaring Twenties, a cooldown in the 1950s, a really cold period in the 60s and early 70s, all taking place in Greenland within the last 80 years. This is a place with a volatile climate that has seen many changes in the last 100 years and the last 1000 years, too.
The polar ice cap is also volatile weather-wise, but Al Gore is no expert on this and neither are Americans in general; the U.S. only began collecting data on the ice cap in 1979 just as the second-coldest period in the Arctic in a century was coming to an end. Was the ice abnormally expanded by this cold period and is now shrinking?
But let’s not say abnormal, OK? The weather is always normal … constantly changing in Greenland, Minnesota, at the North Pole and everywhere.