Important evidence has emerged showing summer temperatures in the high Alps were up to 7°C higher between 4,000 BC and around AD 700. Archaeologists in the Austrian Alps have uncovered remarkable remains that suggest European bison were able to feed at much higher altitudes than today, a process, they note, that could only happen if the average summer temperature was at least 3-6°C higher. Even more remarkable is the discovery of pollens on animal remains that indicate a climate approximately 4-7°C warmer.
The promotion of the net-Zero political agenda often ignores findings showing higher temperatures in the recent Holocene past as the Earth rapidly sprang out of an ice age 12,000 years ago. Typical comments come from a London-based educational charity Climate Science that runs school climate clubs, and is ‘partnered’ with a number of wealthy green activist foundations. It noted recently that changes in temperature “were very gradual” with average global temperatures not changing by more than ~0.5°C over the past 10,000 years. In literature distributed to school children, it claims that the rise of 1.1°C since 1880 would have taken “thousands to millions of years” absent man-made carbon emissions. Such explanations of course sidestep awkward questions about the claimed dominant role of carbon dioxide in warming the climate of the planet. Carbon dioxide levels were lower at the start of the Holocene than they are today.
The Austrian findings confirm other evidence that suggests significant global warming was a feature of the recent past across the planet. Two studies reported in the Daily Sceptic point to similar higher temperatures. The first is said to show that it was warm enough 8,000 to 5,000 years ago for the plant Ceratopteris to have grown at 40°N in northern China. These days the plant’s limit is 34°N, suggesting that winter temperatures in the past were 7.7°C higher than today. Another warmth threshold species study argued that the Arctic Svalbard needed to have been 6°C warmer than today during the early Holocene. That’s because 9,000 years ago, molluscs survived 1,000km north of where they are currently found.
The bison remains discovered recently in the eastern Austrian Alps were found at elevations between 1,440 and 1,923 metres. European bison lived in deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous forests. In particular, deciduous plants are required in their diets. In the Alps today, bison would prefer mixed oak or mixed beech-fir forests. The bison remains found were all in the subalpine to alpine zone. From this, state the archaeologists, it can be concluded that the beech limit, but also the forest line, during the period 4,000 BC to AD 700 was much higher “and the average summer temperature had to be at least 3-6°C higher”.
Even more remarkable, continue the authors, was the discovery of pollens belonging to alder, oak and linden trees. They noted that the oak boundary today lies between 400 and 800 metres in the northern Alpine Alps. Oaks at an altitude of 1,450 metres around 2,000 years ago indicate a climate between 4-7°C warmer than today. The authors also refer to recent paleo research of stone pines that is said to support this climatological interpretation.
In fact, this evidence-based interpretation would suggest that the Roman Warming Period of the time was even hotter than is generally thought. This should not be a surprise since the planet has seen countless significant temperature rises and falls in the past. Many of these are being downplayed by climate activists as they seek to promote a command-and-control net-Zero agenda. This rests on the increasingly improbable assumption that current temperature movements are mostly, if not all, the result of human activities.
Far from being unprecedented, there is growing evidence that similar changes in temperature are ubiquitous across paleoclimatic history stretching back 300 million years to the Jurassic era. And in the recent past, two American geologists recently found that over half the Arctic’s glaciers and ice caps that exist today did not exist or were smaller 10,000 to 3,000 years ago. At the time, atmospheric CO2 ranged between 260 to 270 ppm, compared to the current 410 ppm. At the peak of this interglacial Arctic warming, temperatures were noted to be several degrees warmer than today. Change in the size of glaciers and ice caps over the last few centuries “is but a partial return to a former period of much greater warmth”, the geologists stated.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.