Monday, February 04, 2008

Climate Change

Global warming comes to China.

Some parts of China have seen their worst weather in 100 years this winter, with the recent snowfalls the biggest in that time, a meteorological official told Agence France-Presse.

'For some provinces such as Hubei and Hunan (both in central China), it's been the biggest snowfall in 100 years,' said an official at the China Meteorological Administration's publicity department.

'Other provinces have had the biggest snowfall in 50 years. Others again, the biggest snowfall in decades,' said the official, who declined to be named.

It's a good thing so many environmentalists are doing their utmost to try and reduce the temperature even further, isn't it?

The extreme weather had affected more than 77.86 million people in 14 provinces by 2 p.m. on Monday. Direct economic losses were estimated at 22.09 billion yuan (about 3 billion U.S. dollars).

About 6.87 million hectares of crops were affected in 16 province-level areas as of Tuesday morning, with total crop failures of 735,333 ha.

The latest official figures showed that the bad weather had claimed 24 lives as of 2:00 p.m. on Jan. 28. However, a traffic accident in the southwestern province of Guizhou on Tuesday morning added 25 to the toll.

I keep hearing that the climate has changed because of man's dastardly desire for a better standard of living but the one thing that environmentalists haven't made clear yet is which period of climate in history will they be happy with? The Little Ice Age perhaps, which ended in the 1800s when we're told that man's actions- the Industrial Revolution- caused temperatures to rise.

The Little Ice Age brought bitterly cold winters to many parts of the world, but is most thoroughly documented in Europe and North America. In the mid-17th century, glaciers in the Swiss Alps advanced, gradually engulfing farms and crushing entire villages. The River Thames and the canals and rivers of the Netherlands often froze over during the winter, and people skated and even held frost fairs on the ice. The first Thames frost fair was in 1607; the last in 1814, although changes to the bridges and the addition of an embankment affected the river flow and depth, hence the possibility of freezes. The freeze of the Golden Horn and the southern section of the Bosphorus took place in 1622. In 1658 a Swedish army marched across ├śresund to Denmark and invaded Copenhagen. The winter of 1794/1795 was particularly harsh when the French invasion army under Pichegru could march on the frozen rivers of the Netherlands, whilst the Dutch fleet was fixed in the ice in Den Helder harbour. In the winter of 1780, New York Harbor froze, allowing people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island. Sea ice surrounding Iceland extended for miles in every direction, closing that island's harbors to shipping.

The Little Ice Age by anthropology professor Brian Fagan of the University of California at Santa Barbara, tells of the plight of European peasants during the 1300 to 1850 chill: famines, hypothermia, bread riots, and the rise of despotic leaders brutalizing an increasingly dispirited peasantry. In the late 17th century, writes Fagan, agriculture had dropped off so dramatically that "Alpine villagers lived on bread made from ground nutshells mixed with barley and oat flour." Finland lost perhaps a third of its population to starvation and disease.

Given the amount of money that governments are spending on the "problem" of our changing climate, perhaps they'd like to be a bit clearer on when they want the temperature to stabilise?

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