Following up on Science, free speech, and climate change: I (news writer O’Leary) don’t tend to cover climate change much. It’s a topic you’d have to cover for years to get a good gripn. And where I live, the seasons are Winter, winter, winter, and road construction, or anyway that is how it often feels. That said, at Forbes Mag,, Peter Ferrara offers an article on evidence for global cooling, which sheds some light on the Little Ice Age in Europe:
The height of the Little Ice Age is generally dated as 1650 to 1850 A.D. The American Revolutionary Army under General George Washington shivered at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78, and New York harbor was frozen in the winter of 1780. Historic snowstorms struck Lisbon, Portugal in 1665, 1744 and 1886. Glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana advanced until the late 18th or early 19th centuries. The last River Thames Frost Fair was held in 1814. The Little Ice Age phased out during the middle to late 19th century.
The Little Ice Age, following the historically warm temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period, which lasted from about AD 950 to 1250, has been attributed to natural cycles in solar activity, particularly sunspots. …
The increase in global temperatures since the late 19th century just reflects the end of the Little Ice Age.
Some of us have wondered whether the Little Ice Age was one of the drivers of the Industrial Revolution and/or colonialism. Europeans had not been nearly so anxious to innovate or move during the Medieval Warm Period. But they sure were later.
Meanwhile, a friend sends me this comment by Noam Chomsky in the Toronto Star (November 14, 2005):
Intelligent design raises the question of whether it is intelligent to disregard scientific evidence about matters of supreme importance to the nation and the world — like global warming.
A classic. Chomsky assumes that the planet must be warming up, catastrophe is imminent, and people must be stupid not to believe it. Maybe also so stupid as to think that the universe shows evidence of design?
But just a minute. It is usually a sign of intelligence to disbelieve things that one’s own experience disconfirms and to doubt claims about imminent catastrophes. If people are not experiencing warming, they may doubt it without being stupid (even if it happens to be true). The same people may doubt that the neighbourhood is full of spies who need to be lynched, despite a hysterical politician’s claims, because that just isn’t their experience. And few would think them wrong in principle to make experience the basis for judgement.
Note: Curiously, Chomsky, though comfortable with naturalist/materialist accounts in general, doubted Darwin. (“Tom Bethell on Noam Chomsky’s dissent from Darwin,” Uncommon Descent, February 11, 2012)