Wait a second… hold on… there might have been a time when the Earth was warmer?


I’m still recovering from the news folks. I can’t believe it. Originally found in just one news report saying that yes, the Earth is getting warmer. Dangerous stuff.

Dangerous stuff… and yes… I know… nothing shocking there. Right? After all, virtually every one of the reports on climate change and the planet report that Earth is getting warmer.

We’ve been hearing about global warming and all sorts of stuff… greenhouse gases… arctic ice melting… blah-blah-blah. But that one report shocked me.


Because at its heart it said that the planet is warmer now than at any time in the past 400 years.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Ok… one more time… the evidence suggests the planet is warmer today than at any time during the past 400 years.

Now I can’t speak for you, but I have several problems with that claim. For instance... ok, just what was happening 400 years ago that might have caused warmer temperatures? Today they tell me things like it’s my car. The fuels being used. The aerosols being sprayed. Oceans are rising and I need to know that it’s me and my friends tearing down the trees and causing it.

(By the way… good point to state this quite clearly… I absolutely, without hesitation, agree that very few people are properly concerned about the way we treat the planet and the environment. We are horrible about it. The pollution we create. They we way handle our trash. Awful. This is not an essay saying global warming is a myth, or that we are as a whole just fine in how we approach the environment.)

Before we go hugging the nearest tree as a result of this report though… help me out, because unless I’m reading it wrong… the article and many others I’ve since read like it are saying there may have been a time when the Earth was warmer. Yes? So, if we survived back then when people were likely completely ignorant of the problem… doesn’t it make sense we should be able to survive now? (Important note… we’re still ignorant.)

Oh sure, it may not have been 400 years ago. I read the full article and learned that quote was a bit off. It was just a blurb for the story. Those numbers came from the idea that research and historical evidence becomes significantly less reliable around that point. Fine. I can understand that. I could even accept it. Except for one small thing. See, that less reliable evidence when you go back beyond 400 years doesn’t mean the concept of a warmer planet in the past is a remote and far from likely possibility that they simply can’t eliminate from consideration. In fact, they claim it is possible things were worse as far as temperatures in the past. Several articles I read (and checked out in a variety of places and sources) claimed that the warming found in the past ten, twenty and fifty years has no equal for more than one thousand years. (Strong start.) But then all of them offered up a slight disclaimer about moments where relatively warm temperatures did exist around the year 1000.

Does anyone know what kind of cars they were driving in 1006? My books are a bit sketchy on that. I haven’t been able to Google an answer yet either.

And oh yeah… that’s just the past 1,000 years. Doesn’t the Earth go back a bit before that?

And, umm… the last time I checked, 1,000 years ago was longer than 400 years ago.

Ok. Deep breath. Let’s take it easy on this in general. While I really love getting e-mail from people, I’m not looking for a bunch of my wonderful guests or loyal visitors here at In My Backpack to accuse me of not being aware of what is going on. As I mentioned just a few paragraphs ago, I’m quite aware there are problems. I’m aware we can do more. Even read an informative article about San Pedro just today, where a tiny island is greatly concerned about the health of its reef.

Instead, I just want to go back to the concept that the more we learn, the less we know. Modify that concept any way you want. To me, this study is basically saying that the world is in a delicate balance… and, in so many ways, always has been. Go figure, that balance has constantly been threatened over time. Whether cars… cows… volcanoes… asteroids… whatever… there have been threats to certain parts of the world for ages upon ages.

I’m not happy when I hear and read reports about the disappearing reefs. Swimming and snorkeling and diving in the Florida Keys and off the coast of Australia have provided some of the most incredible memories of my life.

It just seems like this report doesn’t say exactly what they were hoping it would say. And, even if you interpret it as providing information that does say it, it comes with that beautiful final summary (my words): “Yeah, this is what we think. But we can’t be sure.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A few hours after forming this article, I came across another story (USA Today posting of an Associated Press report from John Heiprin). And I found the perfect concept within that story of what I am trying to say here.

“There is nothing in this report that should raise any doubts about the broad scientific consensus on global climate change.” That’s a quote attributed to Republican Representative Sherwood Boehlert of New York.

Use the link… go read the article.

Now… did you see anything to explain why it might have been warmer 2,000 years ago?

Me either.

Please don’t get me wrong… I understand the basic premise here. Primarily they’re saying it hasn’t been this warm in 400… 1,000… 2,000 years because that’s the length of time they can research. So be it.

I also understand they’re pointing out the damage being done during our time on the planet has no historical equal. True enough.

And yet… I’m still missing where they are saying there is absolutely no time in history when Earth has faced conditions this bad before. Nature finds a way.

All of that said… do I honestly believe the world had it worse before than it does now? No. I don’t. I believe we’ve done significant damage to the planet, on a scale far worse than what it has probably faced at any other point. We need to pay attention. We need to do better.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com