Is wine a good proxy for temperature changes

To all those reading my articles for the first time, a word of warning. I am a self-described luke warmer. This means that:

  • I am positive about the existence of Global Climate Change;
  • I do question the significance of the human part for causing it;

Are you sure you want to read on? You have been warned.

Climate Change is real. It has been real since this planet had cooled down enough for an atmosphere to build up.

The earliest atmosphere the Earth had was mostly carbon dioxide. Yes, you read that right. The very gas that Climate Alarmists accuse of wanting us all dead dominated our very earliest atmosphere. It was produced by volcanic outgassing over hundreds of millions of years. 

But this is not a story about the evolution of our atmosphere. I did that in an earlier blog post.

This is a story about proxies that allow us to make conclusions about past climate change. And I will not even go back millions of years. I will stay within a much less daunting timeframe. 

Let’s look at the last 2000 years.

Why 2000 you say? Well, the mechanics I will be talking about were as valid 100K years ago as they were yesterday. But, the evidence we get from even earlier times is getting incredibly fuzzy the farther one looks back. And also because 2000 years ago, the most bean-counting empire to date dominated the Mediterranean. 


Why does that matter? 

According to Climate Alarmist dogma, the current warm period is unique. And its uniquely caused by the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. One thing the Alarmist camp was never able to explain were two other warm periods that happened during the last 2000 years. There were plenty more before that but let’s stay focused on what’s closest to us for now.

The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) lasted from before the turn of the Millenium into the thirteenth century. The Roman Warm Period (RWP) produced its effects from around 250 BC to 400 AD.

All those were global changes and not regional events as proposed by Alarmist media.  Thousands of ice cores from all over the globe have confirmed that by now.

What’s our biggest problem with those Warm Periods? Right. We can’t go back and measure the temperature anymore. It’s like the claim that the turret clock at the Tour de l’Horloge in Paris has not stopped for hundreds of years. If it did, how would we know?

So we are forced to work with proxies. A proxy is something we can observe today that gives us clues about what happened in earlier times. Serious scientists can sometimes deduce amazing stuff with those things. They also sometimes make up ridiculous correlations where there is none

Michal Mann used tree rings for the famous Hockey stick. He did this to substantiate his temperature assumptions. Tree rings are good for determining age. You count them. But temperature? That’s a mighty stretch. That’s why the Hockey stick theory is debunked among Climate Scientists today. Only hardcore dogmatic Warmists still bring it out from time to time to impress those clueless on the topic.

Other proxies have been used to guestimate what the real temperature could have been. They include:

  • Pollen;
  • Glaciers and their leave-behinds;
  • Deep Ocean Sediments;
  • Mollusk Shells and;
  • of course the famous Antarctic ice drilling cores. 

All shed really interesting data on what the temperature might have been.

At this point, let me repeat. We cannot go back and look at a thermometer. There were not even thermometers back then. So no real records other than someone writing about good or bad weather can exist.

So, those proxies are so fuzzy as they always come with a load of mush and assumptions. Are there some that cannot be argued with?

Here is where the Roman Empires’ proclivity for counting beans and keeping books comes in handy. It just so happens that we have much more information on what happened when Christ walked the Earth than what happened at the time of Charlemagne. 

In 43 AD, the then Roman emperor Claudius kicked off the conquest of Britannica. General Aulus Plautius became its first governor. And as Romans did, he began to transform society from Celtic dominance towards the later Romano-British culture. Rome dominated the island for about 400 years. This is longer than the Union between England and Scotland exists. 

With the Romans came wine. There is plenty of evidence that there was a lively wine industry on the island about 50 years later. 

There is also evidence that the Romans were not the first to bring wine. There are plenty of traces of wine trade between the then Celtic island and Gaul long before the first Roman set foot on Britain. This wine was brought in amphorae that were not produced locally. 

During and after the Roman conquest, vines were locally grown and wine produced. So much so that the Roman emperor Domitian issued an edict reducing the number of vineyards in England. There was a thriving local amphora manufacturing from 70-100 AD around London. Was the emperor concerned about internal competition from the island and drops in imports from Italy?

Because today, Britain is not famous for its wines. Part of that is cultural of course as after Rome, invading Angles, Saxons and Jutes brought their ales. But the most important reason seems to be the change in climate the whole world was subjected to after 400AD. It was colder and the weather was unsuitable for vines. 

You might say that Romans were wine crazy so they did what they could to soothe their cravings. But there was established wine import already at the time of the conquest. If the weather would have been unsuitable for vines cultivation, importation would have been the cheaper and the easier option. The Romans were not known for being deaf and blind to economics. And when Roman governors recorded their tax take to be delivered to the capital, there was always a significant wine take from the local production.

Another sign is that there was a second high time for British vines which coincides with the MWP. That was centuries after the fall of the Western empire and the transformation of local tastes and habits by Germanic invaders. 

Those people were certainly not as crazed for wine as the Romans were. Still, they were no brutes but appreciated the finer things in life. And when temperatures rose sufficiently, wine made a comeback. When they dropped during the Little Ice Age, the wine went away again.

So, when temperatures were suitable for wine, it was cultivated. When they were not, vines were replaced by crops that were more suitable for the colder conditions. 

Today’s vineyards in Britain are a far cry from what they seem to have been during Roman times. And we are in a warm time so should there not be more wine now. Not really. 

The current warm time is the coldest on record. And there is a tendency for them to go colder and colder until the next true ice age hits us again. 

But there is more to good proxies than wines from the British Isles.

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