A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Dinosaurs wiped out by … Darkness and Cold

Now this is climate change. If you can believe this study, wow:

“In the tropics, annual mean temperature fell from 27 to 5 degrees Celsius”

And we worry about a warming of one degree in a century.

“It became cold, I mean, really cold,” says Brugger. Global annual mean surface air temperature dropped by at least 26 degrees Celsius. The dinosaurs were used to living in a lush climate. After the asteroid’s impact, the annual average temperature was below freezing point for about 3 years. Evidently, the ice caps expanded. Even in the tropics, annual mean temperatures went from 27 degrees to mere 5 degrees. “The long-term cooling caused by the sulfate aerosols was much more important for the mass extinction than the dust that stays in the atmosphere for only a relatively short time. It was also more important than local events like the extreme heat close to the impact, wildfires or tsunamis,” says co-author Georg Feulner who leads the research team at PIK. It took the climate about 30 years to recover, the scientists found.

The real threats are not fertilizer and balmy weather, but rocks from space, and cold, cold, cold…

How the [...]

The big-freeze: thousands trapped in europe as death toll rises to 600

And who wants Global Warming when you can face avalanches, deep snow, and record cold?

How much fun can you have with 2 meters of snow on your house, and none of that evil coal powered electricity?

What’s happening in Europe and Russia over the last two weeks is not just your average cold-snap. Temperatures reached -28C in Moscow. One point in Russia hit -52.8C (-68F) on Monday.

 MOSCOW — Some 215 Russians have died this year in a prolonged period of abnormally cold winter weather, the health ministry said Monday as the overall death toll for Europe rose to well over 600. [National Post]


NASA Earth Observatory. Dark blue areas are -15C below average. White areas are average. Deep Red are 15C above. (See the NASA link below for the proper scale):.

The Danube has frozen over from Austria to the Black Sea, and 224 ships (some delivering fuel) have been stuck in their ports. Schools in Bosnia have been closed for days. Trains in Montenegroare at a standstill, and one train with 50 passengers was stranded in a tunnel for three days before rescuers began evacuating people yesterday.

In Serbia 11,000 villagers are trapped by huge [...]

Cold times means more death, war, rebellion, drought and flood in China

Tomb of Hong Quan Fu. Photo Iflwlou拍攝

It seems a warmer climate might be bad, but a colder one is deadly.

Once upon a time, people thought that overpopulation triggered crashes, but in this study by Lee and Zhang the hard numbers suggest instead that it was climate, and of course, it’s not the warmer kind of climate that causes the problems but the colder kind.

Malthusian cycles of population boom and bust aren’t the drivers here (though presumably having a large population means there is little buffer when the deadly cold spells hit).

From NIPCC:  Cold Periods caused population crashes in China over the last millenium

…there were 5 major population contractions in China between 1000 CE and 1911, and all of them occurred in periods with a cold climate, when mortality crises triggered population collapses. [Abstract]

How much fun can you have in a long frost? Almost every kind of uprising, pain or plague.

In one population crash, the losses were as high as 49% of the peak. In the face of a 50:50 death rate, “perspective” doesn’t seem like quite the right word.