Inuit Oil Barons to be ... cold weather in the 18th century

7 Apr 2011

At ... it seems oil geologists are looking seriously at Greenland for untapped reserves of the black sticky substance. As can be expected the environmentalists are not very happy about this - they want oil to run out. Oil extraction is dubbed exploitation of the environment - which says it all. Unfortunately,as far as Greenland is concerned the lobby has soiled the patch. The Inuit do not have fond memories of Greenpeace and their soulmates as they campaigned to stop seal hunting - and Inuit are the major population group of Greenland.

Meanwhile, the cold weather of the winter of 1883-4 has traditionally been blamed on an Icelandic volcano. Laki (see (dodgy link) based on a paper in Geophysical Research Letters published by the AGU. It says that in 1783, Laki began to erupt, and continued to simmer for months, and spewed out sulphuric acid aerosols which spread over the northern hemisphere - causing many people to die. In the summer there were heat waves, even a famine as a result of spoilt crops, and livestock are said to have died as a result of pestilence. During the following winter temperatures across Europe were 2 degrees below average for the 1700s. However, in the paper the episode has been re-examined in the light of modern knowledge and AGW modelling techniques and it seems Laki was just in part to blame, the cold winter coincided with changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation and an El Nino in warming phase - remarkably similar to the events of 2009-10 which was also cold with a fair amount of snow.