Torrential rains, floods, droughts, fire from the sky and the wrath of God

17 February 2014
Climate change

A post at… … is derived from Online Speigel and their review of a book, 'The Book of Miracles' (available via Amazon and other book shops) which is a collection of 16th century depictions of celestial phenomena and signs in the sky, or portents of doom. They were recently discovered but were made at Augsburg in Germany around 1552. These are 'End of the World' visions – or interpretations of phenomena in the 16th century, that actually happened but were being projected as an indication the Second Coming was immanent. It was used in an apocalyptic fashion if you like – and there is the proper comparison with modern CAGW. The funny thing about this is that 1552 was in the middle of a climate respite, a warmish interlude within the Little Ice Age, the lull before the storm that cascaded in during the 17th century. However, the phenomena had occurred – and not too distant from 1552. The blog author is only concerned that the images are full of alarmism and transfers this to the modern world. The difference is that in the 16th century alarming things were happening – but nothing of much note is occurring at present (apart from dumps of rain). 

The Little Ice Age was a period of bad weather, freak storms and floods, crop failure and people going hungry (mainly the peasants, the same group being asked to stump up for excessive fuel bills nowadays) cold winters, mild winters, hot summers and cloudy dull summers, and a general succession of misery for the people at the bottom of the heap. It is precisely this era of suffering, in the 16th and 17th centuries, that underlie later religious and social reforms. In the modern world, this is being turned on its head. The beneficial effects of a warming world are being demonised.

The imagery involves blood, stones, and hail falling from the sky, the kind of starters dish with the rest of the menu bound to follow if the people did not repent of their sinful ways. The blog author describes them as hallucinatory. He is wrong as these things did happen – and backsliders did go back to church as the images were real. Not all of them of course. There was no ten headed monster with horns and a crown as this is clearly the Beast of the Bible. There were dragons in the sky (comets and meteors), rains of blood (rain mixed with red cometary dust), and fire in the sky (fireballs) and these could actually be seen by all the people, saints and sinners alike. People were thus able to make a direct connection with bad weather in general – excessive rain and spoilt crops in waterlogged fields, or drought and withered stalks of grain, livestock drowned in floods, or animals going hungry as a result of a lack of new shoots from dried clumps of grass. These all converged on the Little Ice Age. It gained that label not because it was universally cold but because the average temperature was cooler (by only a degree and a half C). Therefore, some years it was very cold but this was counterbalanced in that other years were quite warm. In fact, some decades were quite agreeable as far as the weather is concerned. In other years a wet winter was followed by drought in the summer and an extremely cold following winter and spring – and that is where subsistence farming cannot cope. One can see why the Agrarian Revolution took place at this time – it was a necessity (otherwise all the other advances in well being would never have taken place). It is often seen as a capitalist plot, big landowners disposing of the peasants. The agrarian advances were mostly made by yeoman farmers – and only later adoted by the big landowners. The latter were not desperate – they had no need to revolutionise farming practises. Yeoman farmers had all the incentives – and they took advantage of the situation (because they did not wish to starve). In Scotland, the big landowners had their way, and replaced crofters with sheep, doing away with the uneconomical peasants and their crofts (during the Little Ice Age and its aftermath). What is wrong with a warming world we might ask – lots of food, lots of people making things and being inventive – what is the CAGW doomsaying all about?

Spiegle claims the book's 167 pages illustrates the angst of the times – and a lot of what was clearly a succession of weather extremes. They, and the blog author, ignore the dragons in the sky, the comets and the meteors, the atmospheric phenomena such as the appearance of three Suns in the sky, the falls of blood (red ferrogenous dust from comet tails), and they focus instead on hail storms, lightning strikes, and flooding. They ignore the desperation of starving people, of outbreaks of disease in humans and their livestock, falls of stones, and heavy meteoric activity. What a pity. Reality is half hidden from view by ignoring the strange activity in the sky that caused all the consternation.

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