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Henry Hoyle Howorth

25 April 2014

Here is a man to reckon with, one Henry Hoyle Howorth – go to http://malagabay.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/1892-an-appeal-to-common-sense/ … and this one is a cracker (worth a read to get the measure of the man). I've never heard of Henry Hoyle Howarth, and nor I expect, have most people, but he was a catastrophist very much in the mould of modern variations of that state of mind. He wrote, 'The Glacial Nightmare and the Flood; a second appeal to common sense from the extravagance of some recent geology' and various other books – with titles like 'The Mammoths and the Flood' and 'The History of the Mongols'. It is a nice poke at uniformitarianism.

Howorth was a classic denier – or sceptic. He was not taken in by the theory of uniformitarianism or by the geological interpretations of his day. Most pertinently, he did not swallow the new glacial  theory which was supposed to explain erratics and drift deposits (such as thin beds of gravel, silt, or clay). He favoured water transport. He called it a glacial nightmare and 'no theory of modern times (19th century) has had a more disastrously mischievous effect upon the progress of natural science.'

Howorth's base point is that Nature displays evidence of intermittent violence punctuating more lengthy periods of repose. He goes on to say that catastrophic events have occurred frequently in the history of the world. His book seeks to answer the question of the Drift deposits. You can purchase geology maps that show drift and others that don't show but concentrate on the major rock strata it covers. Hence, he is talking about not only erratic boulders and stones but brickearth (sought out by 19th century brick makers), valley gravels, loams, loess, chernozen and muds, which he attributes to a Pleistocene 'flood' – or, more importantly, a succession of floods. He was against the idea of ice as the medium for distributing Drift. One can see why certain parties objected to and opposed his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society (which he overcame). Nowadays, he wouldn't get on a short list yet alone become a Fellow. His flood, it should be noted, was not the Biblical Flood, which he regarded as a tradition. I'm not sure at the moment if he envisaged water from the sea washing across land surfaces, for whatever reason. To bolster his stance he points out that the so called ice sheets in Europe and N America had alongside them, wooded areas in which mammoth flourished, and rhinoceros. Presumably the idea that mammoths fed on the skant vegetation of the tundra had not yet been aired. He says these wooded areas were almost within touching distance of the hypothetical ice sheets, and a lot of creatures appear to have been grazing quite happily in such a cold climate. See also https://archive.org/details/glacialnightmare02howorich … and https://archive.org/download/glacialnightmare01howorich/glacialnightmare…

At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarternary_glaciation … we have the Ice Age theory laid bare – most of which is based on the oxygen isotopes in foraminifera shells (plankton). It claims it is based on ice cores which is completely untrue as ice cores are unreadable further back than around 70,000 years ago (and even that is suspect). Ice core estimates are based on models – and we have all seen how reliable climate change models are so why should ice core models be any different. We are also told the total volume of land ice, sea levels, and global temperatures have fluctuated at 41,000 and 100,000 year intervals (which again is a hypothesis, not a fact). They then point at the last 800,000 years which involves magnetic stripes on the sea floor – which have been criticised (see various earlier posts). The Wikipedia entry even goes on to admit that no completely satisfactory theory has been proposed to account for Earth's history of glaciation. For example, the popularity of co2 induced warming led to the projection of a theory that claimed downturns in the amount of co2 in the atmosphere started the long term cooling trend. As co2 is currently rising rapidly but temperatures are not one cannot see this theory lasting much longer – but it will because they have nothing to replace it with.

At http://malagabay.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/holes-in-the-ice-age-story/ … Tim Cullen takes a swipe at Ice Ages, homing in on Greenland. If the ice sheets grew and then the ice sheet that currently covers Greenland should have grown exponentially – or is that unreasonable? Cullen claims the ice sheet on Greenland did not grow in the north of the island – the bit closest to the North Pole (quoting various articles to that effect). On the face of it this would appear to contradict Peter Warlow too – but facts have to speak for themselves. The Ice Ages are clearly not as simple as uniformitarians would allow. For example, geologists are discovering new field evidence which contradicts some of what mainstream has thought as gospel. During the Pleistocene, and more importantly, during the Late Glacial Maximum, tracts of northern Greenland were ice free (just 700km south of the North Pole. Not only that, it is a mountainous region and altitude is usually associated with even colder weather. The region, to explain it all away, is defined as a polar desert (precipitation is very low). However, in the LGM there was a major expansion of ice in southern Greenland. Tim Cullen points out the ice free areas, and the greater ice areas of Greenland, are very similar to the situation that prevailed during the Little Ice Age – and he says the LGM could more properly be descibed as a Sea Ice Era (an expansion of sea ice, which is what happened in the Little Ice Age of the 16th and 17th centuries AD). This is an interesting observation – even the Heinrich events could be described as a succession of Little Ice Ages (with lots of ice bergs and ice rafting behaviour, dropping rocks and debris in the middle of the Atlantic as they moved southwards). One has to take a deep breath with this idea – is it plausible? If Ice Age drift was the result of water action and there is no reason why not – and why not? He says that in 1780 New York harbour froze over allowing people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island (nowadays you take the ferry). This is an extraordinary hypothesis – but it has occurred to me when looking at ice rafting during Heinrich events that they didn't really go much further than southern Iceland – and in the Little Ice Age sea ice was common all round Iceland, and polar bears turned up by walking across the floes (and a little bit of swimming). In fact, ice rafting during the very cold periods of the Ice Age, the Heinrich events, I would have thought would have been much worse than it was a couple of hundred years ago. Something to ruminate.

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