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16 January 2016

MJ Harper has proposed a new theory on the formation of deserts – which is novel if nothing else. You can buy a video from Amazon – 'The Distribution of Deserts, a New Teory' by MJ Harper. There are lots of videos on deserts on www.youtube.com but these are mostly mainstream – Harper is a novel theory. Deserts, surprisingly occur at all kinds of latitudes so there might be something in what he says. Evaporation of the oceans and mountain formations (with a rain shadow on one side) are favourtite explanations but Harper has something else – plant respiration. He thinks there is an equilibrium between evaporation from the ocean and the amount of water in the atmosphere and the oceans cannot add to that. What drives the atmospheric water vapour process he thinks are forests, woodland, and all kinds of vegetation. Where there is no vegetation to the west then there will be desert to the east. Precipitation occurs from west to east as that is the way the planet rotates.

You can buy a video of his theory at Amazon – £7.95.

Harper is also the author of a funny and tongue in cheek book with the title, 'The History of Britain Revealed' (published in the US as 'The Secret History of the English Language') which basically suggests the English language did not suddenly appear with the arrival of the Angles and Saxons (who actually spoke a language akin to other Scandinavian tongues) but was closely related to our nearest neighbours, the Frisians (and Britain was still attached to the Netherlands until a few thousand years ago). Harper has his own web site which is an interesting place to explore – www.applied-epistemology.com/phpbb2/

He is also the co-author with HL Vered of 'The Megalithic Empire' – and she too has a web site, www.themegalithicempire.com

Having said that some reviews of his book on Amazon say he is a crank. Some people just do not like new theories that upset what they learned in school and university. They are stuck in a time warp with brains at the buffers. I thought the book was humourous and irreverent and was presenting a theory tongue in cheek rather than as a serious scholarly study so why anyone would get upset is a mystery. I think it has possibilities as place names and the names of natural features are obviously English with little survival of the former Celtic tongue. His view is that the Celtic language was dominant in the west of Britain and Ireland. That has merit as western Britain was settled by people from Iberia and the Mediterranean region whereas the eastern side of the country was peopled from the continent. It could be that a Celtic elite established itself in the eastern lowland area – and we know that in the Iron Age, Celtic speaking people (Belgic) probably invaded southern Britain and established kingdoms (the native farming communities presumably continuing much as they had in the Bronze Age). Therefore the Harper theory on the English language is not the work of a crank but somebody who can think outside the box. The same may be true of his theory on deserts – which I shall explore further.

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