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Younger Dryas Out of Bed

8 January 2022

Gary sent in the link to https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00368504211064272 … 'Premature Rejection in Science: the case for the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis' by James Lawrence Powell. The progress of science has sometimes been unjustifiably delayed by the precaution rejection of a hypothesis for which some evidence existed, and which was later verified and achieved consensus recognition. Continental Drift for example, meteorite impact cratering, and global warming are the three examples he gives. However, I would object to the last as no evidence exists for the idea that co2 causes global warming. Climate scientists regularly avoid the question, and assume it is beyond doubt simply by repetition from their peers and the media. As it might have been a fop to include that in order to get published we can excuse the author – but it doesn't bode well for what follows. It is well known that scientists do not like the idea of catastrophism and this is quite obvious when you go to web sites, even the likes of WattsUpWithThat. This is strange as the original debate over catastrophism versus uniformitarianism was one about religion – who of course took the Biblical Flood seriously. Why a Victorian dog fight should be so virulently sustained in the 21st century, in a largely secular society, is more about prejudice than a scientific mindset.

Powell goes on to say scientists initially rejected many theories that at some point later in time become widespread and accepted. He is thinking in terms of the Younger Dryas Impact theory as another one that will eventually be taken for granted. Perhaps it will – but the anti-catastrophism meme is currently too great for that to happen any time soon. Powell goes through the various articles published for and against the idea of an impact, or air burst. These include the notorious early dismissals of the idea by the likes of Pinter and Surovell, which appear to have persuaded a good many other scientists that it was fringe, or worse. He unravels what they claimed, quoting later articles that seem to vindicate the impact hypothesis. It is quite a good read, if only to get an idea of what went on after the initial publication, and how easy it was for the mainstream to present a sceptical response and how so many scientists were eager to believe them rather than take the trouble of checking out the ideas themselves. It is so reminiscent of the way global warming has overridden any dissent. It is not a very good advert for science and they wonder why so much of the public have a jaundiced view of the mainstream.

Powell is actually the author of a book, 'Four Revolutions in the earth sciences: from heresy to truth' New York:2015 [Columbia University Press]. He therefore comes from a geological background. This is why he says most geologists would not have been subscribers to the initial publication of the hypothesis but would probably have read the negative responses which were published in geological journals. He therefore excuses his fellow geologists. Powell also cites Martin Sweatman – but he doesn't appear in his bibliography. Sweatman has published in Molecular Physics but I am supposing it is a reference to his book, 'Prehistory Decoded' Matador:2019 that he found too embarrassing to mention as that too has been defined as pseudo scientific.

Powell does come out with something that has never occurred to me, and probably a lot of other people as well. He makes the point that Heinrich events begin during warm temperatures and end in very cold temperatures. In contrast, the Younger Dryas begins with a very cold plummet in temperature and it gradually gets warmer. However, not sure this is strictly true as the end of the Younger Dryas period is marked by a sharp uptick in temperatures. Fred Hoyle went round this by saying the first impact caused a lot of dust in the stratosphere and the end of the period involved another impact, in the ocean, that washed the dust out of the stratosphere. In reality, nobody knows why it ended the way it did. There is a lot of speculation. Hoyle did a lot of speculation. That is why he was so good, like throwing a bit of meat at a dog. However, Powell makes the point there is now an accumulation of data in support of the impact hypothesis. The idea the YD differed from run of the mill Heinrich events may be a red herring, designed to neuter criticism of the YD as a special event. After all, the YD was preceded by a warm period, in which large herbivores thrived, and humans. It is not a lot different from the Dansgaard-Oeschger events that preceded the Heinrich events. The oddity, might instead be the fact that so many Dansgaard-Oeschger events litter the last Ice Age. That is a very big puzzle.

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