A little perspective

The Netherlands is having a heat wave. Barbecues and outdoor smoking have been banned in large parts of the countryside because of the strong risk of fire following the dry weather. Yours truly has been suffering from yet another 35+ centrigrade day, with more to come tomorrow and the week after that.

Thoughts of global warming are hence resurfacing. But fear not. J. Storrs Hall provides us with the necessary perspective. If you look at a temperature recontruction of the last 500 or so years, taken from a Greenland ice-core sample, you would get a picture as shown below.

Seems a bit worrying, no? But the great thing about ice core samples is that they allow temperature reconstructions that go back way further then just 500 odd years.

Here’s the picture when we look at the last 1200 years:

Clearly visible is the Medieval Warm Period (MVP), when Greenland was in fact green and vineyards were found all along the British coasts. The warming we’ve seen in the last decade of the 20th century is not even half of the warming during the MVP, if this ice core sample is anything to go by.

And if we take the grand perspective, say the last 450 thousand years, what do we see:

In the words of Storrs Hall: we’re pretty lucky to be here during this rare, warm period in climate history. Enjoy it while it lasts!

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