The Week That Was
April 29, 2006

New on the Web: Matthew Parris, a former Member of Britain's Parliament, incisively ponders the apocalyptic roots of modern environmentalism.
Punish, O Lord, those of us who, through our own fault, are unGreen

Editorial: Gore Strikes Again -Kyoto at the gas pumps

The current gas crunch must obviously be the outcome of careful planning by Al Gore and his Green minions. Timed to coincide with Earth Day, its purpose is to achieve the goal of the Kyoto Protocol: raising energy costs in order to reduce carbon emissions.

Unable to ratify Kyoto because of unanimous bi-partisan opposition in the US Senate in 1997 ("Byrd-Hagel Resolution"), and subsequent defeats of the McCain-Lieberman bills, an alternate 3-phase plan went into effect.

(I) Put potential US oil and gas resources off limits: ANWR, offshore, and huge onshore acreages (the latter achieved during the Clinton/Gore administration)

(ii) Raise environmental and other obstacles to the construction of refineries. The success of this policy can be gauged from the fact that no new grass-roots refineries have been built in the US for some 30 years.

(iii) Finally, mandate restrictions on gasoline composition that require each region of the country to have a special blend of "boutique' gasoline - thus preventing use in case shortages (aka price rises) occur. Also, mandate gasoline additives, like MTBE (later found to be a pollutant) -even if no longer needed. Replace not-needed MTBE with mandated ethanol -- even if there is not enough ethanol to fill the demand. But restrict the import of ethanol by tariffs.

All in all, the Gore-enviro scheme has been a huge success - as judged by the price rise of gasoline, which will surely reduce driving and emissions. To be sure, the increased oil consumption of China and India, and various disturbances around the world, have been a great help in achieving this goal. The best part is that everything can now be blamed on Big Oil --- or on George Bush.

With unaccustomed modesty, Al Gore, inventor of the Internet and the Global Warming crisis, has so far refused to take personal credit for the run-up in gas prices. We can well understand his reluctance.

What's to be done? See comments by Gretchen Randall in a bulletin from Winningreen (Item #1) and Myron Ebell (Item #2) in a CEI press release.

And the inevitable Congressional response to higher gas prices: Raise fuel-efficiency standards for cars. And time for another round of finger-pointing:
"Since George Bush and Dick Cheney took over as president and vice president, gas prices have doubled!" charged Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), standing at an Exxon station on Capitol Hill where regular unleaded hit $3.10. "They are too cozy with the oil industry." She then hopped in a waiting Chrysler LHS (18 mpg) -- even though her Senate office was only a block away.

Inspiring Earth Day editorial in the WSJ: Environment is getting cleaner. (Item #3)
41 scientists respond to the Royal Society's jeremiad on Global Warming (Item #4)
Greens are now preaching adaptation to climate change (Item #5)
Just what is "Sustainable Development"? A primer (Item #6)
How did the Earth slip from warming into cooling 41 million year ago-forming Antarctic ice. The evidence comes from analyses of old fish teeth (Item #7).
And what might be the cause of the "Earth's 1500-year (approx) unstoppable climate cycle"? It's the Sun; see Item #8, but that's probably not the last word
Corals adapt to temperature change, acc to Nature
As if they had not adapted in the past??

Thought you might be interested in this CEI commentary on the scary Time magazine's global warming "report":

Ex-Environmental Leaders Tout Nuclear Energy (NYT, April 24) The nuclear industry has hired Christie Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, the environmental organization, to lead a public relations campaign for new reactors.

True tests for Greens:
Lawn mowers lack catalytic converters, but will consumers pay for them? Manufacturers don't think so

Any senator who cares about this country's energy future should reject an amendment that would prevent the construction of a wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts.

.And having frittered away federal moneys meant for New Orleans levees on pet projects, will the Levee Board do a better job with your tax money? Don't bet on it.

Finally, an old nugget from P.J. O'Rourke:
Everybody wants to save the Earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.


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1. Expect shortages of gasoline and a spike in prices due to ethanol requirement as summer approaches
By Gretchen Randall, Winningreen LLC, March 27, 2006

Issue: In a recent report, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that as the summer driving season approaches and refiners begin making summer blends of gasoline with ethanol instead of MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), a supply crunch may force prices higher amid tight supplies. "The complexity of the transition . . .may give rise to local imbalances between supply and demand and associated price surges during the change.. As the summer progresses and demand grows, the tight supply situation is not likely to ease significantly, leaving the market exposed to increased potential for price volatility."

Due to many states' ban on MTBE for polluting groundwater, refiners are switching to ethanol causing its demand to increase by 130.000 barrels per day. According to Environment and Energy Daily, ethanol production is near capacity already. Gasoline imports from Europe won't be able to meet U.S. requirements for a lower sulfur content thus adding to the tight supply this spring.

Comment 1: Congress should pass legislation to spur production of oil and natural gas, both off shore and in ANWR to prevent even worse shortages in the future.

Comment 2: The requirement for oxygenates should be done away completely since cars manufactured since 1988 regulate the oxygen in fuel automatically. This makes the addition of ethanol completely unnecessary. Therefore, producers shouldn't be receiving a federal subsidy of 54 cents per gallon (the current tariff on imported ethanol).

Link: Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune:

2. Bush Should Get Serious About High Gas Prices
Statement from CEI's Director of Energy Policy

Washington, D.C., April 25, 2006 The Competitive Enterprise Institute is disappointed that President Bush has decided to make cheap political points about high gas prices instead of promoting policies that will lead to more domestic oil production and lower prices. The following is a statement from Myron Ebell, director of energy policy at CEI.

President Bush seems desperate to find someone to blame for continuing high demand for gasoline, which is the result of high economic growth and continuing supply problems. He should take credit for his policies that have contributed to strong economic growth and put the blame for high gas prices where it belongs. He should be traveling across the country blaming the obstructionist minority in Congress that continues to block legislation that would increase domestic energy production. And the president should be building public support for pro-energy, pro-consumer policies.

Many of the Senators and Congressmen who are complaining the loudest about high gas prices and oil company profits have voted again and again over many years for policies designed to constrict energy supplies and thereby raise energy prices. Congress should vote now for legislation that will provide long-term solutions to America's energy supply needs. These solutions include:

· Opening a small portion in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas production. If there is as much oil as the U.S. Geological Survey's mean estimate shows, this would increase America's proven domestic oil reserves by approximately 50 percent. There is majority support in both the House and Senate for opening ANWR, but an obstructionist minority blocked enactment last year. The Senate again voted 51 to 49 earlier this year to open ANWR. The House leadership should now show some leadership and push ANWR to enactment;
· Opening the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf of Mexico offshore areas to oil and natural gas production. America's deep sea reserves are potentially enormous, but except for the western Gulf of Mexico (which is the US's largest producing oil field today) have been put off limits by the federal government. Environmental concerns about deep-sea production are unwarranted. The last significant offshore oil spill in the U. S. was in 1969. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last summer destroyed many oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf, but did not cause any significant oil spills. Congress should enact legislation this year to open offshore areas currently under moratorium and to share federal royalties 50-50 with the States involved;
· Repealing the new ethanol mandate included in the energy bill passed last year. The new mandate requires refiners to double their 2005 use of ethanol to 7.5 billion gallons per year by 2012. Higher demand is causing ethanol prices to soar. The mandate will require 22 percent of the U.S. corn crop to provide 4 percent of gasoline supplies;
· Repealing the current 54-cents-a-gallon tariff on imported ethanol. Domestic ethanol producers already receive 51 cents per gallon in federal subsidies. They don't need any more protection from foreign competition.

It's time for people to demand that their Senators and Congressmen start voting in favor of lower gas prices instead of just talking about them. And President Bush should show true leadership instead of looking for scapegoats, Ebell concluded.

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information about CEI, please visit our website at

3. Breathe Easier
The world is getting cleaner, Al Gore notwithstanding.
Wall Street Journal editorial, April 22, 2006

Today, April 22, is Earth Day, which has been marked each year since 1970 as a day of reflection on the state of the environment. At least that's the idea, so let's begin with some figures.

Since 1970, carbon monoxide emissions in the U.S. are down 55%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Particulate emissions are down nearly 80%, and sulfur dioxide emissions have been reduced by half. Lead emissions have declined more than 98%. All of this has been accomplished despite a doubling of the number of cars on the road and a near-tripling of the number of miles driven, according to Steven Hayward of the Pacific Research Institute.

Mr. Hayward compiles the "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators" published around Earth Day each year by PRI and the American Enterprise Institute. It serves as an instructive antidote for the doom and gloom that normally pervades environmental coverage, especially of late.

This year, for example, Vanity Fair has inaugurated an "Earth Issue," comprising 246 glossy, non-recycled pages of fashion ads, celebrity worship and environmental apocalypse. Highlights include computer-generated images of New York City underwater and the Washington mall as one big reflecting pool. The magazine also includes a breathless essay by U.S. environmental conscience-in-chief Al Gore. The message is that we are headed for an environmental catastrophe of the first order, and only drastic changes to the way we live can possibly prevent it.

If arguments were won through the use of italics, Mr. Gore would prevail in a knockout. But as Mr. Hayward notes in his "Index," the environmental movement as a whole has developed a credibility problem since the first Earth Day 36 years ago. In the 1970s, prominent Greens were issuing dire predictions about mass starvation, overpopulation and--of all things--global cooling. Since then, population-growth estimates have come way down, biotechnology advances have found ways to feed more people than the doomsayers believed possible, and the global-cooling crisis has become the global-warming crisis without missing a beat.

There's no doubt the Greens have succeeded in promoting higher environmental standards, which in turn have contributed to cleaner air, water and land almost everywhere you look. Today, game fish have returned to countless American streams and lakes, the Northeast has more forestland that at any time since the 19th century and smog is down dramatically in places like Los Angeles. But environmental activists don't want to believe their own success, much less advertise it. They need another looming catastrophe to stay relevant, not to mention to keep raising money.

Thus the cause of global warming has come at a fortuitous moment for clean-air warriors looking for alarms to ring. It is global in scope, will take decades to come to fruition--or to be revealed as another false alarm--and provides endless opportunities for government intrusion into the economy. It is, if you'll pardon the deliberate reference to a faith-based phenomenon, the green equivalent of manna from heaven. Or would be, if the Greens hadn't spent so much time over the last three decades talking up scares that never came to pass.

This credibility deficit, combined with the slow-motion nature of the putative warming, has led to some desperate tactics by the global-warming true believers. To cite just one example, careful expounders of the idea of human-caused global warming used to take pains to distinguish between "climate" and "weather." Thus, snow storms in April or cold snaps in September were merely "weather" and told us nothing about long-term trends.

Then Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and the environmental movement pounced. The image of an American city filled with water proved irresistible to those who have been warning for years about rising sea levels--never mind that the cause was one unusually powerful storm and that New Orleans was built below sea level in the first place. As Mr. Gore puts it, Katrina "may have been the first sip of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us over and over again until we act on the truth we have wished would go away." If that language sounds familiar, that's because Mr. Gore borrowed the image from Winston Churchill, who used it to describe the Nazi menace in Europe in the 1930s.

The comparison between global-warming skeptics and Nazis or their sympathizers is not an idle one, as full-scale demonization of anyone who questions the global warming orthodoxy is now under way. MIT's Richard Lindzen recently described in these pages how this intimidation is stifling scientific debate.

A separate article in the same issue of Vanity Fair compares anyone who doubts that the apocalypse is nigh (including us) to the tobacco-industry shills who denied the link between cancer and smoking. It also suggests that both are the products of the same bought-and-paid-for industry flacks. You can expect to hear more such comparisons going forward; having lost the debate over Kyoto, certain Greens would now rather not debate the evidence at all and merely invoke some "consensus" that everyone allegedly knows to be true.

As optimists by nature, we're inclined instead to observe the happy environmental progress of recent decades; that this is in part the result of prosperity produced by economic growth; and that the solutions to any future environmental danger are also likely to emerge from the new technology and greater wealth produced by free markets and free people. So next time someone tells you that climate change is more dangerous than terrorism, bear in mind something else Churchill once said: "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

4. 41 Scientists Debunk Global Warming Alert
The Sunday Telegraph Letters, April 23rd, 2006

The president of the Royal Society, Lord Rees of Ludlow, asserts that the evidence for human-caused global warming "is now compelling" and concerning (Letters, April 19)..

In a public letter, we have recently advised the Canadian Prime Minister of exactly the opposite - which is that "global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural 'noise' ".

We also noted that "observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future".
(Dr) Ian D Clark, Professor, Isotope hydrogeology and paleoclimatology, Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa, Canada

(Dr) Bob Carter, Adjunct Professor of Geology, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

(Dr) R. Timothy Patterson, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences (paleoclimatology), Carleton University, Ottawa

(Dr) Madhav Khandekar, former research scientist, Environment Canada. Member of editorial board of Climate Research and Natural Hazards

(Dr) Tim Ball, former Professor of Climatology, University of Winnipeg; environmental consultant

(Dr) L Graham Smith, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada Mr David Nowell, M.Sc. (Meteorology), Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, Canadian member and past chairman of the NATO Meteorological Group, Ottawa

(Dr) Christopher Essex, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Associate Director of the Program in Theoretical Physics, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario

(Dr) Tad Murty, former Senior Research Scientist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, former Director of Australia's National Tidal Facility and Professor of Earth Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide; currently Adjunct Professor, Departments of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa

(Dr) David E. Wojick, P.Eng., energy consultant, Star Tannery, Va., and Sioux Lookout, Ontario

Mr Rob Scagel, M.Sc., forest microclimate specialist, Principal Consultant, Pacific Phytometric Consultants, Surrey, B.C.

(Dr) Douglas Leahey, meteorologist and air-quality consultant, Calgary, Canada Paavo Siitam, M.Sc., agronomist, chemist, Cobourg, Ontario

(Dr) Chris de Freitas, climate scientist, Associate Professor, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

(Dr) Freeman J. Dyson, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J.

Mr William Kininmonth, Australasian Climate Research, former Head National Climate Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology; former Australian delegate to World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology, Scientific and Technical Review

Mr George Taylor, Department of Meteorology, Oregon State University; Oregon State Climatologist; past President, American Association of State Climatologists

(Dr) Hendrik Tennekes, former Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute

(Dr) Gerrit J. van der Lingen, geologist/paleoclimatologist, Climate Change Consultant, Geoscience Research and Investigations, New Zealand.

(Dr) Nils-Axel Mörner, Emeritus Professor of Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

(Dr) Al Pekarek, Associate Professor of Geology, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota

(Dr) Marcel Leroux, Professor Emeritus of Climatology, University of Lyon, France; former Director of Laboratory of Climatology, Risks and Environment, CNRS

(Dr) Paul Reiter, Professor, Institut Pasteur, Unit of Insects and Infectious Diseases, Paris, France.. Expert reviewer, IPCC Working Group II, chapter 8 (human health)

(Dr) Zbigniew Jaworowski, physicist and Chairman, Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, Warsaw, Poland

(Dr) Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Reader, Department of Geography, University of Hull, U.K.; Editor, Energy & Environment

(Dr) Hans H.J. Labohm, former advisor to the executive board, Clingendael Institute (The Netherlands Institute of International Relations), and economist who has focused on climate change

(Dr) Lee C. Gerhard, Senior Scientist Emeritus, University of Kansas, past Director and State Geologist, Kansas Geological Survey

(Dr) Asmunn Moene, past Head of the Forecasting Centre, Meteorological Institute, Norway

(Dr) August H. Auer, past Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming; previously Chief Meteorologist, Meteorological Service (MetService) of New Zealand

(Dr) Vincent Gray, expert reviewer for the IPCC and author of The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of 'Climate Change 2001,' Wellington, N.Z.

(Dr) Benny Peiser, Faculty of Science, Liverpool John Moores University, U.K.

(Dr) Jack Barrett, retired chemist and spectrocopist, Imperial College London, U.K.
(Dr) William J.R. Alexander, Professor Emeritus, Department of Civil and Biosystems Engineering, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Member, United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters, 1994-2000

(Dr) S. Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia; former Director, U.S. Weather Satellite Service

(Dr) Robert H. Essenhigh, E.G.. Bailey Professor of Energy Conversion, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Ohio State University

Mr Douglas Hoyt, Senior Scientist at Raytheon (retired) and co-author of the book The Role of the Sun in Climate Change; previously with NCAR, NOAA, and the World Radiation Center, Davos, Switzerland

(Dr) Boris Winterhalter, Senior Marine Researcher (retired), Geological Survey of Finland, former Professor in Marine Geology, University of Helsinki, Finland

(Dr) Wibjörn Karlén, Emeritus Professor, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden

(Dr) Hugh W. Ellsaesser, physicist/meteorologist, previously with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California; atmospheric consultant

(Dr) Arthur Robinson, founder, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, Cave Junction, Oregon

(Dr) Alister McFarquhar, Downing College, Cambridge, UK; international economist

(Dr) Richard S. Courtney, climate and atmospheric science consultant, IPCC expert reviewer, UK

5. Adapting to Climate Change: A Green perspective

A growing number of experts are saying what was once unthinkable: humans may have to adapt to a warmer globe. Although there is no debate over Earth's rising temperature, people are reluctant to take action. Nevertheless, stressing the problem's urgency could well be counterproductive, according to "Americans and Climate Change," a new book by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The authors note that urgency does not appear to be something that can be imposed on people. Moreover, they say, "Urgency is especially prone to being discounted as unreasoned alarmism or even passion."

The authors suggest:

o Adaptation may help people focus on the reality of what is coming -- and that may motivate them to cut emissions to limit chances of bigger changes to come.

o Actions could range from developing drought-resistant crops to eliminating federal insurance and other subsidies that have long encouraged coastal development.

Could stressing adaptation work? The Yale group calls global warming "the perfect problem"-- meaning that a confluence of characteristics make it hard, if not impossible, to solve. Its impact remains clouded with scientific uncertainty, its effects will be felt over generations, and it is being amplified by everything from microwaving a frozen dinner to bringing electricity to an Indian village.
Source: Andrew C. Revkin, "Yelling 'Fire' on a Hot Planet," New York Times, April 23, 2006; based upon: Daniel R. Abbasi, "Americans and Climate Change: A Synthesis of Insights and Recommendations from the 2005 Yale F&ES Conference on Climate Change," Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, April 20, 2006.

For Yale study:


6. Sustainable Development: A Primer

"Sustainable Development has become a 'buzz' term that refers to a political agenda, rather than an objectively sustainable form of development. Specifically, it refers to an initiative of the United Nations called the U.N. Sustainable Development Agenda 21, the most comprehensive statement of a political ideology that is being progressively infused into every level of government in America.
"Agenda 21 was unveiled in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, commonly known as the Rio Earth Summit, where more than 178 nations adopted Agenda 21, and pledged to evaluate progress made in implementing the plan every five years thereafter. President George H. W. Bush was the signatory for the United States.

"Although Congress never authorized the implementation of Agenda 21, in 1993, President Bill Clinton established, by Executive Order, the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) for the purpose of implementing Agenda 21 in the United States. The PCSD operated through 1999, but its actions to promote Sustainable Development have taken root, and now exert an increasing influence in communities across America.

The authors of Agenda 21 have said it will affect every area of life, grouped according to three objectives: Equity, Economy, and Environment. By defining these terms vaguely, a litany of abuse has resulted.

"[I]n order to achieve their objectives, [the authors of Agenda 21] call for a shift in attitudes, which can be seen in the educational programs developed by its proponents. This is the premise of Sustainable Development: That individual human wants, needs, and desires are to be conformed to the views and dictates of planners. Harvey Ruvin, Vice Chair of the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives, and Clerk of the Circuit and County Court in Miami-Dade County, Florida, has said that 'individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective' in the process of implementing Sustainable Development.

"Sustainable Development is ostensibly concerned with the environment; it is more concerned with restructuring the governmental system of the world's nations so that all the people of the world will be the subjects of a global collective. Many of its proposed implementation strategies require the surrender of unalienable rights.

"Sustainable Development is restructuring our lives, and is targeting our children through an educational regime that seeks to develop collectivist attitudes, values, and beliefs. Sustainable development documents expressly call for the elimination of private property and the freedom that private property supports. It supplants long-standing State laws, and causes irreparable harm to our economy and our society. If individual members of our society do nothing, the continuing loss of liberty will result in increasing social confusion and discord, rising resource shortages, financial decay, and a dimming future for us and our posterity."

-- Excerpts from "Understanding Sustainable Development -- Agenda 21 -- A guide for Public Officials," a booklet prepared by Freedom 21 Santa Cruz, PO Box 3330, Freedom, California 95019, 2005, pages 4-6, 8, 10, 21. Phone: 831-684-2232.
Hat tip to Fred Gielow


7. Fossil gives clue to big chill
By Helen Briggs BBC News science reporter

The gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific at the bottom of the globe opened up 41 million years ago, according to a study of old fish teeth. The research in Science pushes back the date of the forging of Drake Passage to twice as long ago as once thought.
US geologists believe it kick-started the ocean current that swirls around Antarctica, helping to bring about a dramatic cooling effect. The continent was transformed from lush forest to the icy landscape of today.
"We're saying we now have a date for the opening of the Drake Passage that looks like it's early enough that it may have contributed to the cooling," said Ellen Eckels Martin of the University of Florida. "It illustrates that ocean circulation may play a very important role in climate change."
Millions of years later, the current still plays a major role in keeping the Antarctic cool.
"We are warming the world through greenhouse gases and this is leading to the decay of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the cool current around Antarctica is probably helping slow that process," said Dr Martin.

Greenhouse world
Drake's Passage is named after Sir Francis Drake, the English sea captain who circumnavigated the globe in the 16th Century. The treacherous stretch of water between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica formed when the "arm" that once connected South America and Antarctica fell away.
The world was a very different place then. Levels of carbon dioxide were three to four times today's levels and it was so warm that alligators sunned themselves in the high Arctic. But some 30 million years ago, there was a dramatic shift in climate from "greenhouse" to "icehouse". The rapid cooling swept over the Antarctic and, over the course of several million years, its pine trees were replaced by glaciers.

Chemical signature
Scientists have long speculated about how this happened and suspect the opening of the Drake Passage played a key role. But until now, the date has been fuzzy, with estimates ranging from 15 million to 49 million years ago.
The University of Florida team came up with a reliable date by studying fish teeth recovered from rocks lying more than 1,000 feet (300 metres) beneath the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. A chemical called neodymium accumulates in fish teeth, as they settle on the ocean floor. The chemical signatures for the Atlantic and the Pacific are different, allowing the scientists to determine when water from the Pacific Ocean began seeping into the Atlantic Ocean.

Icehouse shift
The research shows that the rift in the plates of the Earth that caused the gap to open up happened about 41 million years ago, which fits in with the build-up of ice sheets on Antarctica a few million years later. Scientists believe the formation of the ocean current that circulates around Antarctica played a key role in the cooling as it deflects warm streams of water coming from the equator.
Decreasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may have also contributed to the cooling effect, but their relative roles are still a matter of debate.

8. What's causing the 1500-year climate cycle?
Braun et al. (2005) have demonstrated that the superposition of the DeVries-Suess and Gleissberg solar cycles could have resulted in climatic variability that repeats with a 1,470-year period, which phenomenon could well be what produced the Roman Warm Period, Dark Ages Cold Period, Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age and, most recently, the Modern Warm Period.

Braun, H., Christl, M., Rahmstorf, S., Ganopolski, A., Mangini, A., Kubatzki, C., Roth, K. and Kromer, B. 2005. Possible solar origin of the 1,470-year glacial climate cycle demonstrated in a coupled model. Nature 438: 208-211.



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