The Man-Made Global Warming Debate and Historical Contradictions

I am a local historian who has stumbled upon quite a different body of evidence concerning Climate Change and I have, therefore, come into the Global Warming Debate from a completely different direction.

In 2006 I published a historical investigation which explained the evolution of Derby and the underlying factor that tied all of the town's various 'mysteries' together was a changing water level. (The Rivers of Time, An investigation into the role played by the Derwent and Trent rivers in shaping the history of Derby, Nottingham and other towns on the flood plains. ISBN 0 95306037-3)

However, because I accepted the perceived wisdom that temperatures were higher today than at any time since the last major Ice Age I blamed the changing water levels on Glacial Rebound which is the action of the earth's crust slowly returning to its former position after the loss of the massive weight of the ice sheets.

As the man-made global warming argument intensified in the media I realised that I should have dismissed the supporters of man-made global warming and given greater consideration to the Medieval Warm Period. I could then have come up with a more convincing explanation of the effect of river levels on Derby's formation. Higher river levels had to be driven by higher sea levels so I set about finding historical evidence for the effects of the Medieval Warm Period and I found that sea levels were considerably higher and that it is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.

I published an update to my first book under the title The Man-Made Global Warming Debate and Historical Contradictions - ISBN 0 9530603-8-2.

What is of importance is that anyone can verify my evidence by reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the evidence can also be tested by either science or archaeology which is more than can be said for the evidence presented by the scientific community.

First, a brief review of the historical facts that alerted me to the possibility of changing river levels over time.
These seemingly unimportant facts take on a greater significance when looked at in the light of Derby's history particularly the major floods recorded from AD 1587 through to AD 1932. This information when coupled with the AD 1610 map by John Speed and each subsequent map shows that the ancient part of the town had developed above the flood line whilst later growth followed the suggested retreating water levels. This is a process which continues today with outlying development on land to the south of Derby that was wetland within living memory although improved land drainage has helped in recent times.

Once I had verified the local information showing river levels at particular dates using the Cartulary of Darley Abbey, which covers the period from around the middle of the twelfth century to the dissolution, and the information described above I set about searching the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and found seventeen definite references indicating high water levels between AD 656 to AD 1125. These are roughly the dates for the Medieval Warm Period.

A couple of striking entries concern the Ely rebellion involving Hereward the Wake. I have shortened the text to highlight the important facts about water levels.
According to the A.D. 1070 entry above the 'Outlaws' raided Peterborough to steal the treasure then sailed to Ely to deposit it there. In other words there was navigable water between the two minsters.
This entry confirms the amount of water present between Peterborough and Ely because King William sent in his naval force from the seaward side of the minster. This was not a couple of inches of water in a marsh - this was open navigable water.

Having established the high waters of the Medieval Warm Period I then took a closer look at the Little Ice Age and discovered that it was probably of greater intensity than most commentators give it credit for. I wondered whether the Climate Scientists had underestimated the warmth of the Medieval Warm Period and the cold of the Little Ice Age causing them to misjudge the present circumstances.

It then occurred to me that man's influence may not have been in making the climate warmer. It is more probable that man has cooled the climate and now that efforts are being made to reduce atmospheric pollution the climate is returning to its normal higher range.

My evidence seems to suggest an Iron Age warm period followed by moderate cooling as the Roman Empire expanded. The first fort at Derby was around the present 55 metre contour whilst the last fort was just below the present 50 metre contour.

The Romans industrialised lead making, iron making and other high temperature engineering such as tile and brick manufacture. The demands of the Empire for food production would have led to the clearing by burning of vast tracts of land. The Romans could, therefore, have been responsible for sufficient northern hemisphere pollution to activate global dimming and it's accompanying drop in temperatures.

By the sixth century the Roman Empire in northern Europe was faltering allowing for the Anglo-Saxon invasions and settlement of many of the Northern territories including England. Mass production associated with the Roman way of life declined and in its place came a more rural and greener culture. The Saxons were masters of wood technology and their habitations reflected this. Certainly, if some cooling had taken place, the Saxons preference for inherently warmer timber buildings over cold stone would make sense.

It can be argued that the reduction in Roman industrial pollution could have lead to a cleaner atmosphere resulting in higher levels of sunlight. The natural warming which started after the last Ice Age could recommence and with it would come the rising water levels documented in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. This warming would continue until the middle of the eleventh century when the climate started to nose-dive. This was a time of earthquakes in England and France, (which I list at the end of my book), so was it also a time of volcanic activity in the Northern Hemisphere? By coincidence it was also a time when organised industrialisation was returning courtesy of the monks and their centralised abbey way of life. The modern industrial age was in its infancy and would continue over the next nine centuries driven by the demands of population growth. In the early seventeen hundreds Thomas Newcomen introduced the atmospheric engine and this was followed firstly by low pressure steam engines and then the high pressure steam engine which saw the birth and massive increase in railways. The sky was darkening by the day and we were in the grip of the Little Ice Age. After the fog and smog of the nineteen-fifties came the clean air acts in the UK and elsewhere. As the sky cleared the temperatures started to rise again.

If temperature rise is normal it needs to be planned for accordingly. If there is a short term cycle then there will be a  subsequent temperature fall beginning in two or three hundred years time. If the cycle is long term then a different plan will need to be put in place to accommodate progressively rising sea levels.

See for a review of both books

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles Online version can be viewed at The Online Medieval & Classical Library -

BACK to Derby Heritage Forum