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Study: Swiss glaciers mostly melted before industrialization began

By Dr. Lubos Motl

Hundreds of papers are being published that show that the “anthropogenic climate change” paradigm is incorrect, at least in its strong forms. But I think that the following paper is rather cute because it’s so careful and it discusses one of the most obvious symptoms of “global warming” – the melting glaciers.

Six days ago, Michael Sigl and 5 co-authors finally published the paper

19th century glacier retreat in the Alps preceded the emergence of industrial black carbon deposition on high-alpine glaciers (PDF)

in The Cryosphere, a peer-reviewed journal about the frozen things on Earth. The paper was originally submitted as a “discussion paper” in February. It went through a peer review with 3 referees who looked at the paper rather carefully, wrote detailed reviews, and caught some missing commas, among other things. You may see the history of the paper if you click at the title above.

As summarized at Swiss Info (hat tip: GWPF of Benny Peiser), Sigl et al. looked at the ice core from the Fiescherhorn glacier between Bern and Valais and analyzed the age of soot particles (technically refractory black carbon, rBC). They could analyze how much of the glacier was melted at various points.

Now, the prediction by the “anthropogenic climate change” would be that the melting Alpine glaciers are due to the industrial activity. But that activity was exploding sometime in the 19th century and it only began to grow detectably above the natural background around 1875.

However, these authors found that in 1875, 75% of the 19th century, 80% of the 19th century glacier melt had already been completed.

It means that the average rate of melting was actually higher between 1800-1875, in the pre-major-industrialization era, than between 1875-1900. The authors have analyzed the quantities since 1741 – and some melting could have been there from the beginning.

Now, 1875 is pretty clearly a reasonable beginning of the major industrialization. The Škoda Works was founded in my hometown of Pilsen in 1859 (see the picture at the top) – and it grew into the largest factory in the Austrian Empire that would become Austria-Hungary in a decade.

Well, some company was founded by the noble Waldstein family (whose earlier member was an early patron of Beethoven’s) in 1859 but Mr Emil Škoda only bought it in 1869 and only under Škoda, the expansion really began. See the history. And the Pilsner factory was still a pioneer – a clear majority of such 19th century factories only began to be built after 1869; the count’s factory only had 100+ workers. In 1899, the factory turned into “The Stockholders’ Company, Formerly Škoda Works, With Headquarters In Pilsen”, the company survived a very sad, for 202 folks fatal, and big explosion of the Bolevec-Pilsen-based ammunition plant in 1917 (which inspired Karel Čapek – the author of the word “robot”, along with his brother – to write Krakatit in 1922), and by the late 1920s, it had 35,000 employees (the number probably includes the carmakers at Laurin & Klement in Mladá Boleslav, now VW’s Škoda, which Škoda bought in 1925).

You may remember that three years ago, I bragged that in 1893-1894, Bohemia produced over 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions – a higher fraction than the U.S. had up to 1825. The relative importance of the Bohemian industry in the world has decreased almost by one order of magnitude since the late 19th century. (Clearly, most of the new competition grew outside Europe.) So Škoda and Bohemia were relative pioneers, others followed later, and it makes sense to assume that the industrialization’s effect on the climate was close to negligible before 1875.

Clearly, the results indicate that the melting of the Alpine glaciers has a natural origin – something related to the end of the Little Ice Age. The authors don’t forget to add the disclaimer that this finding doesn’t exclude the possibility that the anthropogenic influence has grown prominent sometimes well after 1875 – they cannot say when and no obvious hint of a qualitative change in the recent era may be found in their graphs.

But some of the most obvious signs used as “hints of the man-made climate change” simply have to have a natural origin. By analogy, when it’s true for the Alpine glaciers, it may be true for many or most other “signs”.

It’s great that some people are still taking ice cores and carefully writing articles – or catching errors in other people’s articles. Needless to say, this result and lots of similar results contradict something that has become a left-wing atheists’ religion of a sort. They decided that any recent manifestation of climate change is (or “should be”) the effect of the industrial activities of the mankind. They want to believe such an extraordinary claim although they’re not aware of any tangible evidence. Well, when you actually look at the data, this favorite proposition of theirs just isn’t true. There was never any rational reason to believe that it “should be” true.