Ancient Greeks, Romans Drove SUV's, New Evidence Suggests
The Los Angeles Times reports that scientists have discovered much higher levels of methane gas than they expected in core samples of ice dating from the time of the ancient Romans. Yet this evidence hasn't led them to the conclusions about global warming that you might think it would:
Centuries before the Industrial Revolution or the recognition of global warming, the ancient Roman and Chinese empires were already producing powerful greenhouse gases through their daily toil, according to a new study.
The burning of plant matter to cook food, clear cropland and process metals released millions of tons of methane gas into the atmosphere each year during several periods of pre-industrial history, according to the study, published Thursday in the journal Nature.
Although the quantity of methane produced back then pales in comparison with the emissions released today —the total amount is roughly 70 times greater now — the findings suggest that man's footprint on the climate is larger than previously realized. Until now, it was assumed by scientists that human activity began increasing greenhouse gas levels only after the year 1750.
"The quantities are much smaller, because there were fewer people on Earth," said study leader Celia Sapart, an atmospheric chemist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. "But the amount of methane emitted per person was significant."
Wait a minute. Environmentalists have been telling us for years that industrial progress is the cause of global warming. Wouldn't the fact that so much methane was in the atmosphere two millennia ago suggest that there may have been natural causes for much of it? Volcanic eruptions, forest fires caused by lightening, etc.?
When I read this story, my reaction was: Hmm, maybe naturally-occurring methane levels are higher than we thought. But the LA Times's reaction seems to be: Hmm, people have been destroying the earth for much longer than we thought. The fact that this study undercuts the traditional environmentalist narrative about the link between the industrial revolution and global warming seems not to have occurred to them at all.
The global population was only about 200 million in the year 1 A.D., as opposed to 7 billion today. What kind of massive, "plant burning" SUV's were they driving back then to do so much damage?
It's truer than true: Julius Caesar drove a Cadillac Escalade, blinged out with spinning rims of strip-mined gold, and powered by the deforested ceders of Lebanon.