Some real climate changes

By April 17, 2019Other

Website essay 78:  17 April 2019

Every now and then I read something that changes my thinking, or fascinates me, so that I go on to more and more reading in the area. One of my sons gave me a book to read, saying that I might find it interesting. The book, Fingerprints of the Gods, is by Graham Hancock, not a scientist or an historian, and plainly almost an obsessive. More about the book shortly.

Thirty or more years ago I became interested in the myth of the lost city of Atlantis, of which Plato is the early historian, and read a book about the ancient island of Thera, today’s Santorini, which exploded volcanically. The thirty-metre tsunami that followed probably ended the Minoan Civilisation. The area is still the most volcanically active region in the Eastern Mediterranean. At about the same time I read Dennis Wheatley’s They Found Atlantis, a page-turner of the day, though it was first published in 1936.

Mr Hancock is not at all interested in Atlantis, for there are only two page references to it in the nearly 600 pages in his book. But he is most interested in another myth, familiar to us all through the Biblical story of Noah and the Ark. He shows, quite convincingly in my judgment, that these deluge stories are universal, even in ‘far-off’ Australia. They are all set in an ancient time, long before the eras of the narrators, which Hancock calls ‘historic times’. They have much the same story-line: the gods are angry, and decide to exterminate mankind, all but one good man and his lady, who are told to build a boat, or a secure place high up, and wait for the floods to recede. They are instructed to take with them a small sample of living creatures so that the eco-system can start multiplying again (why did you bring the mosquito, Noah?), and they do that too.

We know that at the end of the last Ice Age the ice lay two miles thick above New York, and there were comparably large glaciations across Europe and Asia. We even had small glaciers here in Australia. The last Ice Age was a completely global event that reached its maximum size about 17,000 years ago, having started its accumulation much earlier, perhaps 60,000 years ago. The Glacial Maximum was followed by seven thousand years of deglaciation, ending around 10,000 years ago, which is, not at all coincidentally, the beginning of the period of agriculture and human settlement in villages, the start of our modern human civilisation.

Hancock makes two important points, or perhaps it would be better to say that he reminded me of two important points made by others. The first is that the process of deglaciation was comparatively rapid. Just think about it: two vertical miles of ice disappearing in a few thousand years — disappearing altogether. The earth began to rebound. The melting was accompanied by all sorts of other climatic events, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, unexpected floods. For example, an early period of melting produced a vast lake in North America, known as Lake Agassiz. The size of this lake was equivalent to the present Black Sea. It waxed and waned, but eventually its ice-wall collapsed and a vast flood swept over adjacent lands.

Second, though rapid, and like Lake Agassiz, the melting had its own staccato history. While the Bible pictures Noah and the Ark as a single event, it is much more likely that there were dozens of comparable events, and humanity had to live through them. They must have been terrible times in which to live. And the worst, it seems, was the two thousand years between 11,000 and 9,000 years ago, the last flick of the glacial tail. Now comes the spooky part.

One of the enduring puzzles of the Egyptian civilisation is how a scattered group of riverside dwellers in the Nile delta were able to design and build the three colossal structures known as the Great Pyramids of Giza, and the frowning Sphinx, very close by.  That mystery has deepened as new techniques have disclosed that the pyramids are part of an astronomical observatory. Where did the maths and physics come from? The dimensions of the biggest Pyramid (of Cheops, the name I learned when studying Egyptian history) are astonishingly correct, to a tolerance that we would find hard to match today. Further mystery: it is as though the ancient Egyptians came into being already equipped with such knowledge, because there are no preceding structures that show the patient learning by trial and error that usually accompanies technological changes. Mystery upon mystery: after the great pyramids there are no more. Succeeding ‘monuments’, if that is what they were, are wholly inferior in design and accomplishment. Why did the Egyptians suddenly lose their skills in this art form?

Hancock says, confidently, that the great pyramids were built very much earlier, and he puts the timing at about 11,000 years ago, and by another race altogether, one wiped out by the last destructive period referred to above. Whoops! You don’t like it? Its boldness worries me, too. Others have posited a group of extra-terrestrials. Conventional Egyptology will have no part of it. The pyramids are named after the Pharaohs who are thought to have commissioned them during their reigns, and that’s that. Hmm. The mysteries remain, I think. 

Hancock wheels in the Sphinx, so to speak, which was carved out of the bedrock in a single piece. Its face has been obliterated, and its surface has been affected by wind — and sand, cry the Egyptologists! No, says a geologist. The striations in the rock are vertical, and were caused by water, not sand. The Sphinx is surrounded by sand, and the wind will fill up the cavity from which it was hewn in the space of a decade or two. A lot of rain must have descended on the head of the Sphinx. The Egyptians kept excellent records of the weather of the Nile over a very long period. There was no such rainfall in historic times. Bradford puts the last likely deluge in the 11,000 year-ago-period. So there you are. A lovely set of mysteries, and all to do with the most recent and destructive climate change humanity has known.

So where does Hancock think the older civilisation came from? Antarctica. Yep, before it was completely covered by ice several thousand years ago. And he has a lovely piece of quasi evidence, the Piri Reis map,drawn in the early sixteenth century by a Turkish admiral and cartographer. It purports to show a chunk of Antarctica as it was before the ice. And a recent study of the land-mass below the present-day ice, using techniques that were not available until recently, suggests that the Piri Reis map is pretty right. Where did the Turkish cartographer get those data from? He didn’t say, and we don’t know. Another mystery.

Well, there you are. I’m taking no sides in this battle. But I am prepared to say that Hancock’s book raises mysteries that are simply not yet explained to anyone’s satisfaction, unless they are ‘believers’. I leave it you, the interested readers, to sort out your own views. Hancock has written other books in this genre, and there is a new one coming out — perhaps it’s already out: The Message of the Sphinx. As I said at the beginning, he’s something of an obsessive.

Finally, I have come to understand that there are puzzles that are not solvable today, and may not be solvable for a long time. I accept that. It is a mistake to think that we know everything that is important. We know what we know today. Our descendants fifty years ahead, in 2069, will very likely know a great deal more, and perhaps puzzle at our ignorance.

Join the discussion 37 Comments

  • John Stankevicius says:

    Hi Don
    Check put “orbits and ice ages” by Dr Daniel Britt on you tube. It runs for 56 minutes and starts off with an image of the North Pole – no ice but sand rock and trees.

    • Chris Warren says:

      John Stankevicius

      Yes, I think this video is both interesting and germane.

      Britt seems to suggest that global warming started 8,000 years ago with CO2 and 8,000 years ago with methane.

      He also suggests that the natural (pre-human) level was around 260 ppm and that GHGs lifted this to 280 during the pre-industrial age.

      His chart at 30m 20 sec seems to suggest that insolation (at 65N) will not vary much relative to past fluctuations.

      He also associates past warm-cool cycles with Milancovitch cycles.

      It also seems not possible to explain todays rocketing of CO2 with any natural cause as the last 10,000 year have been associated with a cooling trend which should have absorbed CO2 into water from the atmosphere.

      • Boambee John says:


        Your alarmist language here and previously, using phrases such as “todays rocketing of CO2” and references to half degree temperature increases every 50 years for ever, does not sit well with the almost laid-back attitude displayed in your proposed response, posted in the election thread:

        “Chris Warren
        April 16, 2019 at 1:54 pm

        … with proper population management and some verified carbon capture, then per capita reduction solves the problem at minimal cost and we can take 30 years or so to do it.”

        Should we take drastic measures now, or follow your relaxed 30 year time frame?

        • Chris Warren says:

          Boambee John

          What are alarms for???????

          If you do not see the problem you are not awake.

          • Boambee John says:


            So, do you reject the Greens’ demand that Australia cease the use and export of coal by 2030, less than half way into your 30 year time frame? Clearly you think that we have time to respond to the alarm, whereas following the Greens’ timetable seems certain to reduce Australia to the current status of Venezuela.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Boambee John

            All coal ends up in the atmosphere except for some carbon capture.

            I think 10years is long enough for a phase out accompanied with labour market programs. However if the commitment was to phase out somewhat later, say 2035-40, this would be OK provided we are reducing per capita and population growth is not excessive.

            This is a longer period than applied when we eliminated tobacco plantations and we need to boost services exports to maintain our economic position – education exports, health exports, and so on.

            If direct air capture develops sufficiently over the next decades, then this can all be revisited.

          • Boambee John says:


            Can you state with absolute confidence that renewabaubles plus our limited hydro will be adequate to operate our economy by 2030, keep the hospitals and schools running, and provide the generation capacity to keep hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles charged? Plus everything else that provides a modern lifestyle?

            Because if we phase out coal by then, there are not many alternatives, particularly as you reject nuclear.

            Phasing out around 80% of our generation capacity in 10 years is a lot different to phasing out the tobacco industry.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    I picked up Hancock’s book when I was I the US some years ago, and I agree it is fascinating. However, I wonder whether modern societies can possibly appreciate what might be achievable by an enormous workforce willing (or compelled) to work at the dictates of one man. Few of us now can even comprehend the devotion required to spend a hundred years building the Notre Dame cathedral.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Yes Don, It seems reasonably obvious that Egypt got a lot of early assistance from an outside source and it is understandable that they wouldn’t have necessarily revered and preserved that history.

    We in Australia can’t observe much historic climate and weather effect in our weather-worn, relatively flat country but it is none the less obvious that what has happened even relatively recently due to natural occurrences so far outstrips the current “climate change” that half the world is panicking about that it would be extremely funny if proposals to “rectify” weren’t so silly and financially crippling.

    “Our descendants fifty years ahead, in 2069, will very likely know a great deal more, and perhaps puzzle at our ignorance.”

    Our grandchildren do already, Don. That’s why they hold climate and vegan strikes.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      “It seems reasonably obvious that Egypt got a lot of early assistance from an outside source”

      I don’t subscribe to the view that people in those times were any less able or inventive than in our own, though I will admit that they may have been more susceptible to political or religious pressure. The Piri Reis map may be pretty right, but there is no reason to believe that people could not have got into those areas. See Tim Severin’s account of the Brendan Voyage.

      • spangled drongo says:

        The Egyptians failed to retain their world leading knowledge which goes against the usual process of evolution and suggests that it may have come from other quarters.

        But maybe when a certain religion of peace took over, as with Persia and many Middle East kingdoms, it had a similar mind-numbing effect.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Yes Bryan, the middle earth intellect and ability of those days was absolutely brilliant and quite capable of amazing feats.

        The Greeks, Romans and Semites were outstanding and probably quite capable of producing those Egyptian wonders.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    Fascinating piece Don, thank you, and coming at the right time of the year. Four days of no appointments etc to soak it up and chase loose ends.

  • Ian MacCulloch says:

    This is most interesting paper (see link) on sea level changes published in 2014. It is quiet comprehensive though in conclusion viii there are some most interesting sea level change rates. – A period of sea-level rise from ?14 to ?12.5 ka BP of ?20 m in 1,500 y. The rate of rise is near the long-term average. Data are relatively dense in this interval and come from well-distributed sites (Barbados, Tahiti, Sunda, Huon Peninsula, Australia and New Zealand, Indian Ocean, and the Yellow and East China seas).

    It should be able to put Mr Hancock’s assertions into some perspective

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    “But maybe when a certain religion of peace took over”, it all turned into climate change.

  • Neville says:

    BJ forget about Chris and his silly nonsense, but use simple logic and reason. If co2 is a problem you would go after the countries emitting 90%+ of the increase in emissions over the last few decades.
    Those countries are China, India and the non OECD, not the developed OECD, like OZ and our tiny 1.2% of global emissions.
    BTW Alberta Canada elections have just seen a landslide to the Conservatives and hopefully this will see Trudeau ousted after their next fed election. They’ve won by fighting hard against any co2 taxes and all the clueless posturing by the left wing extremists. See link.

    • Chris Warren says:


      In order to engage with other nations effectively – we need to show that we have our own house in order.

      The developed world has the resources to be “first movers” and set a standard. OECD economies only developed by GHG emissions in the past, so there is no moral license to pretend that the only consideration is emissions from now on.

      Denialists are using the emissions from developing nations as a cover for protecting fossil fuel profits within the developed world.

      • Neville says:

        Just more silly nonsense from Chris. In fact OZ is probably a very large net co2 sink as this article explains. Perhaps we should be seeking payments for our good work.
        Willis covered this as well some time ago using the latest satellite biosphere mapping around the world. If we add in OZ external territories like parts of the COLD southern ocean and large part of Antarctica the net sink is even further enhanced.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Neville, new age socialists like our blith don’t wish to know the facts in their striving for totalitarianism and destruction of the capitalist system.

          Capitalism is all about selfishness and our blith only wants to share everything equally.

          This tiny bit of global warming is the New Age Socialists’ big chance to rectify their mistakes of last century when they had to kill so many millions in order to share everything equally.

          Our blith fails to be aware that his type of thinking denies the reality of man’s selfishness and is contradictory to the idea of freedom.

          This is why socialism has to be enforced by law and also why it has always failed.

          But we have demonstrated many times how our blith is not one to live in the real world and we should not expect much better from him.

          Sometimes I do see signs of improvement but then his ideology and belief always come to the fore and over ride his logic.

      • Boambee John says:


        “In order to engage with other nations effectively – we need to show that we have our own house in order.”

        If you seriously believe that China or India are just waiting for Australia to lead the way, I have a bridge to sell you.

        They are quite happy to watch us destroy our industrial base, so that they can increase their exports to us, but they have absolutely no intention of doing the same to their own industrial base.

      • spangled drongo says:

        “In order to engage with other nations effectively – we need to show that we have our own house in order.”

        When blith never puts his head out the window maybe it’s only the “inside” that counts:

    • spangled drongo says:

      Yes Neville, wonderful news about Alberta.

      They have sent a message to the world about global warming.

  • Neville says:

    Here’s that post from Willis showing OZ to be the third largest co2 sequestering country on the planet. But if you also added our cold territories we would be number one.

    This data comes from the Japanese Ibuki satellite. Nice clear graphics from Willis. So where are our reparations cheques and why aren’t we building new coal power stations? We’ve earned it.

    • Chris Warren says:


      You do realise that the excess flux from the map of 0.26 gm/per day/per m2 equates to around 4.75 GT C per year.

      This has increased since then to around 5 GT C or around 18 GT CO2.

      Others have shown the flux imbalance average from 2008-17 was 17.3 GT CO2 per year.

      It is global warming NOT Australian warming.

      Cherry-picking Australia is a denialist tactic.

  • Neville says:

    This 2019 GOSAT data shows a map with Co2 emissions shown by colour. The NH is much higher than the SH and OZ and NZ are in the box seat again. So where’s our money for being the world sequestration champs?

    • spangled drongo says:

      Neville, instead of us having to buy carbon credits as BS suggests, the world should be paying us for ours.

      • Neville says:

        SD that’s true and just think of the jobs our bosses could provide, plus the hospitals, schools, cancer research, better roads, better rail etc we could have if we didn’t waste 25 bn $ on silly scraps of paper for their fra-dulent so called carbon credit con.
        But don’t worry the cultists will always truly believe these BS merchants and always ignore proper data and evidence. Silly religious dogma wins them over every time.

  • Neville says:

    Perhaps we should link to this comment from Chief scientist Dr Finkel every day of every week, just so the religious fanatics can’t escape the proper science and evidence of their so called CAGW?
    Yet stupid BS Bill Shorten wants to waste 100s of billions $ on this fra-dulent con for a guaranteed rolled gold zero change for the climate by 2100 and way beyond as well.
    Thanks again to Andrew Bolt for his comments and providing the link. This should be shown to every school kid in OZ and silly fools like BS Bill and clueless Tania Plibersek.

  • Neville says:

    More proof that the Climate change movement really is a cult. They tick EVERY box, or a perfect score of 10 out of 10. Big surprise, NOT.

  • Neville says:

    Bjorn Lomborg explains why Trump was correct to leave the Paris agreement. Fairly simple to point out that wasting 100 TRILLION dollars on this lunacy might only reduce warming by SFA.

  • spangled drongo says:

    You have to admit that Trump is only behaving like a rational sceptic.

    We go from this:

    To this:

    In only 15 years of the best that c?l?i?m?a?t?e? ?s?c?i?e?n?c?e? enuresis has to offer.

    The things wicked humans can do to our lovely planet in only 15 years.

  • Neville says:

    The latest 2019 study of Duvat et al shows that coral island states are doing well from their so called AGW SLR. This agrees with the latest studies from Kench etc and many other recent studies available at the link.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Very interesting, Neville. Good empirical evidence.

      Is this [from that paper] just a polite way of saying that cli-sci SLR is little more than BS?

      “therefore, it seems obvious that model-based predictions of rapidly rising sea levels due to anthropogenic global warming are not presently having, nor will they likely have in the future, any negative impact on atoll island stability.”

  • spangled drongo says:

    While some scientists are rational sceptics [true scientists] others are true believers:

  • spangled drongo says:

    Attenbollocks describes it well.

    High on emotion but low on facts:

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