Untold Story of Climate’s Holocene Gift to Humanity

By Vijay Jayaraj

News reports of summer heatwaves often perversely misrepresent a modern climate favorable to human flourishing in order to fearmonger the false narrative of catastrophic global warming.

The geological epoch of the Holocene, which roughly corresponds to the last 11,700 years, is a time of warmth that has been vital in fostering the diversity and adaptability of life on our planet – not a curse as popularly portrayed. The relevance of the Holocene interglacial period to humanity’s survival cannot be overstated.

The development and maintenance of life on Earth have been greatly aided by the Holocene – sometimes called the age of man.

Nearly 12 millennia back, the Holocene ended glacial stages known as the Wisconsin in North America and Weichselian in Europe, which had begun between 75,000 and 100,00 years ago. As previously ice-covered regions became accessible for colonization, plant and animal species expanded their geographical range and the Earth’s overall biodiversity.

This period saw the rise of ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley and China, each of which made contributions to the advancement of human culture and numbers. There were a mere 170 million people on earth at the end of the first century, about half the population of the U.S. in 2023. Today the world has more than 8 billion people.

The Holocene’s stable climate allowed people to raise animals and grow crops in a predictable and conducive setting and to transition from a hunter-gatherer existence. Food surpluses produced by agriculture freed up time for government, science, literature, art, music and other endeavors. Trade networks and economic systems arose, allowing for the flow of goods, innovative concepts and cultural practices between locations.

The period’s relatively constant sea levels of the past 7,000 years have fostered growth and prosperity of coastal ecosystems, including diverse marine life, coral reefs and estuaries.

The Holocene’s climate stability also had an impact on precipitation patterns, which helps to explain why rainfall in many locations has been quite consistent. This dependability has facilitated the development of a variety of habitats, including wetlands, grasslands and forests.

Despite all this, much of the public today has been led to believe that warming is dangerous. Many do not know of the Little Ice Age’s threats to human existence.

In Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, the Little Ice Age wreaked havoc on agriculture. Widespread food scarcity, economic unrest, and societal difficulties were brought on by the extreme cooling, shorter growing seasons and crop failures. Those troubled times underscore how crucial climate stability is to sustaining human civilization.

The lessons from the Little Ice Age are pertinent today as we grapple with the confused narrative of global warming. Rather than vilifying life-saving warmth, policy makers should be taking advantage of today’s friendly climate by focusing on rational development of agriculture and industry, including the proper exploitation of fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

Teaching our youth about Earth’s long climatic history would provide the right context for such an approach. Sadly, much of today’s education, particularly in some public schools, has been corrupted by the pseudoscience of the global warming scare.

However, attempts to correct such lapses in critical thinking and scientific discipline are being made. One is a newly launched CO2 Learning Center offering to both students and educators books, videos and lesson plans that present science free of a political agenda. It may be only a start, but it is an important one.

This commentary was first published at [Your] News, July 14, 2023, and can be accessed here.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia. He holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK and resides in India.

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