German Television Shocks…Outstanding Documentary On Historical Sudden Climate Changes Driven By Natural Factors

As part of its Terra-X series, ZDF German television presented a two-part documentary on January 11  and 18 on climate and human history. Rather than pushing senseless alarmism, the ZDF series did an excellent job looking at the powerful natural factors that drive climate, and how they can do so abruptly.

Hat-tip: Die kalte Sonne.

In Part 1 “Climate makes history“, the documentary looks at how abrupt climate changes indeed occurred in the past and how they had profound impacts on the development of our civilization, thus dumping cold water on the naïve notion that climate used to be more or less steady before humans began industrialization. Part 1 looks at the period of the last ice age and through the events leading up to the Roman Empire 2000 years ago.

Part 1 begins by telling us that extreme cold, heat and prolonged droughts are nothing new and that life comes and goes with the sudden changes in climate. More than once did very early man face extinction, “especially during the last ice age,” says the documentary. It wasn’t until the world’s climate warmed up during the Holocene that the human species truly prospered.

At the 3.30 mark we see a planet deep into an ice age, with northern Europe covered in ice and sea level over 100 meters below today’s levels. The species best suited to take the cold during this period was the meat-eating Neanderthal.

At the 6:20 mark the documentary points out that the climate changes dramatically, and that the main driver of the ice ages is the sun, principally the Milankovitch cycles. But also the ocean currents play an important.

At the 8:00 mark the documentary explains how the history of the climate could be reconstructed from sediment cores. These cores, the documentary shows, tells us that there were extreme temperature changes some 60,000 years ago. According to Prof. Frank Sirocko of the University of Mainz at the 9:40 mark:

We see that there were very rapid changes in climate. The warm phases and the cold phases changed abruptly, and in just 10 years, it jumps here.”

At the 10:22 mark Sirocko continues:

At this time the Neanderthals lived in a forest type vegetation. And in 10 years they found themselves in the middle of open steppes and the wild animals they were accustomed to hunting were no longer there. Such extreme climate changes in just 10 years were a real challenge for their hunting-oriented society.”

As the Neanderthals migrated, they soon clashed with homo sapiens, who eventually emerged victorious with the last Neanderthal disappearing 24,000 years ago.

Some 17,000 years ago, the earth’s position relative to the sun led to a thawing, with warm and moist conditions taking hold, allowing civilization to eventually prosper, especially though the development of agriculture, which allowed humans to specialize. Ten thousand years ago the city of Jericho was founded (18:45).

But at about this time, a major catastrophic event was developing in North America. A huge sea on the continent created by melting ice sheets broke through a barrier of ice and flowed like a tidal wave into the Atlantic at about 6200 BC (19:35)…(see graphic at 20:05 mark). This event disrupted the North Atlantic current and caused yet again another major climate disruption. Europe plunged into any icy phase and the Middle East cooled and entered a protracted period of drought – causing Middle Eastern and North African societies to collapse and unleashing a wave of “climate refugees” to Europe and Asia.

At the 22:00 mark, ZDF makes the misleading claim that sea level rose by 120 meters as a result of this event, when in fact most of that rise had already taken place from about 18,000 BC to 8,000 BC, and not all at once around 6200 BC. Moreover Noah’s Ark was built because of rains lasting “40 days and 40 nights”, and not because of the sudden sea level rise. At the 23:30 mark the documentary shows the uncovering of ancient cities that today are located underwater.

At the 24.30 mark we see that at about 6000 BC the Sahara was green and human life flourished, as evidenced by paintings uncovered by archeologists. The Sahara, the documentary says, was a savannah rich with wildlife. At the 26:45 mark British scientist Mark Maslin tells that they found archeological finds throughout the Sahara indicating a green, life-rich Sahara.

All of that came to an end, however, because of “sudden” natural climate change about 7000 years ago – caused by a tilting back of the earth, the documentary says. At the 28:00 mark archeologists studying human remains dated the green Sahara downfall at 3500 BC. Drought and expanding deserts were not restricted to the Sahara, but they also expanded across the globe, the documentary tells us at the 28:40 mark (see yellow areas on the graphic at the 28:57 mark)…The documentary says it was “caused by a slight shift in the earth’s axis”. As a result once again history witnessed huge exoduses of “climate refugees”, especially to the Nile River region, where the technology of irrigation was eventually developed (30:30) and the great Egyptian civilization was born. Not only Egypt prospered during the Bronze Age (3000 – 2000 BC), but so did many other civilizations (33:40 mark).

By now the global warming skeptic viewer begins to sense where the ZDF is leading: “Minor changes can have huge impacts”.

So prosperous were the warm times of the Bronze Age that many societies worshipped the sun (34:45).

But the prosperity of the Bronze Age also crashed at about 1200 BC (35:25) as marauding armies pillaged and plundered wave after wave. What was the cause of the Bronze Age collapse and all the war? At the 36:15 mark the documentary looks at some scientific theories, showing that it may have all been sparked by a climate change. Clues are found in caves in Turkey (37:00). German researcher Dominik Fleitmann examines stalactites for clues telling us about the climate of the past, at the time of the Bronze Age.

Indeed an examination of a stalagmite shows that the Bronze Age coincided with a period of severe drought at 1200 BC. At this time the stalactite shows a significant reduced growth rate due to a lack of water (38:45). The documentary concludes:

That means that at 1200 BC, there was no longer any heavy precipitation in the Mediterranean region. A period of drought took hold over the entire region.”

Fleitmann summarizes: All indication point out that it was dry and cold. A recipe for a disaster.” Massive climate change over to cold and dry conditions caused mass migration and destabilized the surrounding civilizations the documentary then explains.

At 40:39

Likely a climate anomaly was to blame. The world’s climate reached the coldest temperature since the end of the ice age. Precipitation dropped off massively.”

The cold period after the Bronze Age persisted for hundreds of years. The documentary tells how the cold eventually dissipated at about 350 BC, giving way to warm temperatures and more precipitation (41:00) and thus transforming the Middle East and North Africa into “a paradise of crops” – all culminating with the Roman Empire, which ZDF erroneously characterizes as a society where “every citizen enjoyed the same rights” when in fact half of Rome’s population were slaves.

But the ZDF got the last sentence of Part 1 right on why the Roman Empire prospered: “The climate was optimal“. It was warm – even warmer than today.

Overall Part 1 of this ZDF documentary is outstanding and should be presented in English. A rare hats off to the German ZDF television for this effort.

I’ll write something up about Part 2 tomorrow, which I surmise will be about the last 2000 years until today. We’ll see if Mann’s hockey stick gets confirmed or not.


22 responses to “German Television Shocks…Outstanding Documentary On Historical Sudden Climate Changes Driven By Natural Factors”

  1. crosspatch

    “Moreover Noah’s Ark was built because of rains lasting “40 days and 40 nights”, and not because of the sudden sea level rise. ”

    Well, the story of Noah is almost verbatim an old Mesopotamian story that Abraham would likely have heard growing up. It is possible that the days of rain was added as an embellishment to explain the rising of the water because the locals would have had no knowledge of North American glacial lakes bursting through ice dams. In fact, that was one of many old flood stories of that region, there were apparently several such tales in the Mesopotamian tradition that differed in various aspects.

    During the last glacial, what is now the Persian Gulf would have been a flat, fertile, river valley. It would likely have been a paradise for human habitation with mild climate and abundant water. The same would be true of the area that is now the Adriatic Sea (fed by the Po river). Both of those areas would have been very productive and conducive to human activity and both were inundated by rising sea levels. In fact, the Romans did have an ancient flood story in their mythology as Jupiter decided to “destroy the world”, as do the Celts who would have seen England and Ireland cut off from each other and England separated from Europe.

    These stories were likely oral traditions handed down over thousands of years before finally being written and were likely subject to some changes over time depending on which tribe’s version became dominant in a given area.

    1. Mike

      This Gilgamesh epic is clearly copied from something else. It is only the attempt to try and discredit the Bible that causes scholars to put it the other way around. Almost every nation has its flood story, from China to the American Indians. SOme Chinese manuscripts even have the same names as in Genesis, and even some Chinese symbols seem to represent this.

      With regard to the 40 days, you may be interested in the following:
      Each passing solar year can very effectively (even perfectly!) be measured and metered out by keeping track of every 40th day. Essentially, the annual transit which completes every 365.24219 days can just about EXACTLY be cross-referenced to a tally of those days that make up a 40-day cycle!
      This respective axiom is easy to prove in the regard that 1 day in a cycle of 40 days (the 40th day)inherently comprises 2.5 percent of the time stream. This rate is also inherently equal to 9.131055 days per year (on average).

      Somehow the ancients knew this and used it for measuring time.

  2. Alan Poirier

    Thanks for the synopsis. I truly enjoy your contributions. It’s revealing to see the debate unfold in what is likely the heart of alarmism.

  3. gary turner

    Re 40 days and nights of rain:

    It appears to me the the number 40 had magical significence to the ancients of the near and middle east: the flood’s 40 days and nights of rain; the Jews wandering in the wilderness for 40 years; Moses’s 40 days and nights’ sojourn on Mt. Sinai to receive the law; Jesus’s 40 days and nights in the desert; Ali Baba and the forty thieves; and likely more references that I’ve missed (e.g. Muslim mythology?).

    Or perhaps “40” of anything was simply a lot, large enough or long enough to be remarked by a mostly innumerate people.

  4. crosspatch

    Yes, that is true. 40 just basically meant “a whole bunch”.

    1. Mike Heath

      No, it was a way of counting years. See my post above once it gets accepted.

  5. Loodt Pretorius

    First off, we need a dubbed English version as soon as possible.

    Secondly, from what I have read so far we had three major inundation events in the past. The first was when the pillars of Hercules collapsed and the Mediterranean was formed – there are old villages and ruins below the Med – and the second was when the Black sea was formed – again ruins and ancient artifacts can be found below the existing water mark there.

    I haven’t even touched on the third event, when the Droggenland was swamped and the English channel was formed. Droggenland is so fascinating and all the artifacts recovered there were only found because of the oil exploration in the North Sea.

    Now lets move on the Neanderthals. Did we conquer them, fought with them until they died out or did we just breed with them until they and us were a uniform changed species? To this day there is no consensus. Blue eyes and Blonde hair found strangely enough in copious quantities in old European stock is reputed to be traits inherited from the Neanderthals. This year and next year we see papers arguing for and against this postulation. We all know that the science is settled.

  6. DirkH

    Maybe a desparate attempt by ZDF to regain credibility in the science field.

    They are losing very hard in politics (Ukraine, PEGIDA), and the CO2AGW war has been won forever by the warmists (the country has been turned into a huge wind energy subsidy plantation), so why not give a little hint of science again.

    I say defund them and sue each one of them for embezzlement and constitutional crimes for preparing an attack war (against Russia).

  7. DirkH

    Well it’s mostly a fairytale. But I’d like to say something very obvious. That researcher says that the climate suddenly shifted within 10years as he can see with his drill core.

    Well… isn’t that just the exact recording of the local weather at exactly that lake. Of course when glaciers retreat to mountain tops in that particular area or mountains become ice free the weather in that valley changes.

    Does this mean that the climate of all of Europe suddenly flipped? No. It means the weather at that sea flipped.

  8. DirkH

    Ouh. They still peddle the Out-Of-Africa theory. Well that’s been debunked.

    1. Loodt Pretorius

      DirkH, the out of Africa theory is still being debated.

      In the very magazine that you provided the link to is another article:

      So, like a shuttlecock being passed from one side of the court to another, the scientists keep on publishing pro and con papers, as the science is still not settled.

      Doing a search on the Neanderthal question shows the same backwards and forwards arguments.

  9. DirkH

    This is too stupid. They talk about the flood of the Agassi sea 8000 years ago but don’t even mention the gloabl Meltwater Pulse 1 A 12000 years ago (a date that coincides with Plato’s mention of the end of Atlantis) (100m global sea level rise)

    Can’t take any more. I’m out.

  10. JB

    It would seem that ZDF is trying to tiptoe out of the alarmist room quietly without too much fuss. Any bets on how soon the BBC, CBC, PBS and Australias ABC follow suit.

    1. DirkH

      Another thought. CO2AGW was the third campaign to lift oil prices up.
      (First one was Rockefeller’s influence to have Rock Oil declared as of biological origin, in 1892; second one Kissinger’s engineered oil crisis 1973).

      This has spectacularly failed now and it’s still unwinding and taking out hedge funds left right and center. (trollion dollar carry trade, was long oil and short the Dollar; as oil drops so the Dollar rises in the biggest short squeeze of history)

      It could be that CO2AGW is now a spent force; and Big Oil+Gas is busy finding new excuses why oil prices must be sky high.

  11. Jozef

    Sounds like a great doc, is there a version with English dubbing or subtitles?

  12. John F. Hultquist

    Thanks for this.

    The part about a sudden tilt change:
    This seems to come from folks arguing about the age of ‘The Sphinx’ and related matters. Makes no sense.
    The part about a huge sea in North America breaking through a barrier of ice about 6200 BC etc., and the graphic that goes with it is a combination of things that happened but still very far from an actual event. There were various places and times when ice-margin lakes drained from the continent. They show only one. The most abrupt one, that might be likened to a “tidal wave” was on the Pacific side, via the Columbia River. Ice-margin lakes drained south into the Gulf of Mexico, east toward (now) Albany, NY (Mohawk River) into the Hudson River and past NYC. The last exits were out the St. Lawrence and also north into Hudson Bay and also into the Arctic Ocean.
    Key words: Lake Maumee; Lake Iroquois; and Lake Missoula

  13. Ed Caryl

    Lake Missoula drained and refilled about 20 times over a span of 1000 years. It wasn’t one big flood. The ice dam flowing south out of Canada kept flowing then breaking, like the flapper valve in a toilet, every 50 or so years for a thousand years. Raised h*ll with the locals.

    1. John F. Hultquist

      It is now believed the number of floods exceeded 50 but it keeps changing.
      For those not familiar with this topic use this set of words ‘ice age floods institute’.
      Bing will also show a few links to video but with Google you have to use the Videos tab to see those.
      About “the locals” some might say there were none of the human type around. The local Yakamas – if they will talk to you – will tell you their ancestors sat on the hill sides and watched.

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