Bad news, global warming enthusiasts. The world was actually warmer in Roman and Medieval times than it is now. In fact, the world has been on a cooling trend for the past 2,000 years, according to new research.
The study says that tree-rings hold the secret to understanding the history of climate change, and that the rings of fossilized trees show that the earth actually used to be much warmer than it is today, and has even been slowly cooling down. “Measurements stretching back to 138BC prove that the Earth is slowly cooling due to changes in the distance between the Earth and the sun,” notes the Daily Mail.
“We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low,” says Professor-Doktor Jan Esper of the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, one of the scientists leading the study. “Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy.”
The science: Tree rings are actually very helpful in the reconstruction of long-term temperature trends. The assumption is that warmer summers make for wider rings. Esper thinks that some rings actually show a long-term cooling trend, where traditional assumptions show little-to-no change until relatively recently. Esper’s says that the cooling trend is thanks to reduced solar heating caused by changes to the Earth’s orbit known as Milankovitch wobbles. His results put the Roman era at 0.6 °C warmer than previously thought, making it warm enough for alleged grape vines in northern England to be a possibility.
Though the research is still new and unchallenged as of the now, the findings do support other studies in the same vein – findings such as the chemical makeup of air trapped in glaciers and the organic remains in ancient lake sediments have also suggested a cooling trend, notes New Scientist.
You can read the article in all of its science-y glory here.
We won’t get into the political ramifications of this discovery should this research prove true. That’s for you to do in the comments!