Why 536 AD was the worst year to be alive: Scientists say a mysterious fog that blocked out the sun causing crop failures and widespread famine was the worst global disaster in history. By Joe Pinkstone.
Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia were plunged into 18 months of solid darkness by a mysterious fog.
It caused snowfall in China, continental-scale crop failure, extreme drought, famine and disease throughout most of the northern hemisphere.
The bleak year was triggered by a cataclysmic Icelandic eruption, scientists say, and was an ominous omen for a bleak century of suffering and death. Michael McCormick, a Harvard University archaeologist and medieval historian, told Science Magazine that the world did not show signs of recovery until 640AD. …
The eerie fog created a drab world with darkness residing over the northern hemisphere for 18 months, with an unrelenting dusk persevering through day and night.
Effects on the climate were so severe that the Irish chronicles tell of ‘a failure of bread from the years 536–539’.
The international devastation triggered by the unidentified fog gave rise to the moniker ‘The Dark Ages‘ which has been used to refer to this ominous time.
Causes of the event have remained a mystery to scientists since it was first discovered via tree ring analysis that the world’s temperature dipped for several years at this point in time.
Dr McCormick and glaciologist Paul Mayewski at the Climate Change Institute of The University of Maine (UM) in Orono believe to have finally put the riddle to bed.
In their study, published in the journal Antiquity, the researchers reveal it was likely caused by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Iceland.
It’s easy to cool the Earth, should it get too warm — just put some tiny reflective dust particles in the atmosphere, to reflect more of the incoming sunlight back out to space. For instance, this was inadvertently done by the 500 atmospheric nuclear tests from 1945 to 1980 (mainly halted by treaty in 1963), which kicked up dust into the stratosphere where it stays for a few years before falling out.
But we cannot warm the Earth if it gets too cool. For the last million years the Earth has been in a pattern of ice age for about 100,000 years, then an “interglacial” (a warmer period, like now) for 10,000 years. The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago — you do the math. We do not really know what caused the ice ages — there are some leading theories that are pretty good, but none wholly satisfactory. We have no idea of how to warm the Earth when the next ice age comes around. Don’t bother saying “increase carbon dioxide”, because the effect is too small — the climate models exaggerate it (there is a mistake in all the climate models, book soon).
hat-tip Scott of the Pacific