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Did Climate Change Cause the Salem Witch Trials?

As we know courtesy of The Warmlist, climate change is implicated as the cause or contributing factor to everything from Afghan poppie crop failure to zoonotic diseases, but did you know it can also be implicated in outbreaks of witchcraft in the Middle Ages?

That’s the argument of two recent academic papers, which attempt to connect the nearly 1 million women put to death for witchcraft in the Middle Ages to the Little Ice Age that, ironically, the climateers have tried to deny or minimize for quite a while now.  Now, of course, the argument is being reversed—if we don’t pay heed to the climateers warnings, witchcraft might return?  (Seems to me too many of the climateers take seriously the proceedings of the UN General Assembly.  Or have studied voodoo economics in Haiti.)

The first paper, by Emily Oster, a Ph.D student in economics at Harvard, is a straightforward economic analysis, noting that the economy of Europe deteriorated significantly during the Little Ice Age, and that witches were blamed and then punished for it.  (Today, of course, witches would be appointed economic advisers in the Obama Administration.)  From Oster:

In general, there is overlap in the time period of the colder weather and the witchcraft trials. Over this period trials are generally rising and then falling, while the temperature is falling and then rising. In addition to this general overlap, one of the sharpest drops in temperature in the little ice age roughly coincides with the reinvigoration of witchcraft trials around 1560, after a 70-year lull. It is possible that this drop in temperature was a catalyzing factor in the regrowth of the trials. Some anecdotal evidence also suggests that witchcraft accusations in Europe may have been connected with periods of particularly extreme weather. Behringer (1995, 1999) notes the overlap between the period of the little ice age and the witchcraft trials and provides several examples of large storms or other weather anomalies that were cited in specific trials. For example, Behringer (1999) shows historical evidence that the particularly cold May in the year 1626 was associated with a renewed call among peasants for persecution of witches and sorcerers in the Franconian town Zeil.

The second paper, by someone named Promode Kant of the Institute of Green Economy in India, is much less rigorous than Oster, but nonetheless includes some gems of detail that I hadn’t fully known about:

In the year 963 AD Greenland was actually green enough with a large population for the Pope to have appointed a Bishop at its southern tip to provide religious services to the booming economy and also to add the brave, but heathen, Vikings to the burgeoning Christianity of that era. . .

As the Little Ice Age deepened climatic anomalies of nature hitherto unknown or at least infrequent, began occurring with increasing frequency. Meteorological changes left their footprints across the globe and hailstorms became very frequent. One of the widely reported thunderstorm that hit almost the entire central Europe occurred on August 3, 1562. It brought darkness at noon and destroyed houses, crops and vineyards killing birds and cattle over thousands of square kilometres. The severity was such that the devout thought that the Last Judgement had begun. Famine followed the destruction of crops and the resultant poverty forced mass migration within and across the continents.

These changes in nature appeared so out of tune that they were considered unnatural.

Wait!  I thought the weather anomalies of our time—global “weirding” some are calling it—were the result of global warming, but you mean they can happen because of cooling, too?  Or is it just climate change?  Anyway, the complete range of ironies is totally lost on the warmists today, who constitute the most zealous cabal of witch hunters against any dissidents from green orthodoxy.

Recommend this Power Line article to your Facebook friends.

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