Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When good articles have bad titles

I am yet again pointing out an aricle on, this time to call BS on the title of a piece about how climate affected the growth of the Inca Empire early in the last millenium.

The article is called "Global warming may have aided Inca Empire." Really? I thought. Now that is interesting. I love history and finding a historical link to my actually schooling and work as a meteorologist, I thought that was just fascinating.

Until, it turned out that it isn't actually "global" warming that the authors of the original study (PDF) say caused this, but rather an area of regional warming. The authors actually this toward the end of their actual study:

From an even broader perspective, the notion that temperatures were consistently higher than modern values during the 9th–14th centuries has received increasing attention in the Northern Hemisphere. The prevailing view of this interval, known commonly as the “Medieval Warm Period” (MWP), is that elevated temperatures were often only intermittently experienced and, in some regions, was apparently characterized instead by climatic anomalies such as prolonged drought, increased rainfall or a stronger monsoon system. However, evidence for the MWP being a global phenomenon is contentious, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, where there are few continuous, detailed palaeoclimatic records spanning this interval. Nevertheless, from the Marcacocha dataset we can infer that temperatures increased from ca. AD 1100 (after a period of relative aridity in comparison to much of the first millennium AD) and that conditions remained warm and stable for several centuries thereafter. (citations removed for clarity)

So, not global warming. Now the article on doesn't actually credit global warming either. It uses phrased like "400-year warm spell." And the article does detail some important steps that Peru, currently feeling the affect of global warming due to glacial melting, could take to lessen the future impact. But it's not global warming. I can only imagine how some of the deniers will twist that headline...

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