California Experienced Mega-Epoch Droughts from Natural Global Warming and Climate Change Long Before Fossil Fuels Say Friends of Science

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Recent comments by President Obama and Mayor Garcetti of Los Angeles are misinformed about Californian drought, say Friends of Science, citing the historic evidence of mega-epoch droughts throughout the Medieval Warm Period. Global warming stopped naturally about 16 years ago; droughts are affected by the position of the jet stream and other natural factors according to scientific experts.

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Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti claimed the California drought, monster snowstorms and extreme weather are a result of global warming and fossil fuel use as reported in the LA Times on Feb. 16, 2014. This same report quotes President Obama as stating “carbon pollution …causes climate change.” Both comments are disputed by Friends of Science.

According to research cited in the book “The Great Warming” by Brian Fagan, a leading authority on climate and human society, California experienced mega-epoch droughts throughout the Medieval Warm Period, a time of marked natural global warming from A.D. 950 to 1250.

Fagan refers to research by Scott Stine on Owens Lake on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range in California – a lake that once covered some 115 square miles, and which continuously held water more than 800,000 years. Stine found that in A.D. 1250 plentiful rainfall “gave way to an intense drought which lasted over a century.”

Repeated periods of drought in the region began before A.D. 910 lasting to 1100; a second period began before 1210 and ended around 1350 with the warmest period being between A.D.1128 and 1167.

The biggest human influence on the drought noted in Fagan’s book, occurs in modern times in 1913 when the LA Department of Water and Power diverted streams and the river that fed Owens Lake. It went from being a lake to becoming a salt flat the size of San Francisco responsible for the largest single source of dust pollution in the US, according to a March 11, 2013 NPR report.

In his book, Fagan writes: "These major droughts [of the Medieval Warm Period] occurred because the winter jet stream over the northeastern Pacific, with its associated storm tracks, stayed well north of California and the Great Basin.”

The view that natural variability is the cause of the current drought is supported by Richard Seager, a climate scientist who studies water issues at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, reported in comments in the National Post published Feb. 17, 2014.

“These statements by Mayor Garcetti and President Obama highlight the need to broaden the conversation on causes of climate change,” says Gregory. “As our recent deconstruction of the alleged 97% consensus shows, only 1-3% of scientists in 3 "consensus" surveys explicitly stated agreement with the IPCC declarations on global warming, and no agreement with a catastrophic view.”

President Obama is quoted in the LA Times Feb. 16, 2014 report as saying “Unless and until we do more to combat carbon pollution that causes climate change, this trend is going to get a lot worse.”

However, the July 18, 2013 testimony before US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works by Roger Pielke, Jr. clearly disputes this with evidence showing there are no extreme weather trends.    

“Carbon dioxide is essential to life,” says Gregory. “Richard Tol of the University of Sussex claims that warming – just 0.75 °C (1.35 °F), since 1900 - has actually improved crop production world-wide and responsible for an increased global economic welfare by 1.4%, about US$ 1.2 Trillion.”

Friends of Science hold the position that the sun is the major driver of climate change, not CO2.


Friends of Science have spent a decade reviewing a broad spectrum of literature on climate change and have concluded the sun is the main driver of climate change, not carbon dioxide (CO2). The core group of the Friends of Science is made up of retired earth and atmospheric scientists.

Friends of Science Society
P.O. Box 23167, Connaught P.O.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2S 3B1
Toll-free Telephone: 1-888-789-9597
E-mail: contact(at)

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Michelle Stirling
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