CH A (1-8)

Chapter A. How to change Climate
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Do you want to have a freezing winter? Start a war at sea!
Do you want to change global climate? Start a global naval war!

Autor: Dr. Arnd Bernaerts (date of publication 2006)
NOTE: All book images replaced
Publisher: iuniverse/USA

One cold wave after the other took hold of Northern Europe in what was called an arctic climate, since mid-December 1939. Nothing similar has happened in more than 100 years. Only three months earlier, more than 1000 naval vessels went out on sea and turned the waters of the North- and Baltic Sea upside-down. Day and night, week after week, many thousands of ships criss-crossed these seas, millions of “sea fountains” sprang up, being caused by shells, bombs, depth charges, sea mines, torpedoes. Ships and airplanes sank to the sea bottom with hundreds.

By mid-February 1940, The New York Times (NYT, the 14th of February 1940) reported another arctic cold wave:

“Europe suffered tonight in the paralysing grip of the bitterest cold in more than 100 years”.
“At least 56 people died from Scandinavia to the Danube”.
“The cold wave extended from the Arctic fringes of Norway and Finland to the Netherlands and Hungary”.

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“The Netherlands Weather Bureau recorded the lowest temperature ever recorded in this country, 11.2 degrees below zero Fahrenheit” (-11.2 F corresponds to -24°C).
“Water transportation in the Netherlands is completely paralysed. The canals have been covered with thick ice for more than six weeks. Hundreds of persons abandoned their homes in the face of crushing ice packs boiling up from ice-blocked canals, rivers and seas”.
“In Copenhagen the temperature has dropped to 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-25°C)”.
“The Baltic Sea was frozen over for the first time in many years. Islands along the coast of the Netherlands and the Baltic were isolated. All day they sent out SOS calls for coal and foodstuff”.
“In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, more than 10,000 persons suffered severe cases of frost-bite. At least five persons froze to death in the three Baltic countries where temperatures reached -54 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-47°C) for the first time in 150 years”.

The unusually pronounced cold winter in Northern Europe went on for many weeks. In Sweden, all cold records were broken during the 19th/20th of February, with 32 degrees below zero F (-35.5°C), the coldest temperature since 1805 (NYT, the 23rd of February 1940).

The political factor

If war at sea changes the climate, such an event would have tremendous political implications. If there are significant political 5implications in 2006, there must have been in 1939 too, but unfortunately no one knew what was at stake at that time.

In the summer of 1939, a major world war was looming. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried desperately to persuade the German Chancellor Adolph Hitler not to push the world into another major war. The threat of the climate change was not among the argument list that Chamberlain used to convince his opponent. His efforts were in vain. Hitler wanted a war and he started it in September 1939. The war lasted six years and initiated the longest and biggest climate change of the last century.

This book is about oceans, wars at sea and climate changes. It focuses on two major climate changes, which happened because man abused oceans through naval warfare two times during the last century. The last and most dramatic climate change occurred sixty-five years ago, generated three arctic winters in Northern Europe and cooled the world down for four decades.

6Fifty million people were killed and the infrastructure and economy of many countries was ruined during World War II (WWII). But there are more tragic consequences that have not been seriously tackled yet. With the beginning of the war, in 1939, the warm climate switched to a cold phase, which lasted four decades. Now, more than half a century later, leading politicians and scientists warn us that climate changes are the greatest threat to the mankind. They claim that the threat is caused by the industrial release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This works like a greenhouse effect that determines the earth’s temperature to rise.

The British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared recently that there was “no bigger long-term question facing the global community” than the threat of a climate change 1). Unfortunately, the focus is misplaced. It is not the atmosphere which determines the fate of the climate. It is the ocean who does it.

7War at sea determined two major climate changes: one in 1918, at the end of World War I, and the other in 1939, at the beginning of World War II. If the oceans, as driving force of the climate, had influenced scientific research since the early days of meteorology, 150 years ago, then it would have been possible to stress that the advent of the two World Wars and the extensive fighting at sea were a real threat for the normal course of the climate.

How could the course of international conflicts have been managed if the world’s leading statesmen of the 20th century had been concerned with the climatic changes due to the impact that a war at sea could have had on the ocean and on the climate? Could World War II have been prevented if global climate change had been as much a concern as it is today? Or would the leaders have tried to persuade the navies at war to leave oceans and seas out of the conflict? Would Hitler have reconsidered his war aims if the United States had warned him of their immediate implication in the war in case his decision had been to launch 1000 naval ships out on sea in an attack that risked generating a substantial climatic shift?

But, during the last 150 years, no one alerted the warring nations that going out on sea to fight a war would have an inevitable impact on the oceans status and, consequently, on the climate. No one sent effective diplomatic notes to Hitler, demanding him to cancel all military activities in the oceans, in August 1939.

The inevitable happened. Within four months after the beginning of WWII, Northern Europe was plunged into the coldest winter in more than 100 years. Since December 1939, Europe endured arctic conditions that had not been experienced since the Little Ice Age, in the 18th/19th century. And neither the scientific community nor the political leaders had any idea about the connection between the war and the arctic temperature conditions.

It is an irony that the deputy and chief of German Armed Forces, Herman Goering , in a speech designed to boost the morale of the German population striving to overcome the unbelievable difficulties of a cold and snowy winter, could get away with the statement he made on the 15th of February 1940:

Nature is still more powerful than man.
I can fight man but I cannot fight nature
when I lack the means to carry out such a battle.
We did not ask for ice, snow and cold –
A higher power sent it to us. 2)

Herman Goering was wrong! Huge naval fleets out on fighting missions can easily turn nature’s wheels. Adolf Hitler and the German Reich were responsible for the sudden transformation of both regional and global climate. While the war continued for 11_five more years and the war at sea became global after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour, in December 1941, Hitler’s actions did not only generate three extremely cold winters in Europe but also initiated four decades of cold that lasted from 1940 until the early 1980’s. All this happened after extensive and devastating naval activities in the Atlantic and Pacific regions.

But this simple fact had not been paid any serious attention. This book focuses on the two wars at sea, from 1914 until 1918 and from 1939 until 1945, when seas and oceans were turned into battlegrounds and huge water areas were turned upside-down by naval vessels and war activities such as shooting, aerial bombing, torpedoing, sea mining, and depth charging of submarines.

The scenario of autumn 1939

On the 1st of September 1939, Germany launched land, air and sea attacks on Poland. Soon, the Nazis deployed 5,000 planes upon Poland. On the 25th of September 1939, 240 German planes bombed Warsaw, dropping 560 tons of bombs (including the first bomb of 1,000 kg). 30 transport aircrafts dropped 70 tons of firebombs. Meanwhile, 1,000 batteries shelled the city day and night. Warsaw burnt for many days. The sky above Central Europe was filled with smoke and dust. Poland surrendered before the end of the month. Total casualties are estimated at 1 million, including 200,000 dead people and 700,000 war prisoners.12

On the 3rd of September, Great Britain and France declared war to Germany. Several hundred-kilometre military defence zone between France and Germany (the Maginot Line and the Westwall) were put into full operation immediately. Two million soldiers faced each other in September 1939. Since October, the number increased to over three million. Attacks and encounters occurred frequently. One of the first attacks during the first war week saw 700 French tanks and planes moving seven miles over the Saarland border, while 300 air planes attacked German positions in an industrial region and ammunition area, some 125 miles further north. Similar encounters occurred frequently, week-by-week, month-by-month, until Germany attacked and occupied the Western Europe countries, in summer 1940.

On the 30th of November 1939, Russian troops invaded Finland with an army of 500,000 men (ca. 30 divisions), 2,000 tanks and 1,000 airplanes, while Finnish forces were weaker. Fighting took place along a 1,000 kilometre frontline, from the Barents Sea to the Gulf of Finland, with few access roads and very low temperatures (-46ºC around the Christmas of 1939), in the permanent darkness at north of the Polar Circle and with only a few hours of daylight in southern Finland.

On the night of 26-27th of December, Anatolia was hit by a major earthquake which caused the death of 30,000 persons and generated a tsunami in the Eastern Black Sea.

In August 1939, many naval vessels had already been sent to distant positions. Baltic Sea, North Sea and Eastern North Atlantic were the preliminary areas for the war activities. After hour zero, many hundred naval vessels were permanently engaged in patrolling, escorting, mine laying, mine sweeping, depth charging of submarines, shelling of coastal batteries, enemy vessels or enemy air planes.

The importance of autumn 1939 for the climate research

The autumn of 1939 has a unique importance for climate research. On the 1st of September 1939, climate statistics was free from 13any “external” influence. The winter of 1938/39 had been the warmest in the past few hundred years. Since the end of the WWI, Europe had become warmer every year. In the 1930’s, no abnormal phenomenon (which could have had an impact on the ‘natural course’ of climate) had been recorded either in Europe or in a wider region. In fact, the period between January and August 1939 had been slightly wetter than the average but, otherwise, thoroughly normal. Things changed only when WWII started. The impact of naval warfare on climate and nature occurred very suddenly. Oceanic and atmospheric matters run according to physical laws, but react to brutal forces. An excellent example is the autumn of 1939, when Northern European waters were suddenly confronted with the action of 1000 naval ships, which came up with a devastating force, powered by newly developed military means, like shells, torpedoes, sea mines, and aerial bombs.

Our focal point

This investigation is not concerned with naval history but with global warming, respectively climate changes. Describing military events in Europe since September 1939 would require any historical writer to make the distinction between activities on land, in the air and at sea. Military aspects interest us only as far as they affect the climate. As this investigation sustains that climate should be defined as the ‘continuation of oceans by other means’ 3) , viz. atmospheric humidity instead of ocean water, a clear distinction can be made.

What happened above and under the sea surface is what interest us: activities like ship propulsion, shelling, mining, bombing, torpedoing, depth charges, ship scuttling and sinking, ship fire and explosion, loss of cargo (oil, chemicals, bulk), etc. Each and every activity that resulted in the ‘churning and turning’ of the seawater is very significant for the warming or cooling of air temperature. If the status of the ocean changes, a corresponding change of the atmospheric conditions is inevitable.

The interconnection is obvious. After only 100 days of war, Northern Europe tumbled straight into severe Little Ice Age conditions, comparable only to those from more than 100 years ago. First, let’s see what it meant to Northern Europe to be thrown back in the Little Ice Age and focus on the causes of the arctic war winter of 1939/40.

 1)  www.bbc.co.uk/climate/policies/uk_policy.shtml Topic: Climate Change from the BBC Weather Centre/ Policies/ UK Policy; “PM Tony Blair described climate change as ‘the most important environmental issue facing the world today’”.
Hermann Goering was a celebrated pilot which fought on an air fighter in WWI. He joined the Nazi movement in 1923 and became head of Germany’s armed forces in 1938. The following year, he officially became Hitler’s deputy and legal heir. After WWII started, Goering was named in charge of the Luftwaffe. In 1946, he was found guilty of war crime during the War Crimes Trail at Nuremberg.
2) Herman Goering in a speech in Berlin on the 15th of February 1940; reported by The New York Times, the 16th of February 1940.
3) Arnd Bernaerts, Letter to Editor, NATURE, Vol.360, the 26th of November 1992, p. 292;
SIR – The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and the earlier struggle for a Convention on Climate Change may serve as a reminder that the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea has its tenth anniversary on 10 December. It is not only one of the most comprehensive and strongest international treaties ever negotiated but the best possible legal means to protect the global climate. But sadly, there has been little interest in using it for this purpose. For too long, climate has been defined as the average weather and Rio was not able to define it at all. Instead, the climate Change Convention uses the term ‘climate system’, defining it as “the totality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere and their interactions”. All that this boils down to is ‘the interactions of the natural system’. What is the point of a legal term if it explains nothing? For decades, the real question has been who is responsible for the climate. Climate should have been defined as ‘the continuation of the oceans by other means’. Thus, the 1982 Convention could long since have been used to protect the climate. After all, it is the most powerful tool with which to force politicians and the community of states into actions.

ATTENTION: The following text is the previous online presentation – up-loaded in 2007 – and is not necessarily complete any longer!
How to change Climate

Do you want to have a freezing winter? Start a war at sea! Do you want to change global climate? Start a global naval war! Get the PDF!

One cold wave after the other took hold of Northern Europe in what was called an arctic climate, since mid-December 1939. Nothing similar has happened in more than 100 years. Only three months earlier, 15_orig_imagemore than 1000 naval vessels went out on sea and turned the waters of the North-and Baltic Sea upside-down. Day and night, week after week, many thousands of ships criss-crossed these seas, millions of “sea fountains” sprang up, being caused by shells, bombs, depth charges, sea mines, torpedoes. Ships and airplanes sank to the sea bottom with hundreds.

The political factor Get the PDF!

If war at sea changes the climate, such an event would have tremendous political implications. If there are significant political implications in 2006, there must have been in 1939 too, but unfortunately no one knew what was at stake at that time.

The scenario of autumn 1939 Get the PDF!

On the 1st of September 1939, Germany launched land, air and sea attacks on Poland. Soon, the Nazis deployed 5,000 planes upon Poland. On the 25th of September 1939, 240 German planes bombed Warsaw, dropping 560 tons of bombs (including the first bomb of 1,000 kg). 30 transport aircrafts dropped 70 tons of firebombs.

The importance of autumn 1939 for the climate research Get the PDF!

The autumn of 1939 has a unique importance for climate research. On the 1st of September 1939, climate statistics was free from any “external” influence. The winter of 1938/39 had been the warmest in the past few hundred years. Since the end of the WWI, Europe had become warmer every year.

Our focal point Get the PDF!

This investigation is not concerned with naval history but with global warming, respectively climate changes. Describing military events in Europe since September 1939 would require any historical writer to make the distinction between activities on land, in the air and at sea. Military aspects interest us only as far as they affect the climate.