‘Polar Blast’ Hits Australia; Solar Hush; + Avoiding The Stupidity Of Fear-Infected Crowds

‘Polar Blast’ Hits Australia

Another polar air mass is about to sweep up from the Southern Ocean and engulf much of Australia’s southeast.

Following what was a frosty August 17, during which a host of SE locales posted their lowest temperatures in years, the mercury will crash even harder over this coming weekend. Low readings have also already impacted ‘nearby’ New Caledonia, with Ile Mare posting a very chilly 5.7C (42.3F) on Thursday.

A strong cold front will spread over NSW Friday into Saturday, bringing snow, heavy at times, to the ranges. Accumulations down to 800m (2,600ft) are expected in southern and central NSW, while the line will hold at about 900m (2,900ft) in the state’s north.

Parts of Tasmania and Victoria will also be affected by blast as a record cold Antarctica unleashes fiercely frigid pockets of polar air.

Looking further ahead–to next weekend–something even colder and widespread looks to be barreling down the pike:

GFS 2m Temperature Anomalies (C) Aug 25 – 28 [tropicaltidbits.com].

Solar Hush

The Sun is relatively quiet for the fifth day in a row, despite the presence of multiple large sunspot groups.

NOAA forecasters agree, reporting that “solar activity was low”, though the agency added that there remains a 15% chance of an M-class solar flare.

All of these sunspots have stable magnetic fields that pose little threat for strong solar flares [SDO/HMI]

Avoiding The Stupidity Of Fear-Infected Crowds

In 1572, the burnings began…

Authorities in the small settlement of St Maximin, located in present-day Germany, charged a woman named Eva with witchcraft. Eva confessed under torture to using witchcraft to kill a child; she, along with two other women whom she implicated, were burned at the stake.

Things went down hill from there very quickly. By the mid-1590s, the settlement had burned 500 people as witches–an astonishing feat for a place that only had 2,200 residents to begin with.

Why is it that early modern Europe had such a fervor for witch hunting?

Between 1400 to 1782–when Switzerland tried and executed Europe’s last supposed witch, between 40,000 and 60,000 people were put to death for witchcraft, according to historical consensus. The epicentre of the witch hunts was Europe’s German-speaking heartland, an area that today makes up Germany, Switzerland, and north-eastern France.

The stock answer is that the killings were a response to the privations caused by the Grand Solar Minimum. Across Europe, weather suddenly got wetter and colder–a phenomenon now known as the Little Ice Age. Towns and villages were pelted with freak frosts, floods, hailstorms, and plagues of mice and caterpillars.

Witch hunts tended to correspond with these ecological disasters and crop failures, along with the accompanying problems of famine, inflation, and disease — when the going got tough, witches made for a convenient scapegoat.

A recent economic study, however, published in the The Economic Journal of the Royal Economic Society, proposes a different explanation for the witch hunts, one that can help us understand the way fear spreads through a society, today…

Religious Corporatism

This alternative theory comes down to market competitionbetween churches.

In Europe, Protestantism emerged as the first truly viable challenger to the Catholic church’s hold on the population. The study views the Catholic and Protestant churches as competing firms, each in the business of supplying a valuable service: Salvation.

As competition heated up, churches expanded beyond the standard spiritual remit and began focusing on salvation here on earth. Among both Catholics and Protestants, witch-hunting became a crucial service for attracting and appeasing the masses by demonstrating their Satan-fighting prowess.

“Similar to how contemporary Republican and Democrat candidates focus campaign activity in political battlegrounds during elections to attract the loyalty of undecided voters, historical Catholic and Protestant officials focused witch-trial activity in confessional battlegrounds during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation to attract the loyalty of undecided Christians,” write the study’s authors, Peter T. Leeson, an economist at George Mason University, and Jacob W. Russ, an economist at Bloom Intelligence, a big-data analysis firm.

When it comes to winning people to your side, after all, there’s no better method than stoking fears about an outside threat–fabricated if need be–and then assuring them that you, and you alone, offer the best protection.

The dots to today are clear: “The world is burning, so says The Science”, so, step 1) ‘ostracize all deniers!’, 2) ‘forgo cheap and reliable energy!’, 3) ‘have fewer children, or better yet, none!’, and, 4) –most tellingly– ‘pay your carbon tax and all will be well!’

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