Time of Christ legal documents show women’s rights and place in society

By: Philip Esler

Everyone has heard of the ancient Jewish religious scrolls discovered at Qumran by the Dead Sea in the middle of the 20th century. But who is aware that nearly 100 legal papyri have been found in the same region, or that they allow unparalleled access to the ancient social world of Judea and Nabatea in the period 100 BCE to 200 CE?


Then, as now, you went to a lawyer (‘scribe’ to use their term) when you had a big problem or a big opportunity in your life. Legal papyri concern issues that mattered. And then, as now, it was in the parties’ interest to make sure that they stated they facts accurately; with these documents there are no issues of literary genre or religious belief to obscure our interpretation of the data. Yet the scholarship these papyri has attracted so far focuses almost entirely on their legal dimensions.

In the early 1950s members of the Ta’amireh bedouin tribe began turning up at the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem to sell legal papyri, some of them in Nabatean Aramaic. This prompted expeditions to find the source or sources of these documents.

There was early success by a team at Wadi Murabba‘at in 1952. But in March 1961 a member of a team led by Yigael Yadin exploring a cave high in a cliff face in Wadi Hever hit the jackpot. A stone rocking under his foot disclosed the cunningly concealed hiding place in which a Jewish woman Babatha, daughter of Shim‘on, had hidden some of her personal possessions and a leather sachel containing her archive of 35 legal papyri. She had been hiding in the cave with other Jewish fugitives from the Romans at the end of the Bar Kokha revolt from 132-135 CE.

The Romans, who had built a camp on the plateau directly above the cave, must have captured Babatha and her companions and either killed or enslaved them. Other objects were found in the cave, including a cache of beautiful bronze vessels and letters from Bar Kokhba himself, for which reason it is called ‘the Cave of the Letters.

These 35 papyri tell us so much about Babatha and her family by birth and marriage that we now know more about her than any other Jewish woman from antiquity. The Greek papyri from the archive were published in 1989 and those written in Jewish or Nabatean Aramaic in 2002.

The oldest four of the papyri (P. Yadin 1 from 94 CE and P. Yadin 2, 3, and 4 from 99 CE) are written in Nabatean Aramaic, the first by one scribe and the other three by his brother. It has long been recognised that P. Yadin 2 and 3 relate to the sale of a date-palm orchard in the Nabatean town of Maoza, on the southern shore of the Dead Sea in 99 CE by its owner, the Nabatean woman ’Abi-‘adan. She first sold the orchard to one Archelaus, a Nabatean strategos, virtually a provincial governor, and then, just one month later she sold an enlarged version to Babatha’s father, Shim‘on. Bringing P. Yadin 1 and 4 into the picture allows the intriguing story of the purchase to be told.

Shim‘on must have given the orchard to Babatha later (perhaps on the occasion of her marriage) because she registered it among her property in the Roman census in 127 CE of what had then become (since 106 CE) the province of Arabia. Her registration document (P. Yadin 16) is very well preserved.

These documents proffer pervasive evidence for the importance of date cultivation in the local economy. Extensive irrigation systems, well within the capacities of Nabatean hydraulic engineering, were required to be installed and maintained to keep the thirsty date-palms watered. Dates kept well, had a high food value (then as now being used by nomads moving across the desert) and attracted a good price. There was also date cultivation at En-Gedi, on the western side of the Dead Sea, again, in irrigated fields. Many other papyri from the region are agricultural in nature, especially in recording sales or leases of farm-land.

Yet date cultivation was clearly a precarious business. Large fortunes could be won by engaging in it, but so too could they be lost. Nabatean men seem regularly to have borrowed from their wives to finance their involvement in this form of agriculture. Such loans were secured against the husbands’ property and the deeds gave wives ample power to foreclose if necessary. After her second husband died owing her a large sum of money, Babatha seized dates from orchards of his and was then sued by the children of his first marriage to stop her. Her wedding contract with her second husband, which he himself drafted, is P. Yadin 10.

Another aspect of the social and economic unit that was Maoza in 99 CE illuminated by these four papyri is the good relationship existing between Shim‘on and his Nabatean neighbours. He is indeed the only Jew mentioned among a large crowd of Nabateans who were parties to the deeds, relatives of those parties, witnesses and scribes. Yet we see him not only entering into a transaction with a Nabatean woman, without requiring any Jewish witnesses, but also securing help in his acquisition from a Nabatean strategos no less. Archaeological evidence suggests that people living in this region at the end of first century CE wore the same clothes and were buried in the same way. There was a shared culture even if Jewish and Nabatean Aramaic were somewhat different, with the latter having a heavy infusion of Arabic words.

When relations between various ethnic and religious groups in this region are so fraught today, it is salutary to consider another historical setting, such as Maoza in 99 CE, when relationships across the two main ethnic groups were demonstrably positive.

Philip Esler is the Portland Chair of New Testament Studies, University of Gloucestershire. This piece appeared originally at the OUPBlog of the Oxford University Press and is reproduced with permission.

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20 New Science Papers Find Climate is Driven by Solar Changes


  • 20 New Science Papers Find Climate is Driven by Solar Changes


20 New Science Papers Find Climate is Driven by Solar Changes

Written by Kenneth Richard

Earlier this month, the first installment in the accumulating list of hundreds of new peer-reviewed scientific papers supporting a skeptical position on climate change alarm was made available. Included on the list were 38 papers linking climate changes to solar forcing: 38 Sun-Climate Scientific Papers, January-March 2017

Just in the last few weeks alone, another 20 scientific papers were identified which link solar variations to climate changes, which means 58 papers have already been published in 2017.

20 New Sun-Climate Papers

High Solar Activity (Warming), High Crop Yields – Low Solar Activity (Cooling), Low Crop Yields

  1. Huhtamaa and Helama, 2017

“Throughout the written history of Finland, delayed onset of summer and night frost have been named as the main reasons for crop failure and famine. … Our reconstruction suggests that in the 8th–10th centuries AD, when continuous crop cultivation was established in Finland, the risk of temperature-driven crop failure was notably lower and the crops were generally higher than during the historical period (c. 13th century ad onwards). The continuous period of high crop yields coincides with an episode of multi-centennial summer season warmth, associated with the MCA [Medieval Climate Anomaly] in the region and around north-west Europe (Goosse et al., 2012; Luoto and Helama, 2010; Ogilvie et al., 2000; Sundqvist et al., 2010). The warm climatic regime of the MCA was interrupted by a period of distinctly cold winter and summer temperatures c. ad 1110– 1150 (Helama et al., 2009b; Linderholm et al., 2015; Tiljander et al., 2003). Also on the eastern side of the study area, in North-West Russia, c. ad 950–1100 was marked by a warmer climate and intensive agricultural expansion to the north (Klimenko, 2016).”

“The rapid mid-15th century cooling, which followed a major atmospheric circulation change over the North Atlantic (Dawson et al., 2007; Meeker and Mayewski, 2002) and coincided with the culmination of the Spörer solar minimum (Miyahara et al., 2006), has been evidenced in various summer and winter season reconstructions of the region (Haltia-Hovi et al., 2007; Helama et al., 2009b; Klimenko and Solomina, 2010; Luoto and Helama, 2010; Zhang et al., 2015).”

“The culmination of the ‘LIA’ [Little Ice Age] in Finland has been commonly dated to the late 17th and early 18th centuries ad (Luoto, 2013; Luoto and Helama, 2010; Tiljander et al., 2003), which is synchronous with the onset of the phase of the lowest yield ratios in our reconstruction. The Maunder solar minima (c. 1645–1715) and several volcanic eruptions preceded the culmination (Shindell et al., 2003).”

Russell et al., 2010 (Solar Activity Graph)

Decadal Variations In Ozone, ENSO, NAO, Mean Sea Level, And Climate ‘Excited By Solar Activity’

2. Chapanov et al., 2017



“But recently, another mechanism of climate variations, due to cosmic rays was proposed (Kilifarska and Haight, 2005; Kilifarska, 2008, 2011; Velinov et al., 2005). According to the new models, the cosmic rays produce a ionization of the atmosphere, changes of atmosphere conductivity, lightning, and an increase of ozone concentration. The ozone plays significant role in climate variations, so the new models of cosmic ray influences on Earth atmosphere may explain the observed correlation between cosmic rays and climate variations.”

“The shape of solar cycles is rather different from sinusoidal form, so they affect geosystems by many short-term harmonics. A possible solar origin of decadal variations of Earth rotation, mean sea level and climate indices is investigated by the harmonics of Jose, de Vries and Suess cycles with centennial periods of 178.7, 208 and 231 years. The common decadal cycles of solar-terrestrial influences are investigated by long time series of Length of Day (LOD), Mean Sea Level (MSL) variations at Stockholm, ElNiño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), temperature and precipitation over Eastern Europe, Total Solar Irradiance (TSI), Wolf’s Numbers Wn and North-South solar asymmetry. A good agreement exists between the decadal cycles of LOD [length of day], MSL [mean sea level], climate and solar indices whose periods are between 12-13, 14-16, 16-18 and 28-33 years.”

“The Total Solar Irradiance (TSI), Wolf’s Numbers (Wn) and North-South (N-S) solar asymmetry expose different spectral peaks, amplitude modulation and phases from these bands. These solar time series represent thermal heating over the Earth, solar wind (space weather) and solar magnetic field variations. The decadal cycles of N-S [North-South] solar asymmetry strongly affect corresponding cycles of El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO).”

3. Helama et al., 2017 (full)

“Solar proxy data (Steinhilber et al., 2009) consistently illustrate low activity between AD 400 and 700, with a notable seventh-century solar minimum, the millennial-scale solar changes culminating over these centuries and thus during the DACP [Dark Ages Cold Period] (Scafetta, 2012).  Interestingly, there is multiple proxy evidence showing that reduced solar activity may modulate the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) towards its negative phase (Gray et al., 2010). Since the NAO is a leading pattern of climate variability in the global atmosphere, and the negative NAO phase is generally associated with cooler temperatures particularly over western Europe and eastern North-America for both the winter (Wanner et al., 2001; Hurrell and Deser, 2010) and summer seasons (Folland et al., 2009), a prolonged negative NAO phase could thus result in cold temperatures at least over some parts of the Northern Hemisphere continents. … Recently, a collection of multi-proxy evidence illustrated a cooling phase around the Northern Hemisphere which was tree-ring dated to AD 536-660 and termed the Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA) (Büntgen et al., 2016). This event was shown to follow a multitude of large unknown volcanic eruptions in AD 536, 540 and 547, for which evidence was derived from bipolar ice-core timescales and sulphur records (Sigl et al., 2015). The cooling, having once initiated from volcanic aerosol forcing (Larsen et al. 2008), may have been sustained over extended intervals possibly because of the coinciding solar minimum and  through sea-ice/ocean feedback mechanisms (Büntgen et al., 2016; Matskovsky and Helama, 2016), analogous to findings from equivalent proxy data (Gennaretti et al., 2014) and transient climate model simulations(Miller et al., 2012) during the LIA.

4. Yukimoto et al., 2017

“A delayed response of the winter North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) to the 11-year solar cycle has been observed and modeled in recent studies. The result of this study supports a previous hypothesis that suggests that the 11-year solar cycle signals on the Earth’s surface are produced through a downward penetration of the changes in the stratospheric circulation. … The importance of the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) for the European weather and climate conditions has been known for a long time (Walker and Bliss 1932; van Loon and Rogers 1978; Hurrell et al. 2003). NAO is the dominant intrinsic mode of atmospheric variability over the Atlantic sector (Hurrell and Deser 2009). … The present result confirms the previous hypothesis reported by Kodera et al. (2016), which stated that the major solar influence on the Earth’s surface can be produced through changes in stratospheric circulation, and the spatial structure of the solar signal at the Earth’s surface is largely conditioned by atmosphere’s interaction with the ocean.”

5. Wang et al., 2017

“The identification of causal effects is a fundamental problem in climate change research. Here, a new perspective on climate change causality is presented using the central England temperature (CET) dataset, the longest instrumental temperature record, and a combination of slow feature analysis and wavelet analysis. The driving forces of climate change were investigated and the results showed two independent degrees of freedom —a 3.36-year cycle and a 22.6-year cycle, which seem to be connected to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation cycle and the Hale sunspot cycle, respectively.”

’11-Year Solar Cycle…Influences [Surface] Weather And Climate’

6. Gray et al., 2017

“There is growing evidence that variability associated with the 11-year solar cycle has an impact at the Earth’s surface and influences its weather and climate. Although the direct response to the Sun’s variability is extremely small, a number of different mechanisms have been suggested that could amplify the signal, resulting in regional signals that are much larger than expected. In this paper the observed solar cycle signal at the Earth’s surface is described, together with proposed mechanisms that involve modulation via the total incoming solar irradiance and via modulation of the ultra-violet part of the solarspectrum that influences ozone production in the stratosphere.”

7. Hood, 2017

QBO/Solar Modulation of the Boreal Winter Madden-Julian Oscillation … “The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), also known as the 30-60 day oscillation, is the strongest of the intraseasonal climate oscillations in the tropics and has significant derivative effects on extratropical circulation and intraseasonal climate. It has recently been shown that the stratospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) modulates the amplitude of the boreal winter MJO such that MJO amplitudes are larger on average during the easterly phase (QBOE) than during the westerly phase (QBOW). A major possible mechanism is the decrease in static stability in the lowermost stratosphere under QBOE conditions resulting from relative upwelling associated with the QBO induced meridional circulation. Here, evidence is presented that tropical upwelling changes related to the 11-year solar cycle also modulate the boreal winter MJO. Based on 37.3 years of MJO amplitude data, the largest amplitudes and occurrence rates, and the weakest static stabilities in the tropical lower stratosphere, occur during the QBOE phase under solar minimum (SMIN) conditions while the smallest amplitudes and strongest static stabilities occur during the QBOW phase under solar maximum (SMAX) conditions. Conversely, when the QBO and solar forcings are opposed (QBOW/SMIN and QBOE/SMAX), the difference in occurrence rates becomes statistically insignificant.”

8. Gan et al., 2017

Temperature responses to the 11-year solar cycle in the mesosphere from the 31-year (1979-2010) … “Atmospheric response to the solar cycle (SC) here refers to atmospheric variability induced by the 11-year solar activity cycle. The SC [solar cycle] response originates mainly from large (4-8%) solar UV spectral irradiance change (in the range of 200-250 nm) from solar minimum to maximum condition, while the total solar flux stays nearly constant (0.1%) [Donnelly, 1991; Lean et al., 1997; Woods and Rottman, 1997; Beig et al., 2008; Gary et al., 2010]. The variability of the solar UV spectral irradiance affects the thermal structure of the atmosphere by directly changing the total energy deposited and indirectly modifying the photochemistry and dynamics of the atmosphere. In addition to the equatorial Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) [Baldwin et al., 2011] and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) [Li et al., 2013], the 11-year SC is also a significant source to the inter-annual variability in the mesosphere and lower (MLT) region.”

Periods Of Low Solar Activity Explain Little Ice Age Cooling Trends

9. Pandey and Dubey, 2017

“The Maunder minimum (1645-1715) refers to a period when very few sunspots were observed. During this period, the Earth climate was cooler than normal. This period mimics the solar cycle climate change connections. The particles and electromagnetic radiations flowing from solar activity outbursts are important for long-term climate variations. There is an abrupt and drastic cooling in the climate can be possible in near future due to large scale melting of global ice by global warming, and prolonged sunspot minima. There is a close correlation between variations in the 11-year sunspot cycle and Earth’s climate. Solar activity varies on shorter-time scales, including the 11- year sunspot cycle and longer-term as Milankovitch cycle.”


10. Williams et al., 2017

“Reconstructed SSTs significantly warmed 1.1 ± 0.30°C … from 1660s to 1800 (rate of change: 0.008 ± 0.002°C/year), followed by a significant cooling of 0.8 ± 0.04°C …  until 1840 (rate of change: 0.02 ± 0.001°C/year), then a significant warming of 0.8 ± 0.16°C from 1860 until the end of reconstruction in 2007 (rate of change: 0.005 ± 0.001°C/year).” [Sea surface temperatures warmed faster from 1660s-1800 than they did from 1860-2007.]

“In fact, the SST reconstruction significantly co-varied with a reconstruction of solar irradiance [Lean, 2000] on the 11-year periodicity only from ~1745 to 1825. In addition, the reconstructed SSTs were cool during the period of lower than usual solar irradiance called the Maunder minimum (1645–1715) but then warmed and cooled during the Dalton minimum (1795–1830), a second period of reduced solar irradiance. … The Dalton solar minimum and increased volcanic activity in the early 1800s could explain the decreasing SSTs from 1800 to 1850 …  [T]hese data suggest a complex combination of solar irradiance, volcanic activity, internal ocean dynamics and external anthropogenic forcing explain the variability in Aleutian SSTs for the past 342 years.”

11. Didkovsky et al., 2017

“Radiative forcing of the Earth’s atmosphere plays a significant role in its thermal and chemical balance (Haigh, 1994; Haigh et al., 2010). Effects of heating and cooling are influenced by long-term solar-cycle changes. One example of such change compiled from sources that show sensitivity to the changes of solar activity (Hoyt and Schatten, 1998) is the Maunder Minimum of 1645 to about 1715 (Maunder, 1890). These observations demonstrate the effects of solar-activity changes during the Maunder Minimum for which low to near-zero sunspot numbers persisted for about six solar cycles (SC) with a SC-averaged period (for SC 1 to 22) of 11 years (Hathaway, 2010).”

12. Nan et al., 2017

“Furthermore, our temperature records, within age uncertainty, coincides with the changes of the solar irradiance changes, suggesting a possible link between solar forcing and climate variability. … The relationship between the solar irradiance and climate change has been demonstrated by lots of studies (He et al., 2013; Kroonenberg et al., 2007; Sagawa et al., 2014; Soon et al., 2014). It was suggested that the solar activity was a primary driving force of climatic variations in the Holocene (Bond et al., 2001; Wang et al., 2005). Small solar perturbations can be magnified by different feedback mechanisms and may ultimately lead to climatic oscillations on several time scales, such as annual to decadal and/or centennial scales, as well as millennial scales (Haigh, 1996; Bond et al., 2001).”

‘Marked Association Of Solar Activity With Weather And Climate Change’

13. Xiao et al., 2017

“Solar wind and electric-microphysical process is the key mechanism that affects climate … We investigated the influencing mechanism of high-energetic particle precipitation modulated by solar wind on the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). On a day-to-day time scale, Zhou, Tinsley, and Huang (2014) and Huang et al. (2013) found that the minima in AO and NAO indices only lagged 0~2 days of the solar wind speed (SWS) minima during years of high stratospheric aerosol loading, which suggests a much faster mechanism of solar influence on the atmospheric system compared to the ozone destruction process. From the perspective of year-to-year variation, Xiao and Li (2016) and Zhou et al. (2016) showed a robust relationship between SWS [solar wind speed] and NAO in boreal winter. These aforementioned studies indicate that the wintertime Iceland Low in the North Atlantic was very sensitive to solar wind variations and played an important role in the process of solar wind and electric-microphysical effects on climate. Moreover, under the condition of a weak electric field, we have demonstrated the marked impact of cloud droplet electricity on the collision efficiency of cloud condensation nuclei. This, in turn, suggests that the collision in a cloud microphysics process constitutes the core link between atmospheric electricity and climate (Tinsley and Leddon 2013; Tinsley and Zhou 2013, 2014). Furthermore, Tinsley and Zhou (2015) improved the collision and parameterization scheme that varied with electric quantity in a cloud microphysics process and quantitatively evaluated the effects of high-energetic particle flux on cloud charge. This achievement not only supports the marked association of solar activity with weather and climate change on various time scales, but also but also avails the quantitative accession of solar impacts on climate. It is worth noting that the successful establishment development of a theoretical model regarding of the influencing process of solar energetic particles on the atmosphere improves the development of global climate models.”

Hurricane Frequency ‘Is Synchronous With The Solar Irradiance’

14. Vyklyuk et al., 2017

“Hurricane genesis modelling based on the relationship between solar activity and hurricanes … There are a number of works concerning the Sun–Earth connections and their influence on atmospheric motions. There are a number of observations which show that within a few days after energetic solar eruptions (flares, coronal mass ejections and eruptive prominences), there are diverse meteorological responses of considerable strength (Gomes et al. 2012). … Conclusion: [T]here are several indications which are in favor that the beginning of violent cyclonic motions in Earth’s atmosphere may be caused by charged particles from the solar wind.”

15. Katsuki et al., 2017

“Typhoon frequency in East Asia is synchronous with the solar irradiance. … Several studies documented typhoon pattern changes in response to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). … The fluctuation of the solar activity plays a key role in regulating the westerly jet movement. The multi-centennial scale of the typhoon frequency in mid-latitude East Asia is therefore caused by changes in the solar activity and ENSO conditions.”

‘Climate…Follows Solar Activity Fluctuations On Multidecadal To Centennial Time Scales’

16. Moreno et al., 2017

“Understanding the Sun-Earth’s climate coupling system is both an essential and an urgent issue, with great progress achieved over the last decades (e.g., Haigh, 2007; Soon et al., 2014 for a review). Recently, Brugnara et al. (2013) referred that the Euro–Atlantic sector, in which Portugal is located, seems to be a region with a particularly strong solar influence on the troposphere, finding a significant change in the mean late winter circulation over Europe, which culminates in detectable impacts on the near-surface climate. Jiang et al. (2015) suggested that (i) climate in the northern North Atlantic regions follows SA [solar activity] fluctuations on multidecadal to centennial time scales, and (ii) it is more susceptible to the influence of those fluctuations throughout cool periods with, for instance, less vigorous ocean circulation. Similar results were found by Gómez-Navarro et al. (2012) in the context of climate simulations for the second millennium over the Iberian Peninsula, recognizing that temperature and precipitation variability is significantly affected at centennial time scales by variations in the SA [solar activity].”

“Grand Minima and Dalton-type Minimum scenarios are broadly characterized by (i) lower TSI (i.e., lower available PAR) (Lean, 1991, and references therein), (ii) development of cloudiness (e.g., Usoskin and Kovaltsov, 2008), and (iii) decreased global/regional air surface temperatures (e.g., Neukom et al., 2014) in tandem with greater regional precipitation variability.”

“The connections between solar phenomena and the lower atmosphere processes can be explained by two kind of mechanisms: (i) “top-to-down”, influencing the pole-to-equator temperature gradient and exerting an impact on the modulation of the atmospheric circulation cells, weakening or strengthening the zonal winds, and (ii) “bottom-to up” that directly impact on the radiation fluxes, energy balance and temperatures on the ground. Both finally impact the atmospheric circulation modes responsible for the global/regional precipitation and temperature patterns (e.g., Gray et al., 2010; Martin-Puertas et al., 2012; Thiéblemont et al., 2015).”

17. Lihua, 2017

“The modulation action from solar activity plays an important role in the temperature change, and there is a possible association existing in the global land-ocean temperature and solar activity on decade time scales. … About 11-year period, a remarkable oscillation of solar activity, continually exists in wavelet transform of solar variation. According to the cross wavelet transform, solar activity influences global land-ocean temperature change on ~11-year time scales during 1935-1995 with above the 5 % significance level.”

‘A Large Proportion Of [Recent] Climate Variations…Explained By TSI And Cosmic Rays’

18. Utomo, 2017

“A similar result was also found for the relationship between solar activity and cosmic ray flux with a negative correlation, i.e. 0.69/year. When solar activities decrease, the clouds cover rate increase due-0.61/month and – to secondary ions produced by cosmic rays. The increase in the cloud cover rate causes the decrease in solar constant value and solar radiation on the earth’s surface [cooling]. … The increase in the formation rate of cloud would affect the decrease in the intensity of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. The relationship between cosmic rays and solar constant is an “opposite” relationship because of the negative correlation type (r < 0). The phenomenon of “opposite” is in a good agreement with the result by Svensmark (1997) who found a correlation between temperature and global cloud coverage with the cosmic rays. … [T]he climate also depends on variations in the flux of solar energy received by the earth’s surface. Variation in the solar energy flux is caused by variations in solar activity cycle. Thus the climate is a manifestation of how solar radiation is absorbed, redistributed by the atmosphere, land and oceans, and ultimately radiated back into space. Every variation of solar energy received at the earth’s surface and reradiated by the earth into space will have a direct impact on climate change on Earth.”

19. Biktash, 2017

“The effects of total solar irradiance (TSI) and volcanic activity on long-term global temperature variations during solar cycles 19–23 [1954-2008] were studied. It was shown that a large proportion of climate variations can be explained by the mechanism of action of TSI [total solar irradiance] and cosmic rays (CRs) on the state of the lower atmosphere and other meteorological parameters. … Recent studies by Pudovkin and Raspopov, Tinsley, and Swensmark have shown that the Earth’s cloud coverage is strongly influenced by cosmic ray intensity. Conditions in interplanetary space, which can influence GCRs and climate change, have been studied in numerous works. As has been demonstrated by Biktash, the long-term CR count rate and global temperature variations in 20–23 solar cycles are modulated by solar activity and by the IMF (interplanetary magnetic field). A possible geophysical factor which is able to affect the influence of solar activity on the Earth’s climate is volcanism. The effects of volcanism can lead to serious consequences in the atmosphere and the climate.”

+2 W m-2 Per Decade Surface Solar Radiation Forcing From 1983-2013

20. Alexandri et al., 2017

“In this work, the spatiotemporal variability of surface solar radiation (SSR) is examined over the Eastern Mediterranean region for a 31-year period (1983–2013). … The satellite-based data from CERES (Cloud and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System), GEWEX (Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment) and ISCCP (International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project) underestimate SSR while the reanalysis data from the ERA-Interim overestimate SSR compared to CM SAF SARAH. Using a radiative transfer model and a set of ancillary data, these biases are attributed to the atmospheric parameters that drive the transmission of solar radiation in the atmosphere, namely, clouds, aerosols and water vapor [CO2 not mentioned].. … The CM SAF SARAH SSR trend was found to be positive (brightening) and statistically significant at the 95% confidence level (0.2 ± 0.05 W/m2/year [

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Farah Bahgat | 29 April 2017

Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church signed a declaration on Friday during the former’s visit to Egypt, agreeing that rebaptism should not be held for Christians wishing to convert from one church to the other.

The declaration, published by the Vatican, stated, “today we, Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II, in order to please the heart of Lord Jesus, as well as that of our sons and daughters in faith, mutually declare that we, with one mind and heart, will seek sincerely not to repeat the baptism that has been administered in either of our Churches for any person who wishes to join the other. This we confess in obedience to the Holy Scriptures and the faith of the three Ecumenical Councils assembled in Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus.”

Ishak Ibrahim, researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), explained that rebaptism had been one of the main doctrinal differences throughout the past 15 centuries, in which churches did not acknowledge one another.

“Baptism is considered one of the seven sacred sacraments of Christianity; it symbolises how a person is reborn when joining Christianity,” Ibrahim clarified, adding that Christians went through baptism only once in their life during their early childhood, hence, when churches did not acknowledge the baptism of one another, a person had to go through rebaptism if they wanted to transfer from the Catholic Church to the Orthodox or vice versa.

“The declaration’s importance lies in its symbolism and the message within, which shows that churches are able to coexist,” he added. “I believe that the majority of Christians will not oppose the declaration. Of course there will be opposition, but I don’t think it will result in any severe consequences.”

Researcher Marianne Sedhom from the Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies described the consequences of the declaration as “merely theological,” explaining that it would have minimal impact on citizens but rather unified churches.

Friday’s agreement will end the previous standards that were practiced under late Pope Shenouda III, who asserted that one had to undergo rebaptism if one was not baptised in an Orthodox Church, according to state-owned newspaper Al Ahram.

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What? Petrol pumps in eight states to be shut on Sundays from May 14. Ouch!

Beginning May 14, fuel outlets in eight states & UTs will remain shut every Sunday on account of PM Modi’s call to conserve oil, a fuel pump owners’ agency said on Tuesday. The states/UTs are TN, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry, Andhra, Telangana, Maharashtra and Haryana.

PTI | Updated: Apr 19, 2017, 01.54 AM IST

  • The states/UTs are TN, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry, Andhra, Telangana, Maharashtra and Haryana
  • It was during a recent episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’ that the PM issued a call to conserve oil to save the environment

The consortium of Indian petroleum dealers said the decision was made in view of the PM's call during his recent 'Mann ki baat' programme to conserve oil.The consortium of Indian petroleum dealers said the decision was made in view of the PM’s call during his rece… Read More

CHENNAI: Beginning May 14, fuel outlets in eight states will be shut every Sunday following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to conserve oil, a fuel pump owners’ body said here today.

“We had planned to shut our outlets on Sundays a few years back. But oil marketing companies had then requested us to reconsider our decision. Now we have decided to shut the outlets on Sundays,” said Suresh Kumar, an executive committee member of the consortium of Indian petroleum dealers.

Top Comment

Wonder who comes up with such moronic ideas. India will remain forever a “developing nation.
He said the association’s decision was made in view of the Prime Minister’s call during his recent ‘Mann ki baat’ programme to conserve oil to save the environment.Kumar, also the vice-president of Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers Association, said nearly 20,000 outlets in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Haryana would be shut for 24 hours on Sundays, starting May 14.

“In Tamil Nadu, we expect a business loss of Rs 150 crore if we do not operate on a Sunday. But we have been seeing a decline in sales on Sundays by upto 40 per cent,” he said.Asked if the association’s decision was supported by the OMCs, he said, “We will communicate our decision to them shortly.”

Kumar said the fuel outlets which normally have about 15 staff each would have one staff member on the holidays to provide fuel if there was an emergency situation.On the issue of OMCs hiking the margins to petroleum outlets, he said the association was discussing it and would soon make an announcement in this regard.”That struggle is going on. We are meeting our association members shortly. We will announce our decision soon,” he said.

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Pope approves provisions to recognize marriages of SSPX faithful

| Junno Arocho Esteves | April 5, 2017 |

Continuing initiatives aimed at a reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, Pope Francis has made it possible for bishops to ensure the validity of marriages celebrated in the traditionalist communities.

A letter published by the Vatican April 4 said the pope will allow Catholic bishops to appoint priests to assist at SSPX marriages and formally receive the consent of the couples. The nuptial Mass then would be celebrated by the SSPX priest.

In addition, Pope Francis gave bishops the option of granting an SSPX priest the necessary faculties to officiate validly over the marriage rite “if there are no priests in the diocese” available to do so.

The provisions are meant to ensure the validity of the sacrament and “allay any concerns on the part of the faithful,” said the letter published by the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” which is responsible for the Vatican’s ongoing talks with the Society of St. Pius X.

The commission is led by German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who signed the letter March 27.

For decades, the Vatican and leaders of the traditionalist society, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, have been seeking a way to fully reintegrate the members of the society back into the life of the Catholic Church.

During the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis made special provisions to recognize as valid the absolution offered by SSPX priests through the sacrament of confession. After the Holy Year ended, the pope extended that provision “lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the church’s pardon.”

Pope Francis met in April 2016 with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the society. The meeting seemed to signal progress in reconciling the group with the church.

“Despite the objective persistence of the canonical irregularity in which, for the time being, the Society of St. Pius X finds itself,” the commission said in its new letter, the provisions approved by the pope on marriages should alleviate “any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage.”

The commission also said it relied on the cooperation of the church’s bishops to ensure that “the process toward full institutional regularization may be facilitated” between the church and the traditionalist society.

In a statement released the same day, the society said it was grateful to the pope for his “pastoral solicitude” so that “all the faithful who want to marry in the presence of a priest of the Society of St. Pius X can do so without any worries about the validity of the sacrament.”

“The priests of the Society of St. Pius X will strive faithfully, as they have done since their ordination, to prepare future spouses for marriage according to the unchangeable doctrine of Christ about the unity and indissolubility of this union before receiving the parties’ consent in the traditional rite of the holy church,” the society said.

Vatican talks with the society began under St. John Paul II and continued throughout the papacy of now-retired Pope Benedict XVI.

St. John Paul had excommunicated Bishop Fellay and other leaders of the society in 1988 when they were ordained without papal permission by Archbishop Lefebvre, who died in 1991. Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications in 2009, opening the way for more regular talks.

The talks have focused particularly on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and especially its documents on religious liberty, ecumenism, liturgy and relations with other religions.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017


A young man had a vocation to the priesthood, so his bishop sent him to study in Rome. After being duly ordained priest and serving in the diocese, his bishop sent him to Rome again for further study. While there he used to visit a small church to say his office and to pray. At the door sat a group of beggars seeking alms, and one of them made him feel uneasy for some inexplicable reason. So he went back to him and asked, “Do I know you?” “Yes,” said the beggar, “I studied for the priesthood with you here in Rome and was ordained.”

The priest asked aghast, “Whatever happened to you?” He was told: “I encountered crisis after crisis in my life and eventually renounced the priesthood. I had my priestly faculties taken from me. I lost everything and am reduced to begging.” The priest could not forget the beggar and prayed constantly for him. The study course he was attending was drawing to an end and the students were invited to receive individual blessings from Pope John Paul II. They were forbidden to speak to him personally, but as the priest knelt to receive the blessing, his mind was so full of the beggar that he blurted out, “Holy Father, please pray for X who sits begging outside a church in Rome. He was ordained priest, but has resigned and his priestly faculties were removed.” He hardly had time to finish as he was hustled away by indignant attendants. A few days later the priest received an invitation and he hurried to the church and found the beggar. “Come quickly,” he said, “We are to dine with the Pope.” “Impossible,” replied the beggar, “How could I visit him in this state?” The priest helped him to tidy up and they entered by the great gates of St. Peter’s, where they were met by Monsignor Dziwisz, the Polish secretary to the Pope. He conducted them to the dining room where His Holiness awaited them. After introductions, they sat down to a lovely meal. During dessert, the Pope signaled to his secretary who rose, and beckoning to the priest to follow him, left the room. After about 15 minutes the Pope called them in again. Nothing was said about what happened in their absence. As they crossed St. Peter’s Square, the priest, overcome with curiosity, asked the beggar eagerly what transpired while he was out of the room. The beggar related that when they were alone, the Holy Father turned to him and said, “Father, please hear my confession.” In great confusion and distress he replied, “I cannot do that. I am no longer a priest.” The Pope looked at him with loving compassion. Then he raised his right hand and wagging his finger he said, “ONCE A PRIEST, ALWAYS A PRIEST.” After a long pause, he continued, “As Bishop of Rome and Head of the Catholic Church, I could restore your priestly faculties to you…but you would have to ask.” The beggar, overwhelmed and close to tears, said simply, “Please, Holy Father…” Then the Pope heard his confession and restored his priesthood to him. Afterwards (John Paul) repeated his original request and he heard the Pope’s confession. After a pause for prayers and meditation, John Paul said: “When you leave here, I want you to go to the church where you have been begging and seek out the parish priest. I am appointing you curate in that parish, with special responsibility for the beggars who seek alms at the church door.” This article, titled “Once A Priest, Always a Priest,” was written by Kitty D’Encer in Sicut Parvuli, Winter, 2006. It is a true story.

WebPhilosopher at Sunday, March 26, 2017

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Hong Kong bid makes Gay Olympics cut.

(Fr. Orthohippo –  Somehow I missed that there was a Gay Olympics. Huh. I thought today’s Olympics had no restrictions against gays.)

Successful bid could mean estimated HK$1 billion economic boost from giant international sport and cultural event

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 9:36am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 11:26pm

Hong Kong is to join Guadalajara in Mexico and Washington DC in the United States in contesting for the right to host the “gay Olympics” after making the final shortlist for the 2022 event.

Ahead of the announcement in November, a delegation from the Federation of Gay Games, the guardians of the quadrennial sports and cultural festival, will arrive in May to conduct a site visit to assess Hong Kong’s feasibility as a host city.

In the autumn, the bid team will head to Paris, hosts of the 2018 games, to make its final pitch in front of the federation’s delegates.

Organisers hope that bringing the games to Hong Kong will challenge the stigma and cultural barriers faced by LGBT groups across the region. Their case is strengthened by the fact that no Asian city has hosted the games since their inception in 1982.

“Hong Kong is the perfect city to represent Asia,” Dennis Philipse, co-chair of the Hong Kong bid team, said. “Asia is home to an estimated 221 million LGBT+ people, but also where there is an ongoing struggle to overcome homophobia and gain acceptance.”

The bid has received backing from the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Tourism Board and father of Lan Kwai Fong and entrepreneur Allan Zeman.

The city would receive a boost to the tune of HK$1 billion, due to the 15,000 athletes estimated to participate and the 40,000 visitors expected to attend.

The city’s pitch for the games features 36 events including local favourites trail running and dragon boat racing alongside traditional track and field events. Taking advantage of existing facilities, the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, Victoria Park swimming pool, and the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal are all listed as key venues.

The 2022 games would not require taxpayer funding, instead supported through corporate sponsorship, private donors and generated revenue.

Bid team co-chair Benita Chick said: “The Gay Games is much more diverse than an ‘Olympics’ per se as it is also a ­festival that includes arts and ­culture and a conference.”

“The mission is to further promote diversity and inclusion by welcoming participants regardless of their ability.”

First hosted in San Francisco in 1982, the Gay Games went on to become the largest global sport and cultural gathering open to all, regardless of ability, age, sexual orientation, race, gender, nationality, political or religious beliefs, ethnic origin or HIV status.

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