120 years on – Nature is screaming louder than ever

‘Der Schrei der Natur’ (1893), Edvard Munch. Image: Wikipedia/National Gallery, Oslo.

I am a big fan of the ‘Great Continental Railway Journeys’ TV series presented by former Conservative MP, Michael Portillo. Therefore, having missed a couple of programmes, I have been catching-up on BBC iPlayer. Apart from 20th Century history, a common thread runing through all the programmes is art. In the most recent programme (Prague to Munich) Portillo explains how Expressionism was invented by the so-called Der Blaue Reiter group in Munich. However, it was via the previous programme (i.e. where Portillo travelled from Copenhagen to Oslo) that I learned that the full title of the Edvard Munch’s most famous painting is: The Scream of Nature. As Wikipedia helpfully informs readers, Munch recorded the inspiration for the painting in his diary entry for 22 January 1892:

One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
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7 Responses to 120 years on – Nature is screaming louder than ever

  1. alanyshapiro says:

    Cool! I hadn’t heard the full name before. I actually did a short science piece on the painting a little while ago – hopefully you’ll find it interesting. http://mostlyharmlessscience.com/2013/10/09/even-art-can-be-science/


    • Rick Altman says:

      Thanks for the comment and the link, Alan. I was aware that much of the colour in J.M.W. Turner’s paintings probably resulted from the Krakatoa eruption of 1883 but it seems doubtful that this could have still been happening nine or ten years later.


  2. gerard valleljies says:

    [N.B. The following comment contains many opinions stated as fact. Enter at your own risk. – ML] Also what the writer fails to mention is that the date when Munch saw the blood red sky was shortly AFTER KRAKATAU exploded. That was the inspiration for the “Scream!” Of course, the environmentalists want to believe that everything that happens in nature is due to anthropogenic influence. Global Warming is a fact of the Earth’s life – without it most of the northern hemisphere would be covered by about 1 to 2 km of ice. Global Warming happened about 12k years ago when the Ice caps melted. Climate Change is also a fact of life. The climate is a dynamic continuum and whilst the human race is impacting on it it is not in itself responsible for Typhoon Haiyan or anything else. Here is a question for those who claim that we must stop doing anything: Agreement was reached in the 1990s to stop manufacturing CFC gases. Yet the Austral Ozone hole persists and some years it is bigger than ever and in other years it is smaller. There is a source of CFC gases that refuses to stop producing them, no Government or UN motion… In fact, there is nothing anyone can do that will stop it being produced. That source is nature itself – Mount Erebus releases year in year out tonnes of CFC gases straight into the stratosphere and where is Mount Erebus – in the Antarctic which is also where the Austral Ozone hole is located over. Coincidence NO. Yes, we do need to clean up our way of using the resources. However, hysteria is NOT the answer. BTW, windmills generating electricity – fine by me but, there is a problem: They have a life expectancy of about 10 years and their carbon footprint is calculated to be zero after 15 years. Source for that information the green movement itself. Gas fracking – will Caroline Lucas and her green friends pay my gas bill? No. So use the resource. It is not as dangerous as is claimed – again by the green movement. They were so blind to facts that they declared at Balcombe even when there was no drilling that they could detect seismic activity and it had to be the drilling process. Even the most sophisticated monitoring equipment could not detect the seismic activity but the greens could using their feet! Get your facts right and stop pretending that your pseudo-science is correct but genuine science isn’t. I am a scientist, am open to ideas and debate but often see the facts misrepresented by people who hold no scientific qualifications beyond basic science at elementary school level.


    • Rick Altman says:

      Hi Gerard. Can I suggest that you check your own assumptions and stop being so quick to label people? If not, your lengthy, rambling, rants comments will be moderated and/or deleted. As they are, your remarks contain so many wrong assumptions about me, I can barely be bothered to address them. As I have just responded to Alan, I was aware that much of the colour in J.M.W. Turner’s paintings probably resulted from the Krakatoa eruption of 1883 but it seems doubtful that this could have still been happening ten years later. The remainder of your comments are contrarian talking points, which defy the basic Laws of Physics: Given that humans have, for the last 200 years at least, been burning fossil fuels millions of times faster than they are being created, it would be incredible if the Earth’s climate was not changing. Thus, we have ended the relative climatic and sea level stability that made settled agriculture and modern civilisation possible. This is not hysteria, it is just a logical deduction from basic physics that is backed up by empirical observation (i.e. the totality of post-Industrial warming cannot be explained by natural causes alone). I presume you are not referring to me in your closing remark. However, if you are, as I said, you need to do some basic fact-checking before taking your anger out on your keyboard. Although we are both scientists, one of us is clearly allowing ideology to prejudice their approach to climate science. The majority of the available evidence would suggest that that person is not me.


    • To falsify the hypothesis of AGW you need to demonstrate any of the following: 1. CO2 does not absorb infra-red radiation. 2. There is insufficient CO2 in the atmosphere to alter Earth’s temperature. 3. Atmospheric CO2 levels are not increasing. 4. The increase does not result from human activity. 5. There is a previously unknown phenomenon that closely counteracts the effects of increasing CO2. Points 1 and 2 have been known for 150 years, 3 and 4 for just 50 years or so. These falsifications follow naturally from the basic physics behind the concept of AGW and should not need pointing out to anyone with even a basic understanding of what is going on Any arguments based on supposed ‘pauses’, etc, merely demonstrate a Altman of knowledge of basic climatology or statistics, and probably both.


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