Walter Schiedel and Steven Friesen, two historians of the Roman Empire, have recently attempted to estimate wealth inequality in the Roman Empire when it was at its zenith using papyri ledgers, previous scholarly estimates, imperial edicts, and Biblical passages. Schiedel and Friesen estimate that in 150 AD, the top 1% of Roman society controlled 16% of the wealth, less than half of what America’s top 1% control today! It is also much lower than wealth concentration in N. Ireland - according to the estimate in my recent OEP article, the top 1% of population back in 2001 controlled 22% of the wealth. I have no doubt that that figure is much higher for 2011. You can read more about Schiedel and Friesen's work here.
The Berkeley Earth Project , an independent study of global warming, has found that the earth has become a degree warmer over the past half century. However, the statistical uncertainty surrounding pre-1920 estimates makes it very hard to say much about long-term trends - click here for graph . This is one of my concerns with the global warming debate - we simply don't have trustworthy long-run data which looks at temperature changes over the last millennium (or two). My second concern with the global warming debate is that it is very hard to prove any sort of casual link between global warming and human activity. The scientists may be able to show correlation between global warming and our production of carbon dioxides etc., but correlation is not causation. My third concern with the debate is that those who are sceptical or agnostic are stereotyped as flat-earthers or intellectually-challenged crackpots. This only stifles debate and the progress of science itself.