Global Warming and Global Cooling
There is a great linguistic irony in the fact that we are being warned repeatedly by various sorts of alarmists that the emissions of our cars and factories, as well as the farting of our cows, is contributing to global warming but the danger of global warming is not that the earth will become too warm per se but that it will actually cool down and we northern North Americans and Europeans will be living in ice houses if we live at all.
Just for fun, I Googled "greenhouse gases are causing global warming" searching for an alarmist page and the first entry was from the University of Michigan. To its credit, it noted that no one can prove that human causes of greenhouse gasses are accelerating global warming to any significant degree. To its discredit, it neglected to mention that the worst consequence of global warming is global cooling and that is a linguistic conundrum if ever I wrote one. How can warming cause cooling? Easy, it seems. As the planet warms, glaciers and ice packs melt and the runoff of ice cold water both cools the waters of the polar regions and causes desalination and both of these things can disrupt or even stop the ocean current "conveyor belt" that moves shallow warm water north where it is cooled and sent south and deep cold water south where it is warmed and sent back north. This conveyor belt is responsible for keeping Britain relatively warm in comparison with parts of Canada that are at the same latitude. This may be why when I have Googled on this topic of global warming BBC web pages inevitably pop up. They are rightly scared about the warming of the Earth.
We have here an extremely difficult scientific question: to what degree are humans contributing to global warming? As I have noted, responsible sources say that no answer to this question can be proved. There is no surprise in that since scientists are rarely able to prove anything about complex phenomena like the climate. My wife and I checked weather predictions for yesterday so that we could prepare for the weather at the University of Minnesota at Ohio State football game. The prediction was cold, very windy, and a good chance of rain. They got the first two right I checked the local weather radar map before we left and predicted cold with no great likelihood of rain. I was right. In short even local weather events can't be predicted with any great accuracy. Why should it be different for long term, including very long term predictions?
Let me tell you some things I bet you didn't know. There was a Little Ice Age in Europe that Wikipedia dates as follows :
* 1250 for when Atlantic pack ice began to growGuess what? We didn't drive our autos about madly or pump substantial amounts of greenhouse gasses or keep large numbers of farting cows back in 1250. Or 1315. Or 1550. Another interesting site concerning the Little European Ice Age provides this chronology replete with the consequences::
* 1300 for when warm summers stopped being dependable in Northern Europe
* 1315 for the rains and Great Famine of 1315-1317
* 1550 for theorized beginning of worldwide glacial expansion
* 1650 for the first climatic minimum
In contrast to its vague beginning, there is an almost undisputed consensus that the end of the Little Ice Age was in the mid-19th century.
1595: Gietroz (Switzerland) glacier advances, dammed Dranse River, and caused flooding of Bagne with 70 deaths.This is scary stuff to be sure. Here is a nice web site concerning rapid climate changes.
1600-10: Advances by Chamonix (France) glaciers cause massive floods which destroyed three villages and severely damaged a fourth. One village had stood since the 1200's.
1670-80's: Maximum historical advances by glaciers in eastern Alps. Noticeable decline of human population by this time in areas close to glaciers, whereas population elsewhere in Europe had risen.
1695-1709: Iceland glaciers advance dramatically, destroying farms.
1710-1735: A glacier in Norway was advancing at a rate of 100 m per year for 25 years.
1748-50: Norwegian glaciers achieved their historical maximum LIA positions.
I am a linguist and dishonestly used the above cited linguistic conundrum just to make this topic relevant to my blog but I felt a debt to say what I have learned since writing my blog, The Danger of Metaphors. What I have learned since then is that the global warming alarmists have been at least as dishonest as those who sell us oil and sell us products that use it. The fact is that we are headed for another Little Ice Age or a Big Ice Age whether we do anything or not.
There are several natural causes of global cooling. Check out this very interesting site, which suggests as possible cause sun spot variation and volcanic eruptions sending debris and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, both of which block sun rays from hitting Earth. A television show on the National Geographic channel mentioned that any volcano expelling sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere even if it isn't erupting can contribute to global cooling since this gas reflects sunlight. And for years and years I have read and heard about meteor impacts shooting debris into the atmosphere, blocking the sun's rays. This has often been cited as a cause for the extinction of dinosaurs. In fact large mammals and other large creatures with long gestation periods are quite vulnerable to rapid climate changes since they cannot adapt quickly to new circumstances. We would be large animals with large gestations periods in case you wondered.
Right now the North Atlantic waters are cooling down due to glacier and ice pack melting and we can expect disruptions in the ocean conveyor belt in the who knows how distant future. I will be dead. Possibly every human alive right now will not experience it but I wouldn't bet on it. I know I wall be flamed for writing about a subject I do not have the relevant expertise for. However, if I have failed it would be in my selection of web sites to show you. I have no personal opinion as to whether or not we should worry about what we might be doing to the atmosphere except that there is no sense to our doing anything that would hurry up Doomsday. My natural political disposition runs with the alarmists but the bad guys aren't always wrong.