Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another ice age cometh?

Some things I put up here are those which have occured some time back and I have to wait for the related issues to settle down before I make those things public, like my embezzlement of the answer sheets in IMT(put up that post in Feb 2009), and sometimes I put up my beliefs and expectations of the future. While these may be dismissed as mere speculations by some without any foundation, these definitely warrant a second thought with a rational and logical bent of mind. This one would undoubtedly fall into the latter category.

This may come as a surprise to some who have been following global warming , or rather the protocols or meetings that are being held on regular basis, and there is this buzz regarding the topic, and the ice age issue is virtually non-existent. The explanation for this hype regarding the current issue of global warming is that we need a suitable culprit to frame, and in this case it is the greenhouse gas emissions by factories , automobiles etc. which are all a by product of our civilization, and we forget that mother nature always keeps moving along at its own pace, and accordingly climate changes follow. The basic tenet of nature that we tend to forget is: IT'S A CYCLE! Every beginning begets an end, the end is just a means to a new beginning. If the dinosaurs had not gone extinct, the rule of mammals and later on, homo sapiens , would never have come to pass. Just about everything in the cosmos follows this basic rule of cycles: rotation of planets- day comes after night, revolution in their orbits, path of comets, life and death, and the list goes on. Anything that begins, would have an end, and any end is a means to a new beginning. Some of the lesser known natural cycles are the sunspot cycle, the magnetic pole reversal, and the ice age. All occur with a certain degree of regularity, though the time period is not always exactly the same because of some variations like wobble or some other phenomena, but it is approximately the same. The pole reversal and the ice age are two cycles whose time is high overdue and can occur anytime. As a matter of fact, the earth hasn't been this warm in ages, and its only a matter of time before things start moving the other way.

Firstly, the pole reversal is a phenomenon of which many people might never have heard of. It occurs once every 50,000 years or so and the effects can be devastating for life on the planet. For one , migratory birds would lose all sense of direction. The full effects of such a change are not fully understood but it is well understood that the magnetic north, which people use for navigation purposes is slightly different from the geographic north where James Cook first reached in 1834. You may say that now we have GPS and all but the fact is, compasses are still used to find the direction in underground or underwater regions where the satellite signal cannot reach. As of the recent records, the Magnetic North was very close to the geographic North though slightly different. In 1904, it started moving at about 5 miles an year. Currently, its near some island in Canada and moving rapidly at about 35 miles an year towards Siberia. Is this an auger? Does this ring a bell? Can it be the harbinger of some catastrophic change?

Now, we come to the more pressing issue of ice age, which, at least everyone has heard of. From past records it is known that ice ages last for about 90,000 years in which half of the planet gets covered with ice and there is a warm interglacial period of about 10,000 years in between. This period is called the Holocene. This is the era in which we are living in. The last ice age ended 12,000 years ago, so the next one is nigh overdue. It would most definitely we stupidity and brazenness to even think that such an event would not occur again. An indication for the onset of an ice age and the end of the Holocene is the concentration of a particular oxygen isotope in the soil. When the concentration reaches critical level, the ice age sets in. And according to present data, the concentration of that particular isotope is at unprecedented levels. The question begets: did man start all the previous ice ages?NO! We are but silent witnesses to the events of nature, in the end nature will dwarf us all and we will find whatever we are doing to nature as far as the climate is concerned, is miniscule and almost impertinent. Fact is, we are predicting melting of ice caps because of global warming based on past data which we have for the last 100 years or so. We do not have as much data for the last million years or so, so we tend to forego that possibility; and the rest of the world simply follows through with the hype. Attention generates even more attention, and the unhyped possibility gets neglected, like it didnt even exist.

Now coming to the global warming part: It may be true that CO2 and other such gases trap heat, thereby raising the temperature. But just look outside- Do you call this global warming? Where is this global warming bullshit when we are freezing within our woolens in our homes? Just keep your mind free of all the hullabaloo you have been hearing and ask yourself what's this global warming crap? Does it even exist? Temperatures were rising, albeit nominally every year, and then very much unexpectedly, they began to fall. 2007 was perhaps the coldest year in the last 10 years or so(at that time), and in January 2010 we have witnessed the sort of cold wave the likes of which perhaps we have not seen in our lifetime. And it is a similar story worldwide. There are reports of a record snowfall here, and lowest temperature in 60-70 years there. If the recorded temperature has broken a 70 year record, that would put us where we were in the 1930s per se the temperature. The South China Sea has frozen after 70-80 years, Chicago records a -17 , Toronto a -22 and Helsinki a -32, way below normal. IS This what you call global warming?

Tiny island nations like Tuvalu have been pushing their fight against global warming in meets like Copenhagen(read Flopenhagen), but did anyone care to measure the sea level, or just going with the hype and the accompanying fear? As it is , the water level has actually gone down by a little in the last 3-4 years! But we have a habit of going with the hype, perhaps because there are a large number of people who earn their livelihood through research done on this topic, having spent many years of their lives earning their doctorates. The scientists have now admitted their mistake when declaring that the glaciers would melt by 2035, so perhaps the global warming thing isn't having much effect. In fact, glaciers in Canada and Argentina have been recorded to advance in the last few years at a time when the collapse of Larsen B is hogging all the limelight.
So, is this global warming totally inconsequential? Maybe not. Let us turn back the clock by 10,000 years. In the previous ice age, there were large glaciers in Canada which advanced and receded with changes in climate, and when the ice age ended, a large lake now known as lake Agassiz was left behind. This lake was much larger than the current great lakes, larger than the Caspian sea, had more water than all present lakes combined and was spread upto South Dakota in the US. It used to drain periodically and the last drainage occurred about 10,000 years back when the remaining water in the lake rushed into the Atlantic because of breaking of some ice barrier. A very large volume of freshwater went into the sea within an year , and this changed the salinity of the ocean and the currents were totally shut off because of this. The ocean currents regulate the temperature of the land masses, keeping the Northern regions warm. With the currents switched off, there was nothing to keep Europe from freezing. The Thames used to freeze every year and things took about 200 years to get back to normal. This mini ice age is called the Younger Dryas, named after a flower found in the Tundra. Now lets say if the ice cover of Greenland is to melt within an year or so, the resulting influx of freshwater could cause a similar situation. This possibility has been chillingly portrayed in the movie The day after tomorrow in which Larsen B ice shelf collapses in Antarctica and as a consequence, the whole Northern hemisphere freezes in the time span of 3-4 days. Too dramatic and far-fetched? Consider this: In the Younger Dyras, Europe froze within months. But then again, that was not caused by any human activity like greenhouse gas emissions. The possibility of a mini ice age because of human activity is there, but it is very remote and miniscule.
An early postulated map of lake Agassiz, now believed to be an underestimation
early map lake agassiz
Scene from the movie " The day after tomorrow(2004)"
scene from the day after tomorrow 2004

Another scene showing the statue of liberty and two ships, frozen in the sea

scene from the day after tomorrow

The probability of an global warming or global cooling happening was pegged at 50:50 by some scientists a few years back, that is it could go either way in the near future. With the recent climate shifts in the last 2-3 years, it does appear that global cooling is happening, and it may well be here to stay. While global warming may depend on greenhouse gas emissions which is not fixed and may vary, the coming of an ice age is an inevitability for me as I believe in the theory of cycles. The only question is: when? Maybe in the next 1000 years, or in the next 100 years, or 10 years, or maybe an year. In the end, what standing does man have against the forces of nature? The current emissions of greenhouse gases may actually be warding off the onset of the inevitable.

And there is possibly one more player in the game, one which is too powerful to be ignored: the SUN. There is this cycle of solar flares and sunspots. In case the sunspots do not happen when they are supposed to, it is called solar minima. If the solar minimum continues for an extended period, that would mean reduced heating and that may well be the trigger for a new era.

The following are real scenes from the blizzard of 2010, called the snowmageddon by president Obama and snowpocalypse by some other people. upto 3 feet of snowfall was recorded in Washington, and upto 5-6 feet was recorded in Canada.
snomageddon winter driving

Snowmageddon: The blizzard of 2010

snopocalypse snowmageddon Snowpocalypse?
snomageddon the blizzard of 2010
So, do you see an eerie similarity in the movie and the reality in 2010? the movie, released in 2004, began with the collapse of LarsenB, which broke off by December 2005. As a consequence of global realignment, there were snowstorms all over the Northern hemisphere, not very unlike the ones going on now in Feb 2010 in US and Canada.