A new report published in the journal Nature today shows that a major ice age was narrowly missed just before the industrial revolution, explaining it by the low orbital eccentricity of the Earth and, potentially, to higher levels of CO2 to the ones of previous Ice Age.
In simple terms, it means that we have managed to avoid a major catastrophe, famine, wars for territory and food on an unprecedented scale. It also means that we can enjoy warm summers and get a chance to wear designers’ summer collections as opposed to being constantly wrapped in cardigans and pullovers. “This is in principle good news, as ice ages are a great challenge,” said and part of the research team. Sea levels rise and fall by more than 100 meters during global ice ages.
The Guardian commentary dismisses the positive side of findings and takes an opportunity to yet again discuss ‘harmful’ effects of CO2.
First and foremost, it must be said that the climate of planet Earth has been changing forever and it is only natural to assume that the same trend will continue, with or without our consent.
For example, in the period from 1000 to about 1400 AD, the northern hemisphere was relatively warm, allowing Viking settlements to flourish even in Greenland and Iceland. In contrary, back in 17th-century people were
Historical difficulties in measuring temperature
For the sake of this argument, it must be noted that the accuracy of historical data is in itself questionable. Apart from a wilful misinterpretation of data by some scientists in order to fit their studies -and thus get Government funding- we must take in account that the first modern mercury thermometer was invented by Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit as late as 1714. Previous thermometers like the one invented by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand II in 1654, used alcohol as its liquid and was known to be inaccurate and used no standardized scale.
In analysing the historical data we must also keep in mind that in the age when less than 1% of the world population could read and write the correct measurement of temperature wasn’t a top priority. This perhaps partly explains why rumours of ‘imminent’ catastrophes such as climate change weren’t popular among folks. At least there is no known written evidence.
By contrast, in modern cities, we record every change and news spreads fast. But the urbanisation of cities has led to large amounts of paved roadways, stone and metal buildings, electrical and vehicle usage. This progress makes certain areas several degrees warmer than nearby suburban or rural areas. With the rapid increase of population over the last few centuries, many places which used to be in relatively rural areas are now much more populated, producing a substantial change in the baseline temperature readings, which obscures the changes caused by general warming.
The only thing we can be sure about is that the Earth has seen some colder periods that are normally followed by warmer ones. These periods can take anywhere from a few years to a few thousand years.
At the moment there is simply no model accurate enough or computer powerful enough to count in ALL possible variables in one way or another affecting climate on our planet. If we are to exclude the contribution of CO2 levels increases, we are left with two major influencers of climate change that mainstream science simply disregards.
The Sun is the source of the energy that causes the motion of the atmosphere and thereby controls weather and climate. Any change in the energy from the Sun received at the Earth’s surface will, therefore, affect climate.
Just over ten thousand years ago the Nothern Hemisphere was almost entirely covered with ice. We refer to this period as the Ice Age. Now, however, we enjoy quite mild winters in most of Europe and even in Scandivanian countries. Needless to say that many glaciers have melted during the period of warming and formed the landscape of Scandinavian countries. Such dramatic changes in climate are commonly attributed to solar activity.
There is a general consensus among scientists that solar activity is the factor that impacts our climate and temperature on planet Earth unlike anything else.
Below are a few solar activity charts that clearly show the fluctuation of solar activity throughout the history of our planet. The majority, if not all, fluctuations coincide with recorded historical temperature maximums and minimums (sunspots are easily observed and recorded since the time of Galileo Galilei):
witnessing a so-called ‘mini ice-age’ the period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period (Medieval Climate Optimum). There is no consensus on how long the mini ice age lasted but, according to historical accounts, temperatures started dropping from about 1300 AD.
Fig 1. The reconstructed depth of the Little Ice Age varies between different studies (anomalies shown are from the 1950–80 reference period)
Fig 3. Sun activity over the past 11,400 years has been reconstructed using Carbon-14-based dendroclimatology.
Website phys.org claims that astronomers have found indications that, over the course of the past 300 to 400 years, the radiative flux of Total Solar Irradiance may have increased by roughly one watt, which means that we are subjected to higher amounts of solar energy.
On the flip side of solar activity, solar researchers’ team from the University of Northumbria are suggesting that a new mini ice-age can hit us as soon as within next fifteen years. Scientists have created a new model of the sun’s activity which they claim produces “unprecedentedly accurate predictions”. The report says that “Solar activity will fall by 60 percent in 2030 – 2040”.
This, of course, may or may not cause the next ice age as in this instance elevated CO2 levels will be a blessing and might keep us warm for a while longer.
But there is another natural force potentially capable of undermining solar activity – short-term but very dramatically.
Back in 2014, we learned that the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctic is melting quicker than it was believed to due to the volcanic activity. The findings of lead author Dusty Schroeder and his colleagues show that the glacier sits on something more like a multi-burner stovetop with burners putting out heat at different levels at different locations. The geothermal heat contributed significantly to the melting of the underside of the glacier, and it might be a key factor in allowing the ice sheet to slide, affecting the ice sheet’s stability and its contribution to future sea level rise.
But as much as volcanic activity may contribute to temperature rise it can also cause dramatic, overnight, a decrease of temperatures.History knows of many instances of volcanic eruptions that emitted large amounts of ashes and gas. The phenomenon described earlier as the mini ice age, in fact, is believed to be the result of an enormous eruption of the Laki fissure system (a chain of volcanoes in which the lava erupts through a crack in the ground instead of from a single point) in Iceland during more than eight months of activity. The Laki event produced an ash cloud that may have reached up into the stratosphere. This cloud caused a dense haze across Europe that dimmed the sun, perhaps as far west as Siberia.
Apart from the ash, volcanoes release gas known as Sulfur aerosols that have a greater impact on the temperature than the ash. Sulfur aerosols appear to take several years to settle out of the atmosphere, which is one of the reasons their effects are so widespread and long-lasting. Thus, volcanoes are capable of not only changing the temperature of planet Earth but with that also the climate, resulting in acid rain and further long-lasting damages to the entire ecosystem.
In 1815, the Indonesian volcano Tambora propelled more ash and volcanic gases into the atmosphere than any other eruption in history and resulted in significant atmospheric cooling on a global scale, much like Krakatau a few decades later. New England and Europe were particularly hard hit, with snowfalls as late as August and massive crop failures. The cold, wet, and unpleasant climatic effects of the eruption led 1816 to be known as “the year without a summer.”
It is evident that there are at least three major contributors to the change of climate and fluctuation of temperatures on the surface of the Earth. The human factor is one of them, and with regards to the fluctuation of temperatures, humans prove to be one of the least contributing ones. Solar activity and volcanic activity, factors that are beyond our control, pose greater significance and can have a greater impact on the ecosystem and climate in general.
Understanding of this major truth is imperative in forming our opinion and views on climate change issues. The ‘real’ scientific world -not the one in the pocket of self serving Governments- and the so-called ‘environmentalists’ will hopefully eventually agree (There will be another ice age before they agree most likely, as never the twain shall meet) that in order to create one reliable model we must include all major variables.