Skip to comments.The coming ice age [full-blown glaciation in less than 20 years]
Posted on 03/08/2004 4:57:00 PM PST by SJackson
As little as 30 years ago the talk wasnt about global warming, it was about an imminent ice age. Is an ice age likely? Even possible? Consider this: There have been more than 20 glacial advances, or ice ages, in just the last two million years. And we know from geological evidence that each glaciation lasted anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 yearsno one knows why the disparityseparated by warm periods that last some 10,000 to 15,000 years. What we can be reasonably sure of is that were now in one of the warm periods, and this one is already 13,000 years old. Some scientists think its at an end and a new ice age is about to begin.
No one really knows what causes ice ages. Theories abound. They include perturbations in the earths orbit, changes in ocean currents, the earth periodically passing through galactic dust that obscures the sun, variations in the suns energy output, changes in continental positions, uplift of continental blocks, reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere, etc. Evidence or experiment may eventually resolve which of the theories wins out, or it may turn out that a combination of theories are true. It may even be that none of the current theories proves satisfactory and some entirely new theory ultimately explains their cause.
But what is pretty certain is how they take place. It was once common wisdom to believe that the advent of an ice age took place over centuries or even millennia, and that they ended the same way. It was thought that the changes were so slow that, if people were around to witness them, each generation would hardly notice any change. If the next glaciation were to come on slowly, and we recognized it as the beginning of an ice age, maybe there would be time for civilization to adjust: to begin food storage, to develop crop hybrids that will endure shorter growing seasons, to move populations, factories, and technologythe core of our civilizationinto southern climates, etc.
But we now have evidence that ice ages come on with an abruptness that will catch us by total surprise. Physical evidence indicates that when the last ice age started, the British Isles went from a temperate climate to being completely covered with glaciers hundreds of feet thick in just 20 years.
Do scientists think itll happen that way again? Yes. And if the next ice age starts heres how it may occur: At first we wouldnt even realize it, so the first few years wed feel we were just having one or two bad winters. But after a few years rivers will freeze all-year-round, snow from the previous years wont completely melt, glaciers will begin to form, and some of what is currently now the worlds most fertile ground will become unfarmable.
Countries bordering on both sides of the Atlantic will change radically as a result of changes in the Gulf Stream, and Europe, which today is almost 20 degrees warmer than other parts of the world at the same latitude, will become as cold and dry as Siberia. The Sahara may again become forested while the Amazon basin becomes a desert. Florida may also become a desert, as it was in a previous ice age.
At the same time, if the climate changes enough to disturb the monsoon season that fuels agriculture from Africa to China, where over half the worlds six billion people now live, hundreds of millions will starve when the climate abruptly changes. Theres no way to prepare them for that.
Canadian and Russian wheat will fail completely. American agriculture, on which much of the world depends, will be scaled back by shorter growing seasons. Not only will we not have enough food for export, we wont be able to grow enough to sustain even our own current population. And jobs? Factories will close, service businesses will disappear, stocked supermarkets will become a thing of the past. Get ready for your standard of living to drop like a rock while you and your kin go hungry.
How far will the ice fields extend? In North America they will most likely reach as far south as present day Chicago. But they may go further. And this isnt going to be some picture postcard winter landscape. At the height of the last ice age, the ice fields covering much of North America were up to two miles thick. So, expect the great northern cities, such as New York, Boston, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, etc., to be swept away before advancing glaciers. In the meantime, sea levels will drop and more of the continental shelves will be exposed. Youll be able to walk from Siberia to Alaska, from California to the Channel Islands, from Britain to France, from Australia to New Guinea.
But when is this really all likely to happen? Because no one knows what causes ice ages, theres no way to forecast when the next one will start, how bad it will be, or what effect the (allegedly man-made) global warming taking place today will have on it. We cant tell whether it will be less severe than the last one, when the ice sheets only extended as far south as Wisconsin, or as bad as some of the glaciations of half a billion years ago when ice sheets formed all the way to the equator. Although this latter scenario is unlikely, no one can be sure. But if it does, kiss the human race good-bye.
What seems fairly certain is that we will go from the world as it is today to full-blown glaciation in less than 20 years, maybe in as little as four or five. And there is no way the United States can adjust to and survive a climate change this abrupt.
Can we stop it? We cant even stop a single snow storm. Imagine trying to stop an ice age thats going to go on for tens of thousands of years.
Seems like I read "The Coming Dark Age" by Roberto Vacca in the seventies.
In case of ice age, we can make that immigration door swings both ways, ya know...fix me up some tacos and a fat government check, and a hospital bed, cause hell knows what I might come down with until we clean your, I mean, OUR new country up. Habla ingles??
A little old man walks into a lumber company office, and applies for a job as a lumberjack. The foreman politely tries to talk him out of the idea. After all, he is old, small, and apparently much too weak to fell trees.
The old man picks up a saw and walks over to a huge redwood. In record time, the old man is finished sawing down the tree.
"That's just astounding," the forman says, "wherever did you learn to saw trees like that?"
"Well now," the old man smiles, "have you ever heard of the Sahara Forest?"
"You mean the Sahara Desert."
"Sure, that's what it's called NOW..."
Although I do agree that rapid climate change is possible, contemplate that claim for a moment. Let's make this minimalist and say that hundreds of feet = 200 feet. That means that 10 feet of ice needs to be created each year.
Snow is fluffy stuff. It takes about 10 inches of wet snow to make one inch of rain equivalent, and we'll be generous and say that five inches of snow would compact to an inch of glacial ice. So to accumulate twenty feet of ice per year, that means we would need 100 feet of snow. That's 1200 inches a year - or 240 inches of rain equivalent in the winter. And that doesn't even compensate for seasonal melting.