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Human Arrogance and the Pending Ice Age

(Pre-Note: While today is April 1st, this posting is not meant as humor or in jest.)

Human beings are an interesting bunch. We view ourselves are being unique both individually and as a species. We believe we're the only self-aware, rational organisms on the planet. This may or may not be true, or it may just be that we can't see all truths. At any rate, it's interesting to see how this plays out in the mainstream media, in politics, and in the general population. The best example I can point to in modern times is global climate change.

If you look at the CO2 and Temperature charts for the past 400,000 years (which, according to some science, may only be 1/10th or 1/100th of the age of the planet), we see an interesting cycle (see references below). That cycle reflects an ice occurring on a regular basis, with coinciding increases in CO2 and temperature. So, how do we, the rational humans, respond?

(Updated 4/2/07: Added 3 new links to references.)

I previously wrote about Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" and my initial reactions. Having had a little more time to think, I've come to the conclusion that humans are arrogant and idiotic.

First off, if we've proven that global climate change is normal, and that climate cycles include periodic ice ages, then why are we surprised that one is coming? Second, even if we have contributed to the heating of the planet in the short-term, why would we think that this would actually change anything? Third, how amazingly arrogant are we to think that we can or should try to stop an impending ice age?

Here's what I think I think: humans, in general, are scared. Particularly politicians and the wealthy. Why? Because they have the most to lose if an ice age were to occur. If a massive polar cap were to form and extend from 90 to 45 degrees latitude in both hemispheres, the impact on Western and Asian civilization could be devastating. It would likely cause current power structures (not talking electricity here) to collapse, and who knows the impact on the markets - many of which would fall within these zones, or dangerously close to the border of it.

The rational approach here would be to build contingency plans for this coming ice age. It would be intelligent to start building strong partnerships, for example, with Mexico and Central America. It would be intelligent to develop a fall-back contingency plan for government to operate out of southern climates. It would be intelligent for state and federal emergency response agencies to develop mass evacuation plans for northern regions and for coastal areas that would be affected by a 10-20 foot increase in sea levels. And it would be smart to do this all immediately.

If you've seen the movie "The Day After Tomorrow," then you have an understanding of what I'm talking about. Unlike that movie, however, my guess is that the ice age change will occur over a matter of months, if not a couple years, rather than overnight. We're already seeing the first stages of this change in weather today. We know that ocean currents are getting slower, which is a sign of an impending major climactic change.

Scientists are in agreement that CO2 and temperature is increasing - and quite dramatically, too. Scientists agree that the poles are melting, and they can model the exponential (or logarithmic, depending on how you chart) decay of polar ice. Scientists agree that ocean currents are driven by a mixture of warm surface water and cold, heavy floor water (see References below for better explanations).

How is it, then, that our conclusion is to try and stop global climate change, rather than to prepare for the coming big change? One article below (from Discovery) suggests that we will not see an ice age this century. Yet, how is this calculated? Looking at the charts linked below, how is it that someone could draw the conclusion that an ice age is not imminent? Especially when you add in that CO2 and temperatures are spiking higher than seen in 400k years?

It strikes me as irrational to believe that we can stop climate cycles. It strikes me as irrational and arrogant to think that humans a) are the primary cause of something much larger than humans, b) that we think we can manage these cycles, and c) that we think we should manage these cycles.

My prediction: we will see increasingly violent storms, culminating in a full-fledged (not mini) ice age in the next 50 years. Not only that, but I would be shocked and surprised if we did not see this come to fruition in my parents' lifetime. It just doesn't make sense otherwise. And it places far too much confidence in the importance and capabilities of humans, who can't even figure out how to put aside fictional (aka "religious") differences and live in peace. Humans cannot figure out how to eradicate diseases for which we have cures! Surely humanity, then, is not capable of managing global climate cycles. And nor should they.

I'm surprised that environmentalists have focused all their energies on stopping global warming, when to do so seems to be contrary to their values of not meddling with mother nature. Yet another sign of human arrogance and ignorance at play. And, probably a little bit of power struggle thrown in for good measure.

Comparison of Atmospheric Temperature with CO2 Over The Last 400,000 Years
Temperature and CO2 consentration in the atmosphere since 400 000 years - Climate Change
Global Climate Change and Energy: CO2 and Temperature Change
Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age
Greenhouse gases slow ocean circulation
Warming Could Slow Ocean Currents
A Brief History of Ice Ages and Warming
Wikipedia: Ice age
A quick background to the last ice age


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