Ice Age 6
Unseasonably cold weather in the UK has spurred speculation the earth may be entering a new Ice Age. This flies completely in the face of last decade's strident warnings about Global Warming. "Piers Corbyn believes that the last three winters could be the harbinger of a mini ice age that could be upon us by 2035, and that it could start to be colder than at any time in the last 200 years. He goes on to speculate that a genuine ice age might then settle in, since an ice age is now cyclically overdue. Is he barmy?"
Piers Corbyn is about as "barmy" as Time Magazine when it predicted in 1974 that another Ice Age was right around the corner.
Telltale signs are everywhere —from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest.Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.
The same tone of impending doom; the same portentous omens; the same catastrophic language was used not long ago -- but to warn about a new Ice Age. Today the same tenor is being used to caution against Global Warming. How did the "science" turn 180 degrees around in that time? How could the data have suddenly done an about-face? Who knows?
What is common across the decades was the assertion that weather is generating a political crisis which forces governments to act. Back in 1974, the scientists who looked at Global Cooling believed it would cause the world to starve from freezing crops unless of course, something was done. Today their scientific descendants are claiming the world will starve to death from wilting crops unless something is done. What exactly the crisis happens to be seems less important than acting. Just don't stand there. Do something.
University of Toronto Climatologist Kenneth Hare, a former president of the Royal Meteorological Society, believes that the continuing drought and the recent failure of the Russian harvest gave the world a grim premonition of what might happen. Warns Hare: "I don't believe that the world's present population is sustainable if there are more than three years like 1972 in a row."
And the direction of that required action always flowed one way. America had to change. Strange as it may seem to people who've watched television for the last ten years, a major concern of the 1980s was that burning vast amounts of carbon from nuclear fireballs would cause a "nuclear winter". "In 1982, a special issue of Ambio devoted to the possible environmental consequences of nuclear war included a paper by Crutzen and Birks anticipating the nuclear winter scenario."
Crutzen and Birks showed that smoke injected into the atmosphere by fires in cities, forests and petroleum reserves could prevent up to 99% of sunlight from reaching the Earth's surface, with major climatic consequences ... Around this time, interest in nuclear war environmental effects also arose in the USSR. ... Russian atmospheric scientist Georgy Golitsyn applied his research on dust-storms to the situation following a nuclear catastrophe. ... In 1984 the WMO commissioned Georgy Golitsyn and N. A. Phillips to review the state of the science."
They found that a nuclear war destroying half the world's cities would create "large quantities of carbonaceous smoke - 1–2 × 10^14 grams being mostly likely, with a range of 0.2 – 6.4 × 10^14 grams (NAS; TTAPS assumed 2.25 × 10^14). The smoke resulting would be largely opaque to solar radiation but transparent to infra-red, thus cooling by blocking sunlight but not causing warming from enhancing the greenhouse effect."
The implication was clear. If the world wanted to avoid nuclear winter, then nuclear disarmament would have to be imposed. And that meant disarming America above all. Jonathan Schell's, The Fate of the Earth, "helped focus national attention in the early 1980s on the movement for a nuclear freeze. The Fate of the Earth painted a chilling picture of the planet in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, while The Abolition offered a proposal for full-scale nuclear disarmament."
Just how exactly cows farting can cause "Global Warming" while exploding thousands of artificial suns on the surface of the planet freezes it is a mystery to me. But the physical process itself may be irrelevant. Whether the world is cooling or warming, or whether burning down every living tree and wooden house on the planet actually cools or heats the earth appears to depend on one political constant. It will always be America's fault. Back when the US had the preponderance of nuclear weapons, "nuclear winter" was the great danger. When it had the preponderance of cars, Global Warming was the universal peril. The process is apparently this: light a match, any match. To the question, does it heat or cool the world, look at where the match is made or failing that, who is striking it. Is it made in the USA? There you have your answer.
To the question: is the world entering a new period of cooling, perhaps Piers Corbyn should ditch his datasets and statistical analysis programs and focus on one single variable. Can a New Ice Age be blamed on America? If it can, then it's real. Otherwise it is false. Over the coming years and beyond my lifetime, historians may wish to apply this formula: V = American Policy multiplied by the absolute value of any variable. It's always America's fault.
One of the great achievements of the Enlightenment was the emergence of Reason as the primary source of authority. The most worrisome thing about the recent history of climate change "science" is its apparent arbitrariness. Perhaps the world is entering new climatic age -- whether of fire or ice is uncertain -- but that is not as worrisome as the mental epoch to which it seems to be returning. The Dark Ages were a time when belief -- or to use another word, ideology -- was the arbiter of truth and social position the determinant of legitimacy. Between Marxism and the Islam, what odds would you give Galileo?
Link to Wretchard's novel "No Way In" print edition