Natural climate change is frequent, often extreme, and sometimes rapid. Industrial CO2 is a real problem just as you have heard, but it’s only a fragment of the whole story of climate. In other words, I’m not a global warming denier – I want to add to the discussion of climate change from the point of view of geology and natural change. What may matter most is not our carbon policies, but whether we invest in adaptive strategies that can serve us well when change inevitably arrives on our doorstep.Or as Wilson describes it
Climate science, with its computer models, is a Johnny-come-lately to the narrative. Not so geology. “For almost 200 years,” Peters writes, “geologists have studied the basic evidence of how climate has changed on our planet.” They work not with computer models but with “direct physical evidence left in the muck and rocks.”Peters agrees with what I learned in the Earth Science class I took as a freshman in college during the 1970s. The Professor taught us that because of historic global cycles most scientists believed the Earth was likely heading for a cooling period, possibly even an ice age.
Space constraints preclude any detailed summary of Peters’s accessible but jam-packed little book. But some take-aways can be noted.
The first thing to note, though, is that we could be long overdue for a cold spell. In recent geologic history, which stretches back a couple of million years — geologists have an expansive view of time — Earth’s climate has been characterized by long periods of bitter cold punctuated by brief episodes of warmth. “The cycle,” Peters notes, “is always a long period of cold followed by a much shorter period of warmth.” Specifically, the cold intervals last about 100,000 years, and the warm ones about 10,000. The period we are living in, called the Holocene, began 11,700 years ago, which makes it “no different at all from other brief, warm intervals in the Pleistocene,” the previous epoch that lasted those couple of million years.
Peters uses the analogy of a football field to help readers visualize all this. We in the Holocene are positioned at the edge of one of the end zones. The cold periods average about 5.5 yards, the warm ones about half a yard.
Another point Peters is at pains to emphasize is that climate change can be quite abrupt. Toward the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, northern Europe experienced a period of warming called the Allerod Oscillation that lasted about 1,000 years. The pollen record indicates that the “shift to renewed bitter cold took place very rapidly, certainly within a single human lifetime.”
Today despite what the preachers of Global Warming insist, there is is no consensus of scientists about global warming.
For more about the growing number of scientists warning that the earth was heading toward an ice age (something that made Al Gore very sad), click here.