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No, the Ice Age isn't coming. It is already here. The Earth has been in an Ice Age for the last two million years.
It is named the Pleistocene Epoch.
Fortunately the Earth gets a brief holiday from the cold at regular intervals. Only a few of the latest are shown.
We are in a warm holiday period right now, and have been for 13,000 years already. It is named, appropriately, the Holocene Epoch.
The entire development of what we call civilization has occurred in this brief holiday epoch. Most of it has occurred in the last part of it.
We know, from measuring the contents of the historic layers of ice that have accumulated over long periods on Greenland and Antarctica, that the interglacial holiday epochs have occurred at fairly regular intervals.
However, it has also become apparent from the historic pattern that our warm current holiday epoch is about to end.
Thus the jargon developed, the Ice Age is coming.
This means that our current warm interglacial period has largely run its course. I means that the next glaciation cycle looms before us.
When will the Ice Age transition begin?
We know that the next glaciation cycle will happen, though nobody knows when. We only know that the consequences will be enormous if we are are not prepared for it when it begins. Throughout our nice warm period we have seen only minor fluctuations. Even the coldest parts of those, like the Little Ice Age in the 1600s that had caused major agricultural losses, are just minor ripples. Throughout the entire history of civilization no one has experienced the typical deep glaciation climate or anything close to it.
We are dealing with long timeframes here, measured in thousands of years, but it has also been discovered in the historic ice data that large and rapid fluctuations have occurred at the transition interval when the climate system was changing states. We might be already near to such a stage again. The Earth has been rapidly cooling from 1998 onward, with another down step that occurred in 2005. We see fluctuations now happening in the space of years that previously took a hundred years to happen. This does not mean that the steep decline into glaciation has started, but it seems to indicate that a transition is happening. We should take this as a warning.
It has been further discovered that the Ice Age cyclical changes do not occur with precisely timed regularity, so that we have nothing concrete to go by to determine when the next Ice Age transition might begin, or whether it might have already begun. However, we are able to recognize precursors.
That the question of the timing of the Ice Age transition is a critical one, becomes apparent when one considers the enormous impact on civilization that the return of the deep glaciation climate is bound to have. The reason is that our agriculture has developed entirely during the warm period. It is keyed to the present warm climate. We do depend on agriculture for our food. We cannot afford to loose it. This means that our agriculture must be protected against the cold, or else we risk the loss of our own survival. We are the children of the Holocene. We came into the Holocene with a 1-10 million population. Now we are 6.9 billion, and we really don't want to end our journey when the Holocene ends that we have depended on throughout the development of civilization. Nor does our journey need to end.
However, we need to break out of our dependence on the Holocene interglacial warm period. And this is hard, as a concept, because this is all that we have ever known.
Technologically it is easily possible to relocate the portion of our agriculture that would be endangered when the Holocene ends, and place it into protected environments. This comprises potentially three quarters of the present global agriculture. While this adds up to an enormous development project, the technological capability does exist to do this relatively effortlessly. Thus a worldwide development task unfolds before us, which is critical to our existence.
Ironically, however, and paradoxically, this critical aspect has not roused so far the slightest concern, or even an interest.
The reason for this disinterest may be that global warming has been made the big issue.
The Earth is said to be overheating. We are told that industrialization has produced a massive increase in greenhouse gases so that ice caps are said to be melting. All low lands around the world are about to be flooded. In this context the return of the Ice Age is far off the horizon. So, why would anyone be concerned?
However when one begins to look into the Ice Age dynamics, a radically different scene comes to light than the one that everyone has been taught to be scared off. A deception of course, no matter how cleverly it has been implemented, always has tragic consequences as it hides the reality. In the case of the global warming deception, it hides the reality of the approaching Ice Age, which will come upon us whether we are prepared for it or not. Only we are affected by how we respond, whether we respond to reality or deception.
In the light of an honest investigation the Ice Age Challenge is not scary at all. It is extremely interesting. It is also extremely relevant to our present time, because if we would respond to the challenge it presents, it would push us into a frame of economics that would enable us to create a radically richer world for us to live in, in the present, as we prepare ourselves for what is to come as we create the kind of world in which the return of the Ice Age would then have no effect on human living.
However, before we get to that, allow me to set up a conceptional stage for the exploration that is rarely considered.
Allow me to invite you to consider what is really 'normal' about the Earth's climate.
As I have already indicated, the present climate is an anomaly.
The normal climate on Earth, over the last 2 million years, has been for 85% of the time, an Ice Age climate. Only a portion of this is shown here.
The Earth has been in a long extended Ice Age period for several million years already. That's a hard concept to accept. Our normal glaciation climate was once thought to have been in the range of eight to nine degrees centigrade colder than the present average. However, according to the most modern perception of the measurements made, the glaciation climate appears to have been between 15 and 20 degrees centigrade colder than the current average. That's a deep-chilling deepfreeze.
The actual climate anomalies are the remaining brief intervals, covering roughly 15% of the timeframe, in the range of 12,000 to 13,000 years.
The concept is also a difficult one to grasp that the entire timeframe in which our civilization has developed is located in this most recent cyclical holiday from the cold.
It is called 'the Holocene Epoch,' but it really isn't recognized as a holiday because there existed no civilization outside of it, so that the normal climate has never been experienced in the context of civilization.
The transition to the normal climate typically begins with a deep cooling of the Earth. In the context of civilization, this will be a new experience. It promises not a pleasant prospect for humanity unless some far-reaching efforts are made to prepare our world for the consequences of getting back to the normal cold of the Pleistocene Epoch.
Only in the very long time frame of geologic history can the Pleistocene be seen as an anomaly. But for us, during almost the entire period of human development, the climate of the Earth was dominated by the increasing development of the ice ages.
The Ice Age cycles occurred more rapidly in the early part of the Pleistocene, till about a million years ago when the 100,000 year cycles developed, which now define what is normal for the Earth.
Evidence left behind from our 'normal' world, tells us that we had ice sheets covering much of the Northern Hemisphere. When the Earth cools and the snow no longer melts, the snow piles up into ice sheets between 9,000 and 13,000 feet deep. On the American Continent one gigantic continental-size ice sheet extended as far south as the U.S. State of Wisconsin. The water for the immense ice sheets, of course, came from the oceans, which dropped the ocean level 400 feet. That's the kind of world we are moving back into, which is our actual normal world and will likely remain that for the next 10 million years with cyclical warm spots in between.
While it takes many thousands of years for the big ice sheets to form, which today's mountain glaciers are but minuscule examples of, the transition to the cold temperatures happens much more quickly, and long before the gigantic ice sheets begin to form .
The Polish Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski, chairman of the Scientific Council of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw, wrote in a paper in 2003, that the transition period to the deep cold temperatures can be as short as 1 to 2 years, and can begin virtually without warning, or that it might unfold slowly over a span of 50 years. But one way or another, the transition back to the normal glaciation climate will happen. Nothing that we are able to do can stop it. We need to prepare ourselves therefore, for the changes that will occur. And we need to do this quite soon, because no one, not even the Polish Professor, can predict the year or decade when the transition begins.
The professor speaks to us as a world-renowned atmospheric scientist and mountaineer who has excavated ice out of 17 glaciers on 6 continents in a 50-year career. But all that he can tell us from what he has explored, is that the cyclical Ice Age transition is already half a millennium 'overdue.'
He has studied the ice age question for 50 years with intense personal involvement. Evidently he has seen enough not to make predictions. As for the timing he quotes other sources that suggest that the transition may occur between 50 to 150 years from now. However, he points out at the end of his 2003 paper that continuous on-the-ground temperature measurements taken at the Solar Terrestrial Institute in Irkutsk have registered a sharp drop in annual average temperature, beginning in 1998. He suggests, 'The Ice Age Is Coming', and 'Get out the fur coats.'
What about global warming then?
The answer is simple. It isn't happening. It is not possible. It would be wonderful if we could do it. It would be our salvation if we could shut down the Ice Age cycles. Unfortunately manmade global warming is not possible at the present stage.
The global warming hoopla is nothing more than a political dogma. The dogma states that there is too much carbon dioxide, called CO2, in the air, and that CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas, so that too much of the Sun's radiated heat becomes trapped on the Earth, by which the Earth overheats. The reality is in the opposite.
While it is true that the atmosphere around our planet has a greenhouse-type effect that retains the solar heat - without which the Earth would be a giant snowball - it is not true that CO2 is a major factor for this effect, nor is it true that the manmade contribution to the global CO2 pool is large enough to make a difference.
Contrary to political statements, up to 97% of the global greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor, and only 3% by CO2, and of that minuscule amount, the manmade portion is a mere one to two percent, three percent at the most, too little to be of any practical significance for our climate. In comparison, minor fluctuations of the water-vapor density in the atmosphere, have a huge impact on our climate, since 97% of the greenhouse effect comes from water vapor.
The water-vapor density, in turn, is dramatically affected by cloud formation, which is affected by the density of cosmic radiation that is reaching the Earth, which is a major factor of the ionization of the atmosphere. The bottom line is that variations of the cosmic-ray density is one of the most critical factors that determine the climate on Earth.
CO2 is not a major climate factor. It is not a significant greenhouse gas. Its absorption spectrum is limited to extremely narrow bands, which also overlap with the absorption bands of water-vapor molecules that further mask the CO2 effect. In addition, the tree narrow bands were CO2 does play a role, are located at the low-intensity part of the solar irradiation spectrum where the least amount of solar energy is received.
The bottom line is that CO2 does not, and never has, affected the climate on Earth, much less so does the minuscule manmade contribution to the global CO2 pool that some researcher say is as low as five one hundredth of a percent, to possibly a quarter of a percent. And even if the manmade portion was 3%, as some say it is, it wouldn't make a difference.
3% of 3% is a mere 9 one hundredth of a percent, which is insignificant in comparison with the 97% of the greenhouse effect that is caused by water vapor that is massively affected by even small changes in the cosmic-ray density. That's what affects our climate. CO2 is of no practical significance.
As the cosmic-ray density is dynamically increasing, cloud formation is increasing with it, whereby more sunlight is reflected back into space with the white top of the clouds that are a part of the terrestrial landscape. With the thereby increased cloudiness the climate on earth gets progressively colder. At the same time as this happens, the water-vapor density in the atmosphere becomes reduced. As a result, the greenhouse effect is reduced, so that the climate gets colder still. When the process is far extended, it may be sufficient at a point to get us into Ice Age conditions. It is known that during the last Ice Age the cosmic-ray flux was twice as dense than it is today, which may account in part for the deep cold of the glaciation period.
The enormous CO2 concentration didn't prevent the most devastating Ice Age that ever occurred in the history of life on our planet, which coincides with the second-largest extinction of life in the oceans, the only place were life existed at the time. The enormous CO2 concentration had no effect on the climate then, or in the periods following, neither has it today. The historic CO2 trends do however have an enormous significance for us as we approach another deep glaciation period.
The atmospheric CO2 concentration is presently close to the level where biological starvation begins. When commercial greenhouse operators double the CO2 concentration in their facilities they can achieve a 50% increase in plant growth. They also discovered that if they let the CO2 concentration diminish to half, plant growth stops altogether. During historic glaciation periods the CO2 concentration is known to have diminished to such low levels. The resulting food scarcity may be the reason why humanity came out of the last glaciation period with only a minuscule world population of 1 to 10 million people, after 2.5 million years of development.
Since CO2 has been pushed onto the center stage of the political arena, the Polish Professor Jaworowski became engaged in trying to get a sense of reality back onto the CO2 scene. In a 2007 article, he called the present CO2 scene "The greatest scientific scandal of our time."
He does not to suggest with this that the transition to the next glaciation cycle may have already started, as the chance still exists that the cooling process that began in 1998 was merely a temporary fluctuation that may reverse itself. The chance for such a reversal to happen is real, because the cosmic cause for the cooling process lays far beyond the realm of mechanistic certainty.
All this leaves us with the question of how much time we have still left in the current warm interglacial climate. Unfortunately this cannot be answered easily. Nevertheless it is possible to understand the dynamics involved that cause the Ice Age cycles. With this understanding it is possible to look for precursors.