[extropy-chat] ECO: Global warming will not start ice age..
mlorrey at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 16 22:30:30 UTC 2004
In support of my arguments a few months ago, several scientists have
come out to blast assertions by a recent Pentagon report, as well as a
soon to be released movie, that claims that global warming will trigger
an ice age within a few years.
Scientists stirred to ridicule ice age claims
19:00 15 April 04
NewScientist.com news service
Climate scientists have been stirred to ridicule claims in an upcoming
Hollywood blockbuster that global warming could trigger a new ice age,
a scenario also put forward in a controversial report to the US
The $125-million epic, The Day After Tomorrow, opens worldwide in May.
It will show Manhattan frozen solid after the warm ocean current known
as the Gulf Stream shuts down.
The movie's release will come soon after a report to the US Department
of Defense (DoD) in February predicting that such a shutdown could put
the northern hemisphere into a deep freeze and trigger global famine
within 15 years.
But in the journal Science on Thursday, Andrew Weaver of the University
of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, surveys the current research
and concludes "it is safe to say that global warming will not lead to
the onset of a new ice age".
The DoD's doomsday scenario, which is very similar to that in the film,
was drawn up by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of the San
Francisco-based Global Business Network. Neither is a climate
The scenario suggests that as global warming melts Arctic ice packs,
the North Atlantic will become less salty. This would shut down a
global ocean circulation system that is driven by dense, salty water
falling to the bottom of the north Atlantic and that ultimately
produces the Gulf Stream.
This much is respectable scientific theory, and some researchers
believe it could happen for real in 100 years or so. But the
film-makers and DoD authors go further.
They say it could happen very soon. And that if it did, the northern
hemisphere would cool so much that that ice sheets would start to grow,
creating a catastrophic new ice age.
This is too much even for sympathetic climatologists. Stefan Rahmstorf
of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, whose
own models say the Gulf Stream could shut down within a century, told
New Scientist: "The DoD scenario is extreme and highly unlikely."
And Wallace Broecker of Columbia University, New York, US, who has
warned for two decades that the Atlantic circulation is "the Achilles
heel of our climate system", seriously questions both the speed and
severity of the changes proposed.
In a letter to Science, he accuses the DoD authors of making
exaggerated claims that "only intensify the existing polarisation over
global warming". He adds: "What is needed is not more words but rather
a means to shut down CO2 emissions." Such action could avert any Gulf
Stream shutdown in the next 100 years.
Schwartz defends his scenario, saying that while it is "not the most
likely scenario, it is plausible, and would challenge US national
security in ways that should be considered immediately".
Weaver notes that the movie's budget "would fund my entire research
group for my entire life, 10 times over". That might even allow him to
discover which scenarios are most plausible.
But there are no sour grapes. "I will be one of the first to see the
movie.," he says. "It'll be the Towering Inferno of climate - extremely
entertaining." It will not confuse the public, he thinks, but it will
not help them understand climate science either.
Chairman, Free Town Land Development
"Live Free or Die, Death is not the Worst of Evils."
- Gen. John Stark
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