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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Watch For Glaciers

I've had it. I'm sitting at the office in sweatpants and a jacket. It was 51 when I went out to take the dogs for a walk at 6:20 this morning. This is the third day in a row the low has been about 50. This is ridiculous.

I guess global warming has had its day and now we all have to nervously watch the northern horizon for the first sign of the oncoming glaciers. Don't tell Al - he'll get all hysterical about it.

The great thing about global warming is it can't be proven or disproven by observation. When there's warm weather, it's global warming. When there's cold weather, it's global warming. When there's drought or too much rain, it's global warming.

I do not doubt the earth is in a warming trend right now. But it also seems to me that there has never been a moment in the history of this planet that climate stood still and every temperature everywhere on earth, along with rain levels, remained at their "proper" or "rightful" levels.

Who's being simplistic here?
Well - it's us. Human beings may know rationally that the earth's temperature has fluctuated greatly even within the last thousand years, but to us the "proper" temperatures are the ones we grew up with.

I'm just laughing at human beings. We deserve it.
M-o-M, are you old enough to remember the "Global Cooling" scare of the early Seventies?

At the time, paleoclimatologists checking out Antarctic ice core evidence found that ice ages started more abruptly than previously believed. (On the order of a century instead of several millenia.) At the same time, global temperatures were in a slight cooling trend.

This sparked "GLOBAL COOLING! THE NEXT ICE AGE IS ON THE WAY!" I remember scary TV documentary specials about "One year, the winter snow will not melt. THAT is how IT BEGINS!" And talking-head scientists and activists Demanding the Government (and/or the UN) DO SOMETHING! They were proposing deliberately supercharging the atmosphere with greenhouse gases to warm the planet and use of nukes to melt the Coming Ice Sheets through nuclear heat flash. WE HAVE TO STOP GLOBAL COOLING! NOW!

And now, according to such Important Message movies as Day After Tomorrow and midnight guests on Art Bell, we KNOW what REALLY causes an Ice Age -- GLOBAL WARMING! GLOBAL WARMING! GLOBAL WARMING!

(Incidentally, the movie DOES show a plausible mechanism for starting an Ice Age; just they condensed the time frame from a couple centuries to a couple days (36,525-to-one) and increased the intensity by about the same factor. Even the Wurm Glaciation -- the largest known Ice Age for 600 million years -- wasn't that intense; during the last Ice Age the Mojave, Sonora, and Sahara deserts were fertile grasslands.)

The Headless Unicorn Guy
Headless, I sure do. I was born in 1961. My fourth-grade teacher brought it up in class, the NY Times was bleating about it, Congress held hearings about it, scientists everywhere filed grant proposals to study the terrible threat, and the media carried dire articles about the end of civilization.

My father laughed loudly, pulled out some books and proved to me that the current temperatures were warmer than they had been in the previous century, much less the 1800s.

My mother laughed and told stories about the weather when she was a child, and when her grandfather was child. One benefit of rural existence is that they do carry forward the memory of weather patterns and when and what you can plant, etc.

The furor went on until it became clear that we weren't cooling down any more. A brief pause ensued, and then we launched into the fund-raising campaign for global warming.

By 2025 I expect to see scare articles about the next Ice Age, and the grant proposals will have shifted back to the dire threat of ice. The same changes that occurred back before the last really cold time are happening now. The winds are going to shift down around the northern hemisphere. Al Gore will still be insisting it was caused by global warming.

Only urban populations get hysterical about weather before it even happens.
A bud of mine in Pennsylvania has to live in a house that was built during the Global Cooling Scare of the Seventies. No A/C, no ventilation, everything done to build up and hold in the heat.

Do you know what summer in the Lehigh Valley is like? Steambath, except no Puerto Rican attendant who says he's God. He pretty much has to shut down his life during the summer or hang out where there's a building with A/C.

The Headless Unicorn Guy
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