During this active hurricane season, we are witnessing the importance of resilience – the ability to be flexible in adapting to natural disasters. SEPP Chairman S. Fred Singer has an article emphasizing the importance of preparing for the next Ice Age and suggests approaches.
Humanity evolved in the tropics during an era of intense climate change; when long, ice ages gripped much of the, now, temperate regions of the earth. Civilization came forth after the last major ice age, which ended about 12,000 years ago, the Pleistocene Epoch. Singer argues for experiments to develop techniques to moderate the next ice age, be it a major or a minor.
Singer argues for two classes of cooling periods: 1) major ones which are driven by orbital mechanics, the Milankovitch cycles; and 2) minor ones which are far shorter and driven by solar cycles, changing activity of the sun. Numerous minor cooling periods occurred during the current warm period, the Holocene. As seen during the Little Ice Age, with famine, disease, and death, even minor cooling periods can be disastrous for humanity and civilization. Some astrophysicists assert we are entering a period of a quiet sun, indicating a cooling period, akin to the Little Ice Age.
Singer’s analysis is based on his assertion that ability of carbon dioxide (CO2) to absorb infrared radiation from the earth is reaching saturation. Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere will do little to protect the earth from cooling. Earlier laboratory experiments by the US National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and many other groups bears this out. The absorption features of CO2, and other greenhouse gases, are highly logarithmic, diminishing rapidly with additional units.
Subsequently, the 1979 Charney Report published by the National Academy of Sciences claimed that the minor influence of CO2 in the atmosphere may be amplified by increased water, resulting in an increase in atmospheric temperatures through the release of latent heat by the condensation of water vapor. The Charney Report contained no data, laboratory or observational, supporting this assertion. As discussed below, subsequent data advanced by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers may have significant issues, including the emphasis on surface data that is influenced by many human activities, unrelated to CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.
To counter minor cooling periods, Singer suggests experimenting with releasing water vapor in the tropopause, the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere, at an altitude of about 12 kilometers (40,000 feet). To counter major cooling periods, Singer suggests that once advancing ice is confirmed, releasing black soot onto polar summer ice may help prevent wide-spread glaciation.
No doubt, Singer’s proposals will be highly controversial, and many individuals will express outrage. However, that is the cost of expressing imaginative ideas in a highly politicized world.
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)