Pravda: The coming Ice Age

Plenty of people e-mailed me the latest from Pravda, a warning that the Earth will shortly enter a new Ice Age and that we’d all better start learning from Minnesotans how to deal with cold weather …. really cold weather.  Those who think global warming is bunk might enjoy the cold schandenfreude of glaciation, but I’d say this theory suffers from the same problems that Goreism does:

The earth is now on the brink of entering another Ice Age, according to a large and compelling body of evidence from within the field of climate science. Many sources of data which provide our knowledge base of long-term climate change indicate that the warm, twelve thousand year-long Holocene period will rather soon be coming to an end, and then the earth will return to Ice Age conditions for the next 100,000 years.

Ice cores, ocean sediment cores, the geologic record, and studies of ancient plant and animal populations all demonstrate a regular cyclic pattern of Ice Age glacial maximums which each last about 100,000 years, separated by intervening warm interglacials, each lasting about 12,000 years.

Most of the long-term climate data collected from various sources also shows a strong correlation with the three astronomical cycles which are together known as the Milankovich cycles. The three Milankovich cycles include the tilt of the earth, which varies over a 41,000 year period; the shape of the earth’s orbit, which changes over a period of 100,000 years; and the Precession of the Equinoxes, also known as the earth’s ‘wobble’, which gradually rotates the direction of the earth’s axis over a period of 26,000 years. According to the Milankovich theory of Ice Age causation, these three astronomical cycles, each of which effects the amount of solar radiation which reaches the earth, act together to produce the cycle of cold Ice Age maximums and warm interglacials. …

The central piece of evidence that is cited in support of the AGW theory is the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph which was presented by Al Gore in his 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth.” The ‘hockey stick’ graph shows an acute upward spike in global temperatures which began during the 1970s and continued through the winter of 2006/07. However, this warming trend was interrupted when the winter of 2007/8 delivered the deepest snow cover to the Northern Hemisphere since 1966 and the coldest temperatures since 2001. It now appears that the current Northern Hemisphere winter of 2008/09 will probably equal or surpass the winter of 2007/08 for both snow depth and cold temperatures.

The main flaw in the AGW theory is that its proponents focus on evidence from only the past one thousand years at most, while ignoring the evidence from the past million years — evidence which is essential for a true understanding of climatology. The data from paleoclimatology provides us with an alternative and more credible explanation for the recent global temperature spike, based on the natural cycle of Ice Age maximums and interglacials.

If I had to pick one theory to cheer, it would be global warming.  At least it provides more hope for agriculture and sustenance.  A new Ice Age would limit the land on which we could grow food and lead to massive starvation. I’m also disinclined to put much trust in Pravda on any story, given its history of propaganda and deception.

Unfortunately for global-warming enthusiasts, Pravda at least has the mechanisms correct.  They correctly state that the release of CO2 comes from warming, and not the other way around.  The fact that the world has gotten cooler over the last decade and especially in the last two years demonstrates that CO2 doesn’t have the greenhouse effect predicted by computer climate models based only on the last 1000 years.  Instead, Pravda rightly notes that real climatology has to account for much longer-term modeling and that the “hockey stick” graph, already discredited, provides no real insight into true climate change.

But for the same reasons, I doubt that a new Ice Age sits around the corner from present day, nor does Pravda actually report that it does.  We are working in “ridiculously narrow” time frames for discussion of global warming or cooling.  What we’re seeing is weather, and humanity has little to no impact on it.  The recent cooling and the expansion of polar ice should make that clear, and we should return to more pressing issues — such as rational energy policies that improve standards of living rather than seek to return us to some imaginary pre-Industrial Age nirvana.