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Ice age

Posted by Richard on February 16, 2007

They’re having fun at Al Gore’s expense over at

Gore claims that global warming is an immediate problem facing the United States and the world, and places like New York and Chicago could feel like Caribbean haunts.

If there is any doubt that God has a sense of humor, it has to be dispelled by a headline in Wednesday’s Drudge Report: "House hearing on ‘warming of the planet’ canceled after ice storm."

He followed up with this: "Save it for a sunny day: Maryville Univ. in St. Louis area canceling screening of Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ because of a snowstorm."

Author Phil Brennan went on to critique Gore’s climate-change thesis at length. He brought up some things I knew and some that were new to me. For instance, I knew that the last ice age ended about 12,000 years ago, and that we’re about due for another. But I didn’t know about the correlation between ice ages and CO2 levels:

As for that dreaded greenhouse gas, CO2, atmospheric levels of which now exceed 400 parts per million (ppm), it is important to note that paleological records show that every time CO2 levels have exceeded 300 ppm there has been an ice age. Every time — without exception.

I also didn’t know that the current interglacial warm period might end quite suddenly:

In 1979, Genevieve Woillard, a pollen specialist in France, concluded from detailed studies that the shift from a warm, interglacial climate to ice age conditions at the beginning of the last ice age, some 100,000 years ago, took "less than 20 years."  …

If the unchallenged results of the work of Woillard and others who studied past ice ages are any indication of the pace of glaciation, once it starts, the transition period is a mere 20 years or so. And we may be well into that 20-year period now. Woillard estimated that the period before that final 20 years — when the earth began gearing up for an end to the interglacial period — could be as long as 150 years and as short as 75 years.

Of course, it’s worth remembering that correlation does not imply causation, and past performance does not guarantee future results. But what if we’re about to freeze, not bake or drown? Robert Felix, author of Not by Fire but by Ice, thinks so, and he’s got a ton of links to supporting evidence and studies. I’ve barely begun to poke around, but the information about dropping sea levels alone is fascinating. Check it out.

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