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Dr. Velasco Herrara  (Source: Reuters)
A "little ice age" in our future?

Previous DailyTech stories have detailed recent cooling experienced by the planet, and highlighted some of the scientists currently predicting extended global cooling.  Even the UN IPCC has stated that world temperatures may continue to decline, if only briefly.

Now, an expert in geophysics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico has added his voice to the fray. Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at UNAM's Institute of Geophysics, has predicted an imminent period of cooling intense enough to be called a small ice age.

Speaking to a crowd at a conference at the Center for Applied Sciences and Technological Development, Herrera says the sun can both cool and warm the planet. Variations in solar activity, he says, are causing changes in the Earth's climate.

"So that in two years or so, there will be a small ice age that lasts from 60 to 80 years", he said. "The most immediate result will be drought."  Herrera says satellite temperature data indicates this cooling may have already begun.

Recent increases in glacier mass in the Andes, Patagonia, and Canada were given as further evidence of an upcoming cold spell.

Herrera also described the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as "erroneous". According to Herrera, their forecasts “are incorrect because are only based on mathematical models which do not include [factors such as] solar activity".

Herrera pointed to the so-called "Little Ice Age" which peaked in the 17th century, as a previous cooling event caused by solar fluctuations.

Herrera made his remarks at UNAM, located in Mexico City, is the oldest university on the North American continent.



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RE: Another contrarian - so what?
By MarcLeFou on 8/20/2008 5:09:54 PM , Rating: 2
The fear of Global Warming is not that we'll destroy Earth. It's that we destroy our way of life and, in doomsday scenarios, a good chunk of our species.

I think there is a global warming around us right now. Whether its man-made or not is another debate but the planet definitely is warming up. Let's just take what we can quantify and measure : ice deposits in the Arctic and Antarctic. Since we've focused our attention to it in the last decade, its been shown the ice that hasn't thawed for Millenniums according to analysis is now melting at a faster and faster pace. This would seem to indicate a trend toward global warming.

The thing is, once we reach a certain average temperature, other mechanism supposedly spring to life which would release huge quantities of methane gases in the atmosphere and methane is a much more potent warming gas than CO2.

I believe the source were two distinct BBC shows but there supposedly is massive quantities of methane gases trapped in ice in the Russian artic lakes which is starting to show signs of melting a bit further each year. As well, the Ocean's would supposedly release tens of Millennium's worth of absorbed methane once a certain global temperature is met (don't recall the exact one but I believe it was between a global average of 0,5 and 1 centigrade - which is a pretty steep hike to be fair) which would in effect start a cascade of temperature hike as more and more methane is released through higher and higher temperatures.

Given these observations (and theories), I believe that whether man-made or not, we should without a doubt try to stabilize the climate to prevent a grave impact on our way of life. We're certainly far off from that capability right now but it is something that will be needed in the future to preserve and expand our way of life.

It is going to be needed knowledge down the line once the next ice age hits and if we ever want to be able to Terraform other planets so why not get a head start and start research into it now ? It might also allow us to better understand our ecosystem and be able to prevent abuse to it and to be able to exploit it more efficiently in other areas which would benefit all involved and create new commercial opportunities.


RE: Another contrarian - so what?
By Ringold on 8/20/2008 8:27:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The fear of Global Warming is not that we'll destroy Earth. It's that we destroy our way of life and, in doomsday scenarios, a good chunk of our species.


You're incorrectly mixing conclusions from different fields of inquiry. Many economists have taken IPCC's data, and conclusions about what it could do to the environment, and then applied econometric analysis to it to determine its impact on we humans. The two, environmental and economic impacts, are quite different. Global warming or not, in the future we're still going to be far more wealthy than we are today. The only debate is the impact it will have on growth, not if it'll "destroy our way of life." Well, compared to what it could be in the future, it might, but the way you say it makes it sound as if the world would go in to reverse. That wouldn't be the case.


RE: Another contrarian - so what?
By MarcLeFou on 8/20/2008 8:50:53 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I see the two as being intertwined.

The two problems that would have the biggest impact is a change of temperature would affect flora and fauna in a big way, thus severely disrupting our food chain and, as glaciers melt because of increased temperature, sea level rises and coastal cities get flooded. As most big cities in the world are in coastal areas, most production capacity in the world would get wiped out along with the cities.

Obviously, the unknown factor here is the amount of time these changes would occur under. Would it be a 100+ years affair where we would have time to forecast, move production and adapt agriculture to a new climate gradually or would it be a self feeding system where we reach a point where each increase in temperature feeds off itself (with methane gas being released in the atmosphere speeding the process further until all methane is released) and a drastic change happens in 1-2 years and basically send the economy back to the dark ages.

Obviously a scenario closer to span of 30 years would seem more plausible to me so we should have limited time to adapt but I do wonder how far back it would send us technologically (with most modern infrastructures such as power plants needed to be rebuilt) and, by cause of effect, economically.


RE: Another contrarian - so what?
By Ringold on 8/20/2008 9:12:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Obviously, the unknown factor here is the amount of time these changes would occur under.


As I said, analysis has been done based on the IPCC's worst-case scenarios. You're now talking about unforecasted catastrophes leading to unexpected changes. Yeah. A rogue asteroid could annihilate us all ten minutes from now. I would suggest sticking to the IPCC and analysis based off of it, otherwise you're spreading FUD, which is no better than what you would accuse others of doing. You wouldn't be biased, would you?! :P


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