Mark's environmentsal panic attack

Mark Jones jones118 at
Thu Jun 8 04:03:58 MDT 2000

Jose G. Perez wrote:
> Mark,
>     Why is the end of the present interglacial merely "theoretical"? We've
> got core samples going back close to 500,000 years showing the
> things works
> like clockwork (well, almost).

This the longest Interglacial in the records. There is much speculation
among climatologists that GHG so far released in 250 years of industry have
forestalled it, but only temporarily, because while airborne GHG has
immediate heat-trapping effects, much slower processes are involved before
equilibrium-change can happen. The oceans have proved a great heat-sink and
that has caused atmospheric temperatures to rise more slowly than was first
expected. It takes a century or more for the changes in ocean heat levels to
start having other effects, for example on the North Atlantic thermohaline.
If this is shut off, then there is a danger of climate-flipped which would
result in glaciation across Eurasia; the increase albedo effect would cool
the climate still further, and other processes would begin. It is too soon
to know how it will play out above all because of the terrifying uniqueness
of the human experience. The planet earth had a different atmosphere
hundreds of millions of years ago. It was carbon and methan rich and oxygen
poor. The first simple life forms existed in that atmosophere, which would
poison us; but oxygen would have poisoned them. Ove a very long period of
time, simple life forms did change the atmosphere; they fixed carbon,
trapping it in their calcified shells or falling to the ocean bottom. More
oxygen and less GHG meant a colder planet more suited for mroe complex life
forms to emerge (us). What we did is, we dug up the fossilised remains of
the wee beasties who lived and died so long ago, called it Black Gold, and
rerealsed the trapped carbon into that atmosphere, thus restoring it to a
state last seens several hundred million years ago. We don't know what the
effect will be but we do know that the termohaline has already started to
shut down, so that therefore big climate changes are in store.
>     Now, I don't know about climate flipping, but I DO understand that, if
> people do not change the climate system, all reputable scientists
> agree we'd
> be going back in the freezer just about now, if not this millennium, then
> the next or the one after. And as you noted earlier these changes
> tend to be
> rather sudden. By the time people started noticing and talking about a
> series of unusually severe winters, we'd probably be well on the way to
> Siberia.

Well, the first thing we'd notice would be changes in the ocean heat
conveyor, and that is indeed now happening. Your following remarks show why
you 'distrust the scientific consensus'. I don't think we agree on this. You
are simply dismissinbg the science because you don't like the sound of it.
Of course, there are huge uncertainties and gaps in knowledge and much
controversy, but to dismiss it in this way is wrong. What we know for sure
is that unabated GHG emissions are making the climate more unstable in ways
which threaten the human life-world and biodiversity in general. We cannot
be complacent about that. Because you dislike "catastrophic" and
> "ultimatistic" speculations, you are in danger of ignoring the evidence
that does exist and that is now accepted by an overhwelming majority of
reputable scientists. I would say that your continuing refuals to accept the
known facts about changes in the weather, the fact which is no longer denied
by anyone that mean temperatures have increased, does put you in the camp of
irrational denialists. It isn't newspeople who have been linking weather to
suspected climate change with zero scientific basis or understanding, it is
the scientists themselves. Why are you unready to acknowledge this? You say
>The deluge of misinformation is astounding, especially when  it comes to
"record breaking" summer temperatures or extreme events like hurricanes,
floods and droughts< but far from being misinformation, there is a wealth of
scientific evidence about the facts of these events


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