Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Too Hot, Too Cold

My four green fields, covered in ice. The end of civilization in Northern Europe, buried under a sheet of ice, the land unable to sustain agriculture or human life.

Sorry, not quite it, actually, say the climatologists. All that mini ice age business? Not to be. They had it wrong. When the global warming crowd terrorized us all with the promise of an impending ice age in Europe, they cited all sorts of computer models that supported their dire predictions of impending doom. Meanwhile, the temperature in Northern Europe stayed warm. A bit warmer than it had been for the previous ten years. Looking rather foolish, the scientists went back to their computers, punched in some new numbers, and voila! A new model. Europe's not going to get colder after all. It's going to get warmer.

The Gulf Stream isn't going to collapse at all. Odd though it may seem now, after all these top notch brainiacs came to their conclusions, the demise of the warm ocean current that keeps Ireland green would be quite impossible. And as long as there is a Gulf Stream, Europe will be bathed in Caribbean warmth. No creeping ice sheets covering Antrim and Leitrim, no frozen farmers out in their frigid fields. Turns out that the North Atlantic Current and the Gulf Stream are quite stable, thank you very much, and the computer models that predicted the end of the world were wrong, wrong, wrong. But the new computer models must surely be correct.

Part of the old theory was based on the notion that melting ice on Greenland (called Greenland because it used to support agriculture) would dump fresh water into the Atlantic, dilute the ocean, and disrupt the Gulf Stream. As it turns out, such an event did happen about 8200 years ago, when our ancestors were merrily burning fossil fuels and pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a tremendous rate. The result was a cooling of temperatures for 160 years. And since it happened once before, it could certainly happen again. We must learn a lesson from our carbon dioxide spewing ancestors, and prevent such a catastrophe. Sure it was carbon dioxide emissions, wasn't it? Couldn't be a natural phenomenon, that warm spell.

Fear not, Europe. You'll not freeze up any time soon. The earth was warmer once, and it's on its way back, in a cycle that we cannot control. Eventually, the climatologists will figure out how to make their computers generate the right sort of data so that their predictions fit in with what is happening and they won't have to flip-flop repeatedly. They're not generating a great deal of confidence if they say one thing today and then say the opposite tomorrow. You might get the idea that they don't actually know anything at all.

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