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Earth Space Science

No, We're Not Headed For a New Ice Age 473

purkinje writes "Unusual calm in the solar cycle — called a solar activity minimum — has sparked claims that the Sun will cool the Earth, leading us into a new ice age. While Europe did experience a Little Ice Age during a solar activity minimum three centuries ago, the connection between sunspots and climate is a lot more complicated, and it's unlikely this change in the Sun's activity will cool Earth down — or even affect the climate at all. Plus, any cooling that might come from this would be less than the global warming that's been going on. So don't pull out that parka yet; a new ice age seems more than unlikely."
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No, We're Not Headed For a New Ice Age

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  • We're already in one (Score:5, Informative)

    by japhmi ( 225606 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @12:48PM (#36476334)

    We're currently in an interglacial period of the current ice age, so it's not a matter of moving towards another one, but how long the interglacial period will last, and how if we're moving into a glaciation period will humanity be effecting that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Exactly. Since there is ice on the poles of Earth, we are technically in an ice age. Individual periods of unusual cold or icing are called glacial periods.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 )

      Not entirely true. Climate is chaotic in nature and can be likened to the "owl mask" of the Lorenz atrange attractor system, with glaciation being one orbit and inter-glaciation being the other. But if you displace the system too far, the system will lock onto a very different set of strange attractors and very different orbits, none of which are guaranteed to be glacial in nature. The problem with chaotic systems is that you can't ever know what "too much" means in advance, you can only ever know when the

    • We're currently in an interglacial period of the current ice age, so it's not a matter of moving towards another one, but how long the interglacial period will last, and how if we're moving into a glaciation period will humanity be effecting that.

      I don't know how things have turned out since, but about a decade ago there was an article in Scientific American by someone who said yes, there's some cooling going on, but there's also the warming, and at present the warming is out-forcing the cooling. We'd be warming more quickly if the interglacial wasn't coming to an end, or cooling if not for what we've done to the atmosphere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 17, 2011 @12:53PM (#36476398)

    Of course we are not headed for a new ice age. You can't have an ice age without mammoths.

    Nobody is working on cloning mammoths, right?

  • I've always found people who go on and on about global warming extremely annoying. They talk about saving the earth and the environment but the bottom line is it's about saving the status quo. There have been times in earths history when it was much hotter than it is now and much colder. Humans will survive and so will the earth. If or when the last man bites the dirt the earth will still be here live in kicking unless we managed to do something really bad like strip away the atmosphere.
    • by Mage66 ( 732291 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @01:13PM (#36476688)

      Just so. How do we know that any set of conditions in the climate is optimal?

      Maybe optimal is a degree warmer. Maybe not.

      Squandering trillions of dollars in wealth and productivity just to maintain the status quo seems silly.

      I like Bjorn Lomborg's approach which is to spend that money on clean water, medical care, and feeding the hungry instead. As well as simply moving people out of areas that might be impacted.

      We can save more lives, and vastly improve the quality of lots of poor that way, rather than chasing a fraction of a degree of temperature rise.

      • A couple degrees of temperature rising can inundate a coastal city. That's not going to be "optimal". Stopping global warming was never about keeping summers from getting a little too uncomfortable. It's about global catastrophe caused by ecological and environmental upheaval.

        • by Mage66 ( 732291 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @01:58PM (#36477538)

          Not going to happen. We've seen about a tenth of a degree warming in the first half of the 20th Century (now reversed), that occurred LONG before the rise of automobiles and factories adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

          Every prediction I've read about how much temperature change that the draconian measures would reverse are similarly in fractions of a degree over a period of a century.

          Human activity just isn't affecting the climate all that greatly.

          Any predictions of climate change on the level of several degrees is just scare-mongering.

          It's not supportable based on what we've observed thus far. In fact atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased by about 8 percent or so since the mid-1990s. According to climate alarmists, this should have caused measurable global warming. But none has been observed.

          Human activity may indeed affect global climate, but it's like pouring a thimbleful of dye into a swimming pool.

      • This whole line of reasoning seems plausible on the surface, until you actually do some research into it.

        It's not a matter of optimal, it's a matter of what we're used to. Radical, rapid change in climate (such as we're already experiencing, and it'll get much worse) changes rainfall patterns and other factors that will force us to change where we build our cities, where we grow our food, etc. That kind of adjustment is incredibly expensive, much more expensive than taking reasonable mitigation steps now

    • by magsol ( 1406749 )
      Putting aside for the moment whether or not I agree with global warming itself, you seem to harbor a patently false understanding of what exactly these "global warming alarmists" are after, because it's anything *but* maintaining the status quo. Changing entrenched lifestyles, adopting new and largely inefficient technologies, and taking the big oil companies and the entire infrastructures that support them out of the game is most assuredly *not* maintaining the status quo. Unless you were using status quo
      • I'm using the status quo here in reference to the current climate of the earth. Not political status or anything like that.
    • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

      True. The earth will still be around. Life will almost certainly still be around, although the environment will be very different. Worse has happened before. Humans will probably still be around, as we're pretty good technologists. We sure as hell may not like the transition period, though. Sure, we're being greedily protective of the status quo, but that's because large-scale climate change will be very, very expensive.

    • Well, I don't think you can ignore a lot of the facts about how temperatures are rising and how that is correlated with CO2 concentrations. []

      Now, from a particular Carlinesque viewpoint we are a "minor surface nuisance" and yes the Earth will survive, even as scientists predict when the Sun becomes a Red Giant near the end of it's Nuclear Cycle and it is reduced to a rock floating in space, the Earth will survive. It just wouldn't want to be a place where I

    • It's fine with me, it's just trillions of dollars in government money not my money.

  • They are extremely pro AWG. They may be right but they only show one side of the picture. There is no room for debate in their eyes. I wonder if they are heavy invested in carbon dioxide credits.
  • by gearloos ( 816828 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @01:03PM (#36476556)
    I'm not believing anything until Al Gore says it's so.
  • I would hope he actually meant LESS than unlikely. I would also hope that next time the editors spot the mistake and correct it.

  • Trollololololo (Score:3, Informative)

    by Silverhammer ( 13644 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @01:09PM (#36476634)
    The writer of TFA is a well-known AGW advocate who routinely trolls everyone who isn't as pro-AGW as him, with all the charm and humor of a drunk fratboy. If you want to have serious discussion about this, find someone else to link to.
  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @01:11PM (#36476656)

    ...or even affect the climate at all.

    Not going to cause an ice age? OK, fine, that I believe. A significant drop in the source of nearly all heat for the planet not causing a change at all? Well now.

  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @01:12PM (#36476672)

    In the summary (emphasis mine):

    ...has sparked claims that the Sun will cool the Earth...

    The Sun does not cool the Earth, nor did anyone claim that such was a possibility. It may simply warm it less, should the recent concerns pan out, but cooling it is out of the question. It's a giant ball of fire in the sky, not a giant A/C unit in the sky.

    • Damn, I was just about to say the same thing. How in the world could the sun cool the Earth? Unless someone accidentally flipped the switch to reverse?
  • From the linked article:

    Note: a lot of this is taken from my book ... where I interviewed approximately a bazillion people.

    This man is not a serious writer.

  • So an author (not a solar scientist) of a book writes a blurb for an online story with his opinion and refers to his book as proof?

    Some of the NASA and other solar scientists are saying their is some probability of a lull in Solar Output based on the science evidence and models they form. Proof, no, not yet. But there are reasons to consider it possible.

    More science observations and correlations will come in the next few years.

  • I'm VERY SKEPTICAL of those computer modelers who claim to have sufficient climate data to validate their models!!!


  • Is this just a setup for the upcoming Asylum film "2012: Ice Age"? []

  • That global warming (increased CO2 in the atmosphere greenhouse effect) could cause a new ice age. The melting of greenland and other arctic ice could upset the salinity of the north atlantic current and if that current stopped northern europe would freeze.

  • I'm tired of seeing that stupid squirrel [] anyway.

  • Why can't we discuss the risk of a coming ice age without it having to be a refutation of an unstated argument about its impact on global warming? Can't we just discuss it on its own merits?

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