As the currents in the world?s oceans show signs of slowing and the initial phases of sudden climate change become noticeable across the planet, ?The Day After Tomorrow,? the mega-movie inspired by The Coming Global Superstorm is due to hit the screens on May 28.
The movie will excite ferocious controversy. Despite the fact that Twentieth Century Fox is presenting it as a disaster movie, it will be taken as a warning about global warming. Through friends, I have been made aware that the White House considers it important to do what it can to reduce the impact of the film. Therefore, right-wing political commentators and radio hosts will be disparaging it as nonsense, and pointing out the fact that even the most extreme scientific warnings about sudden climate change don?t begin to depict anything remotely like the film.
If Art and I are brought in, it will be to illustrate just how nonsensical the scenario is: it was created by a flying saucer nut and a sensation-crazed denizen of late night radio.
Unfortunately, the reality that is unfolding will only be further obscured by this controversy. For at least ten years, the idea that there is no such thing as global warming has been scientifically untenable. Nevertheless, a false debate, largely funded by energy companies who fear that they will have their activities curtailed, has lulled the public into believing that there is some chance, or even a likelihood, that nothing much will happen.
However, a great deal is going to happen. No matter how it unfolds, we are in the beginning phase of the greatest catastrophe in recorded history. From now on, the climate is going to change in strange, unanticipated and dangerous ways. Undoubtedly, some extremely violent and unusual weather events will take place. Whether or not they will follow the scenario depicted in the Day After Tomorrow is anybody?s guess.
But they most certainly could, as recently discovered evidence makes clear. There is a weather event of an unknown type that takes place during times of sudden climate change. In the past, the bodies of large ungulates were found in arctic areas with their mouths and stomachs still full of the temperate zone foliage they had been eating when, in a matter of minutes or hours, a terrific storm froze them solid, and so fast that they food didn?t get digested, or even drop out of their mouths.
Supposedly. In truth, only around fifty frozen mammoths have ever been found, and most of them were not in the condition described above. But some were, and now there has been a discovery made in Peru that suggests that, no matter what happened to the mammoths, there might indeed be a very rapid, very extreme weather event associated with times like our own.
The lead of a story on Unknowncountry.com published last November states, ?Discovery of a 5,200 year old soft-bodied plant frozen in glacial ice in Peru reveals evidence of a massive and long- lasting climate change that happened amazingly quickly.?
The discovery of this and other such plants means that, at various times in the past, temperate zone plants were covered by ice and snow so fast that they didn?t even get a chance to wither?and that this changed climate, which must have taken place in, at most, hours, then lasted thousands of years.
This discovery should be a clarion call to climate specialists. It represents a puzzle that needs urgently to be understood. Such events happen. The fossil record is, at this point, unambiguous. But could current conditions spark such an event? If so, will it be localized or worldwide? Above all, can we make changes that might prevent it.
Unfortunately, there is further fossil evidence that this is not a localized phenomenon. That comes from the famous Ice Man of the Alps, who was apparently frozen at the same time, and did not thaw out until now. Lonnie Thompson, discoverer of the Peruvian plants, says, “Something happened 5,200 years ago that was abrupt and very large-scale.” But what caused it?and will it happen again?
Sadly, I do not think that we will make the necessary effort to find out. At a time when it is becoming perfectly obvious to anybody who can look out a window that the weather is changing fast, world political leaders remain stunningly indifferent to the situation. Some have committed themselves to the idea that nothing is changing, and must now cling to this ideologically inspired position even though they know it to be mistaken.
Nature has no ideology. In nature, two and two always add up to four. What doesn?t add up now is the false debate about global warming. It is real and it is affecting us. And as far as sudden climate change is concerned?we know that the trigger point is ocean currents. And we also know, thanks to a study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, confirmed by other recent studies, that the all-important North Atlantic Current is slowing down.
Fantastically, this major study by what is arguably one of the most well-regarded oceanic institutions on earth, was roundly debunked on right wing radio as a liberal plot. They forget that Woods Hole was only measuring water flows, and the North Atlantic, at last report, was unlikely to be swayed by politics.
There has been some useful political action. Policy-makers are beginning to pay attention. In mid March, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee sent to the full Senate a bill that would give NOAA $60 million for research into the causes of abrupt change.
It is probably too little too late, because NASA recently announced that satellite measurements of the subpolar gyre, a critical component of the North Atlantic Conveyor, was slowing. Even more telling was last summer?s eerie cold water event along the US eastern seaboard, where summer swimmers as far south as Florida were shocked to find that inshore waters were freezing cold. This was probably because the weakening Gulf Stream was moving farther offshore, allowing cold water to slide down from the north.
There followed a wild winter in the US, and now spring is unfolding in an even more bizarre manner, with a huge blizzard striking central Colorado and record cool and wet weather covering most of the country.
This could well be related to the reduced strength of the Atlantic Conveyor. If so, then it means two things. First, sudden climate change has started and we will never again see what we used to regard as ?normal? weather, not for centuries and possibly not for millennia. Second, conditions exist that are similar to those that brought about unknown violent weather events in the past.
Even if we never see such an event, we can expect late spring and early fall to be times of fearsome meteorological violence from now on. This is because increased cold in the temperate zones will be accompanied by increased heat in the tropics. And indeed, right now, when areas all across the northern temperate zone are experiencing cooler than normal temperatures, tropical areas to the south are already, in April, heating to normal midsummer intensity.
This volatile imbalance is likely to trigger very violent weather in the northern hemisphere as soon as the planet?s tilt becomes enough to counteract the weakened North Atlantic Conveyor, and the hot tropical air mass flows north. Less intense versions of this have taken place in recent years, leading to the appearance of unusual weather features over Europe and North America in recent years. As the situation becomes more extreme, the bizarre weather events will become more intense than they have been so far. How intense, nobody knows.
And that is, of course, the problem.
Meanwhile, energy companies and other lobbying groups will continue to fund candidates and spokesmen in the US who will, even as the situation deteriorates beyond recovery, continue to proclaim that it isn?t happening. And much of the public will continue to believe them, or to be led into ignoring the problem because ?it?s still an open question.?
Sooner or later growing seasons will be affected, and, if some violent weather event has not already done so, this will cause the first great climate change shock as food prices soar and actual shortages appear in the developed world. Meanwhile, of course, the third world will, as always, have taken the first food blow. The bad North American and European growing seasons that will soon be upon us will not immediately affect customary first world abundance. But, more and more, it will be at the cost of third world privation.
In the end, no matter how abrupt climate change unfolds, it will happen too fast to alter farming patterns, and there will come a time of famine, planet-wide, unlike any that has been seen before.
No doubt, those who now scoff at the very idea of sudden climate change and global warming will be the first to proclaim, ?we told you so.?
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