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Discussion > Forget CO2, we have far more important things to consider

This week my little old brain is bursting with the new ideas and new information I have tried to input but now I can dump large amounts of it hehe.

Unfortunately that is what we have done and we need to change that ASAP.
CO2 has no effect on the regular and large climatic changes which the earth experiences, it does not cause them and it can not prevent them. Our scientists do not understand the mechanics or the causes of these changes but they do know that they happen. Yes we think that Milankovitch cycles are part of the explanation but they do not explain everything and to be honest; understanding why it happens is the least of our worries.
Until today I believed there were basically three climates that earth experiences, but although three is the correct number, I got the descriptions wrong.

HOTHOUSE is a climate where temp is about 10 deg C warmer than today and there is no ice and there are no glaciers (sea levels are much higher)
ICEHOUSE is a climate where the whole planet is covered by ice sheets at least a mile thick.
GLACIAL PERIODS are interludes in the ICEHOUSE phase and the ice sheets retreat to cover only Northern europe and Northern Asia (not sure about the southern hemisphere).

ICEHOUSE PERIODS have lasted several hundred million years.
GLACIAL PERIODS have lasted several million years.

We have established our civilisation in an INTERGLACIAL PERIOD.

INTERGLACIALS happen during GLACIAL PERIODS, they usually happen every 100,000 years and last about 10,000 years. This INTERGLACIAL (the Holocene) has already lasted at least 12,000 years.
It must be the case that the Holocene is nearing its end, so what happens next? Well Wiki says that scientists say the current Ice Age shows no sign of ending in which case we would return to Glacial conditions and goodbye Northern Europe for a while hehe. WE may of course return to ICEHOUSE and if the scientists have it wrong then the world may get pretty hot.
Rhoda has made the point that we can probably adapt to HOTHOUSE and in the UK in particular; who would object to a Mediterranean climate? However if we return to GLACIAL or ICEHOUSE then although some small groups of individuals would survive, our civilisation and probably our knowledge would be destroyed.

For as long as the earth is man's home we seriously need to change the way we live; we need to get ready to live underground as fast as possible. It would take a long time to move all our homes and our industries underground although we would have access to the surface for lots of reasons. With no guarantees from our scientists as to future climate I do not see any choice.
I expect this to be rubbished by most so please do go ahead ^.^

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:59 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Over the years I sometimes thought about a return to a glacial phase of the climate. In my opinion much more likely than any other scenario. If I understand thing correctly, sea-levels in a glacial phase are about 400ft lower than current levels. This increases land area in various parts of the world, Australia and parts of Indonesia being a single landmass for instance. Japan having or nearly having a land bridge to China. So land lost to ice might well be totally regained as a result lower sea-levels. Not that this would prevent conflict.

So with ingenuity in plant and energy technology I'm pretty confident that a human population in the billions could survive a "normal" glacial period. Whether many of the current populations of Northern Europe and North America would survive is debatable. The tundra at the edge of the ice sheet although not much use for food production could well be used for manufacturing of machinery and equipment used for food production in the tropical areas.

I've no real proof but I think that precipitation would be reduced and extracting and transporting water from the ice sheets might become a major activity, probably easier and cheaper than De-salination.

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

By the time of the next glaciation we will have the much longed-for One World Government so the boss people will be able to assign bits of newly exposed dry land to those of us displaced by the ice.
In line with normal practice (vide USSR, EU, Zimbabwe, and others) where you are allocated to will be determined mainly by who you know and how much you are prepared to pay for your residence permit which can be withdrawn at any time.
War will, of course, be a thing of the past since perfection will have been reached. After all with one beneficent government looking after the well-being of all what need is there for dispute. (Remember, there were no unions in the Soviet Workers' Paradise because there was no need for them and Pangaea will be even more perfect.)
Population will naturally have to be strictly controlled since the food supplies available when tools are limited to one spade and one fork between three and one rake between five will not support the 50 billion people that (history books tell us) were responsible for the runaway global warming that tipped us into this disastrous (sorry) much more benign climate by their insistence on eating whatever they liked including (don't tell the children) animals!.
Fortunately cows, pigs, and sheep will also be things of the past and just as well because their methane emissions would almost certainly destabilise the climate and lead to another round of intense activity as scientists scrabble for grant money look for ways to eliminate whatever may turn out to be the excuse of choice next time round.

Feb 23, 2015 at 9:10 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


Shame on you for mocking my serious suggestion hehe. However your own scenario is not realistic. In the absence of the Northern USA, Northern Asia and Northern Europe; world government would be based in Beijing ^.^

Feb 23, 2015 at 11:35 AM | Registered CommenterDung

If it's as close as 100 years away there isn't a thing we can do except think about it. If it's ten thousand years we can't even imagine the world at that time, except to know for 100% certain sure that somebody, whether human or not, will be using the crisis to justify central control of everything..

Feb 23, 2015 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda


I agree that 100 years is 'probably' not enough time and also that we have no idea what the world will look like in 10,000 years.
However we can not prevent the changing of the orbit of the Earth around the sun or the orbits of the other planets closest to us in the solar system. We are 'unlikely' to be able to do that even after 10,000 years. The geological history of glacials and interglacials pretty solidly tells us that we will either have a full ice age or another glacial within the next 2000 years.

Something that really surprises me about the people who regularly visit this blog is that there is only a small minority who actually care whether the human race survives or disappears. I tried to make a discussion about the human race needing to get off this planet/make settlements on other planets; in order to make sure we survive. Of the few who responded the majority did not care and a few others just thought it was science fiction junk.

If we return to full ice age within a couple of thousand years (and nobody can tell you that it will not happen), the whole planet may be covered in ice a mile thick; not conducive to any kind of life on the surface. I do not believe that it will be possible to move billions of people off world in such a short time so what is the alternative to planning to live underground?
If we return to a glacial period then the underground option would at least reduce the chance of countries battling over space on the surface.
I would be grateful for any suggestions as to how we keep mankind safe but I think that as usual otherwise highly intelligent people will still ignore this thread hehe.

Feb 24, 2015 at 12:29 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I stick with my prognosis that an Iceage similar to the last few wouldn't on its own mean the end of the human race. The possibility of moving elsewhere within a couple of hundred years is unlikely. 500+ years out who knows what technologies will be available, Nor do we know what the human population will be. Hopefully the Ecomentalists will have failed and health, wealth and well being will be the norm for most of the population. The brief period of population exp;osion which every nation experiences when infant mortality is reduced and society takes a couple of generations to switch from 20 births per couple to 2 births per couple.

It's interesting that the last two winters in North America which have been pretty severe, near record amounts of ice on the Great Lakes, have been most severe over the area covered by the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the last glaciation This might be a cause for concern.

If you want to scare yourself then regular visits to are recommended. Also reading stuff like this might worry you.

Feb 24, 2015 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Thanks SandyS :)

My memory is so bad these days, I had been following the solar cycles quite closely and then got totally distracted by the recent politics :(
I followed your first link and had that wonderful feeling: "thank god its not just me" hehe.
Based on what you said though I wonder if you are making the same mistake that I was making until recently?
Before this interglacial we were in a "Glacial Period", not an "Ice Age".Like the "Interglacial Period" it is a brief interlude in a much longer phase: an "Ice Age". The two main climates which the earth experiences are "Hothouse" and "Ice Age" and both of these can last for many hundreds of millions of years. "Glacial Periods" last for a few million years and Interglacial Periods for about 10,000 years.
It is not a great leap of faith to suggest that the coldest periods occur when the sun is in a solar minimum, when the earth's orbit is at its most elliptical and when our position on that ellipse is at a point farthest from the sun.
What was disappointing on your linked website was that the mechanism by which the solar cycles affect the climate was not discussed.
The idea that sun spots indicate changes in temperature is widely known but as far as I know there is only one theory that deals with the mechanism. Svensmark is the only scientist to attempt to explain the mechanism and he is not popular because CO2 has no place in that mechanism hehe. Without boring you with the details; his theories suggest that we are entering a very long cold period.

Feb 24, 2015 at 3:07 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I'll see if I can dig up some more links. From what I remember the "snowball earth" has only happened a couple of times, and even that is open to debate. Also in very rough terms the Glacial periods last about 100-150K years and inter-glacials (warmer periods in the current cold period of earth's history) about 10-15K years. But some inter-glacials are missing. Compared with all of Earth's history the current inter-glacial periods aren't particularly warm.

Like a lot of my interest in these things, my interest was originally piqued by a radio programme, which claimed the original, or at least early, work was carried out in a Czech Brick Works; unless my memory is confusing things.

Feb 24, 2015 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I found the name of the researcher and the Brickyard, the date is good too as I would have heard of the work in the 1970s.

By about 1968, research on loess deposits shed more light on the pulsebeat of climate. It turned out that loess deposits are not the result of just one glaciation. They sometimes contain a record of many glacial cycles. Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery describes the investigations of a geologist name George Kukla in 1968 at a brickyard quarry on Red Hill near the city of Brno in Czechoslovakia:

Feb 24, 2015 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


Great info mate hehe. So far I have followed the corior.blogspot link and I read the first 33% in total then I did a speed read on the rest.
Again I suggest that we are being led astray by a confusion between Ice Age and Glacial in these papers. The earliest time period mentioned in the blogspot paper was about 2 million years ago but within that period it mentions multiple ice ages. There was no ice age during the last 2 million years, this was a Glacial Period. The paper talks about advancing and retreating ice sheets but never about planetary ice sheets; it is all about Glacial Periods not Ice Ages.
I will read the rest of your links mate :)

Feb 24, 2015 at 9:01 PM | Registered CommenterDung

For clarification, what you mean by a Glacial Period is the "current" situation where there are ice-sheets at the poles and where there is permanent snow at high altitudes, both altitude and latitude. We are still in a glacial period despite reduced ice cover? In terms of the Earth's history I guess you are technically correct.

In these papers and to most people we're in an inter-glacial period where the ice has retreated to higher latitudes and altitudes. The Iceage is when the ice sheets have advanced to lower altitudes and latitudes. Hence the "Little Iceage" during which there was an advance just not as far as has happened in the full glaciation periods. For my lifetime I have followed this nomenclature, which is what most published papers do.

I think there are two questions, with regard to glaciation and what will happen in the future.

1. What causes/caused a part of the planet to have permanent ice cover
2 What causes periodic advances and retreats.

Is the second and how we deal with it is what you're interested in?

There may be more than one factor in each, in fact it is almost certain there are. For our immediate future finding the major cause of advances is more important than wasting time, money and effort looking in to CO2 and its affect on climate.

Have I got that about right?

Feb 24, 2015 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS



What I understand to be a Glacial Period is when Thick ice sheets move down over much of the northern hemisphere and cover Northern Europe, Northern Asia and the Northern USA.
AS you pointed out; we are in an Interglacial Period NOT a Glacial Period.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:23 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Thought that this item from Steve Goddard might interest you. Especially as the BBC is the source in 1975. There's also a video clip I'm the comments which is interesting as well

Feb 27, 2015 at 8:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandys


I would be grateful for any suggestions as to how we keep mankind safe

I don't really think mankind deserves to be kept safe at the moment, so I suppose you can put me
in with the fatalistic crowd.

There's nothing inherently unscientific about the technicalities of getting to other planets etc. or even
of shifting earth orbit - I expect this is something we could even do now given enough resources,
let along within 10,000 years - e.g. we could alter earth's orbit by dislodging a few large asteroids to
have close approaches with earth to impart some orbital energy, for example.

It's the quality of our civilisation I doubt is worth saving. The Enlightenment seems to be guttering
out. All over the world, people care less and less about the search for knowledge and art. The majority
of people don't care about the great questions. We are little more than animals, clever animals with
opposable thumbs, but not much more between the ears.

Not worth saving, in my opinion.

Feb 27, 2015 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


Glad you made that post ^.^ You have hit upon some ideas that we agree upon which makes a refreshing change from recent months hehe.
I totally agree that man is just a clever animal, unfortunately his tiny pile of accumulated knowledge has gone to his head and he now thinks he knows everything.
However; man is nowhere near the finished article, he is still learning to walk and he bumps into things and breaks them which is truly irritating -.- Man picks up sparkly looking new ideas and plays around with them, he does not have a parent race to tell him;"put that down son, its bloody dangerous". Man has to learn all by himself but he does not have an endless amount of time to learn.
I think the brilliant Douglas Adams must have had human civilisation in mind when he conjured up a whale in the atmosphere of a distant planet. The whale is thundering towards the surface of the planet and as it impacts the surface it has just figured out what it is and where it is.
Human civilisation is thundering towards either a new glacial period or a new full ice age and has not yet figured this out let alone found an escape route.
I do however think man is a plucky little guy who can improve and achieve some great things in time, I would like him to make it :)

Feb 27, 2015 at 12:37 PM | Registered CommenterDung


As for surviving an ice age, man has learned to adapt to most earth habitats even without high technology - there are native peoples living within the arctic circle right now who don't have much technology and still manage to survive. I don't have any doubts that humans can and will survive another glacial, we've survived hundred already - but will our society and civilisation survive is the pertinent point.

I think the most telling aspect will be how quickly the glacial comes on, these things look dramatic on a graph with an X axis measured in ticks of thousands of years, but the reality will likely be a very slow creep. The tundra line will creep southwards, pushing agriculture towards the Mediterranean, but this will be expressed in generational stories of crop failure and migration that's no different from modern ones, like the Okies in the 20s.

I don't believe it will ever happen. We will have complete mastery of the earth's climate long before then. Just because the modern crop of 2nd rate climate scientists have no clue, I don't believe this will always be the case, just like the physicians of only 200 years ago were stabbing you with sticks and letting leeches suck on you, but this doesn't mean modern medicine was not in the future. Someday, we will understand climate, and be able to control it.

Feb 27, 2015 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

The history of humans is a series of rises and falls, with a general progress to greater development of well being. There is no reason to think that there isn;t a step backwards in the near future, without an iceage to focus the mind. The potential for the current religious friction to end up with a result similar to the effect Sea People/Peoples of the Sea/Sherden had on Bronze age civilisations is quite high in my opinion. Again probably more of a threat than CO2.

Being an optimistic person I think that humans will survive in one way or another. Nor do I think the current situation is that bad, given the choice of living now and any other time in human history I think I'd choose now. To me that is progress, although people in some of the slums of the developing world might think differently, but I seriously doubt the majority would. The option of a a Green Utopia just round the corner doesn't hold any attractions.

The rejection of Nuclear Power by the majority can easily change when faced with a life and death choice. I liken the problem to my children and grandchildren's diets. One is a vegetarian, one won't eat fish and the grandchildren are more selective. I tell them it is only wealth that allows such choices, if or when the nation becomes too poor then they'll quite happily eat all the things they reject now, as the other option is to die.

As previously stated a large icesheet over the northern hemisphere is compensated by lower sea levels and more land elsewhere. The human population works well under the pressure of life or death situations, note how technology takes quantum leaps in times of war.

But I do worry that we might end up in a perfect storm of approaching Ice and religious conflict (Sea Peoples) coupled with Greens in control.

If an Iceage lasts 100K years then the humans that make it into the next interglacial will be very different from those that came out of the last.

Feb 27, 2015 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


You touch on another aspect of modern society which I think it part of our problem at the moment.

As much as we like to seek out peace and harmony and think they are admirable ways to run
society, ALL of mankind's advances are brought about by struggle or some sort. We have only
gotten to where we are now because of a series of struggles against an inhospitable environment,
then the dog-eat-dog world of the animal kingdom, disease and eventually internecine struggle
against other tribes of man.

Part of what I believe is the "problem" with current society is that we are 70 years away from a
real existential war, we've conquered most of the major killer diseases, and the gradual shift to
a more equal society means people (by and large) no longer starve if find themselves out of work.
Nuclear power came out of the war effort. The moon landings came out of the cold war. We
are stagnating because we have no real threat or personal danger any more. When communism
fell, so did our desire to strive for advantage.

Mankind thrives under the pressure of existential threat. I believe this is what drives the Millenariast
cult of AGW. Because we have no problems which can unite and inspire us, one had to be invented.

Unfortunately for the cult, AGW is not the one we should have been worried about. Whilst we were
squandering our money on a fake threat, militant Islam and a regressive Soviet mindset has arisen to
fill the gap of the greatest confrontation of the next century IMO. Soon enough we'll have to be striving
for all our worth.

Feb 27, 2015 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Forgot to add: So in summary, I think we thrive under existential pressure. If the ice age cometh.... bring it on!

Feb 27, 2015 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

We need something to divert the human race from pressing the one step backward button fairly soon. Religious fanatics of modern and traditional religions are taking us to hell in a handcart in short order.

Feb 27, 2015 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I find more and more agreement with BYJ and less and less with SandyS, this is not good hehe.

SandyS and BYJ

Ice Age (10% of the total life of the planet and lasting as long as 200 million years) is a planet encased in ice a mile thick!
Our civilisation is not coming through that unless we spend a long time making preparations. I doubt that individual humans or small groups have any chance so maybe the end for the human race.

SandyS It is Glacial Periods that last about 2 million years but are interrupted by Interglacials every 100k years and right now we are at the end of an Interglacial Period but we do not know if we head back to ICE AGE or GLACIAL PERIOD.


Totally agree that mankind is at his best when he is threatened but he has to recognise the threat in order to react. Preparing to survive an ICE AGE is going to take maybe 1000 years (if we want the population to survive) so I would like to see us stop pratting about with global warming and start reacting to the real threat.

Feb 27, 2015 at 8:54 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Neanderthal survived in the part of Europe not under the ice for about 100k years. They.managed this without developing technology much further from the stone hand axe. So it's my view that if Neanderthal man can do it then we should be able to do it. Which isn't to that we will. We have a lot ok knowledge on how to produce energy and from that to produce food.

Remember one of the problems we have with extreme weather events = AGW is that most people think that if they haven't experienced it then it's never happened before. Also my children think that Oil Seed Rape has been grown forever, whilst I can remember the discussions over the bright yellow fields that started appearing from nowhere. What I'm trying to say is that people are very good at believing a changing world is unchanging. This is a good survival mechanism as it helps the endeavour of surviving serious environmental changes. The Sea Peoples, the fall of the Roman Empire, the fall of Mayan Empire and Black Death all caused a step backwards in many respects. But what emerged afterwards was a step forward. All of these events were unexpected and unplanned for whereas with an ice-age there is plenty of advanced warning.

The mile thick ice was water at one time, therefore the oceans sea level will fall by a considerable amount, much of the exposed land is in the current tropical zone. This will be the area least hostile to survival. So unless there is a snowball Earth or we self destruct (which doesn't require an ice-age) then there is a good chance we'll survive and continue evolving

Feb 28, 2015 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandys


We are still not talking the same language :)

1) SNOWBALL EARTH = ICE AGE= one of the two most common states of our climate

2) If parts of EUROPE, THE USA AND ASIA are ice free then the earth is experiencing A GLACIAL PERIOD NOT ICE AGE. GLACIAL PERIODS ARE BRIEF INTERLUDES IN AN ICE AGE lasting up to 2 million years each.

3) Our climate is AN INTERGLACIAL PERIOD WITH ONLY THE POLES REMAINING ICE BOUND. This is the rarest, the most uncommon climate the earth ever experiences, accounting for only 10% of GLACIAL PERIODS.


The available papers on this subject have changed since I last investigated it. In particular the Wiki page is now word for word identical to the page on the WOODS HOLE INSTITUTE page. I now can not be sure of my facts, sorry :(

Feb 28, 2015 at 11:55 AM | Registered CommenterDung

that's a pity, i was quite enjoying the research.

The Snowball Earth is quite interesting. So I might continue the search for information.

I did discover an article where the cooling effect was put down to the O2/CO2 ratio being close to unity. This caused cooling which is something people say about CO2 that it actually cools the climate. Again something worthy of more research (on my part).

Feb 28, 2015 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS