Greg Goodknight: Will a Little Ice Age reappear? Place your bets | TheUnion.com

Greg Goodknight: Will a Little Ice Age reappear? Place your bets

Other Voices
Greg Goodknight

Tucker Martinez, erecting a straw man to knock down (Other Voices, Oct. 16), "The one answer that nonbelievers love to use against the 98 percent of the scientific community that does believe in climate change is that it has happened in the past and therefore the change being experienced now is just natural fluctuation."

That simplistic opening argument establishes two points … the people who don't "believe" in climate change do so from a position of ignorance, and presents the Big Lie that "98 percent of the scientific community" believes in a catastrophic man made climate change that is a danger to the planet.

No, generally the "climate has always been changing" is what is said when a "denier" is accused of being a non- believer in climate change, and among Earth scientists as a whole (the Doran and Zimmerman survey) and the American Meteorological Society (a survey of their professional membership a couple years ago), it would appear only about half think CO2 so dominates the climate, but we don't know for sure… the question "Is the climate subject to positive feedback warming events from the introduction of CO2 into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels?" has not been asked, possibly because the wrong answer might be given.

Doran and Zimmerman had to throw out all but 77 of the 3,146 responses they had to their survey to get to 97 percent, and at that, I would have answered the questions the same as their 75 of 77… that yes, it's gotten warmer in the last century and mankind had something to do with it. Cook and Oreskes both read the entrails of the peer reviewed literature to invent the 98 percent consensus they found in separate "studies".

Science does not require belief, it requires the scientific method, the most important being argue the facts, not the people.

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Science does not require belief, it requires the scientific method, the most important being argue the facts, not the people. Nullius in Verba, take no one's word.

Another sleight of hand was his suggestion that one should think "the Industrial Revolution" for the start of the sea level rise, and not "the End of the Little Ice Age" of the Maunder and Dalton Solar Minimums, and ignoring the unusually strong solar events of the 20th century that didn't come to an end until about 10 years ago. Some even put the end of the Little Ice Age at the beginning of the 20th century.

A number of solar physicists are using Maunder and Dalton to describe what is expected of the Sun in the coming decades … it used to be expected that the solar doldrums had something to do with the regular freezing over of the Thames in Winter. Some still expect the sun's lack of sunspots, an indication of solar magnetic energy, did have a role in driving the Little Ice Age.

"[T]hat sea level increase, in the last two decades, is double what it has been the last century."

The rate of increase has been up and down but is currently right on schedule … to also rise a foot in the next 100 years. Not five or 10 feet. One foot.

"What that doesn't tell you is that the increases in sea level will continue and that cities at, or below, sea level will be submerged in water and uninhabitable"… and that doesn't tell you that over the last couple of years there has been a trend of sea level decrease, as measured worldwide by the JASON-3 satellite over the last two years and that while the sea level is right on the trend line, it would be an article of faith to believe it would reverse and continue to rise at 3.4 millimeters per year… or continue down. I don't know and neither does Mr. Martinez.

"This doesn't tell you that the warming oceans are directly causing more hurricanes which are also more severe."… but there hadn't been a hurricane landfall in the U.S. in the last decade before the current season and the hurricanes that have wreaked havoc in the last month have not been the strongest on record.

"These quick facts don't tell you that the carbon dioxide levels never reached higher than 320 ppm before humans started pumping out greenhouse gases"… which is just wrong, as mammals first emerged in an atmosphere with five times the CO2 (about 2,000 ppm) we have now, and it was two or three times that near the beginning of the Phanerozoic era, when the entire planet was all but frozen over in a Snowball Earth episode. Planetary processes predate the Industrial Age and plotted over the last 540 million years, the link between CO2 and temperature is very, very weak.

Will a Little Ice Age reappear in the coming decades? Place your bets.

Greg Goodknight lives in Nevada City.