Watched a rather scary show on the Science Channel last night that was discussing the possibility of a new ice age triggered by global warming. One ‘scientist’ on the show said that there is as much as a 50% chance(!) that within the next 6 decades there will be no sea ice during the summer…and that this will cause the great ocean conveyor to completely stop. What this will mean seems to be (at least as far as the show went) still up in the air, but the consensus on the show is that this would trigger a new ice age (sort of like the movie The Day After Tomorrow…at least it appeared to be saying similar things).
Ok, so I have no idea if this scary prediction is real science or standard TV sensationalism…I just don’t know enough about the underlieing science. I have to admit that the idea that global warming will trigger an ice age doesn’t seem intuitive to me, but I can see how if it DOES shut down the flow of cold and warm water that it at least seems plausable.
For debate though I’d like to assume for a moment that it WOULD trigger an ice age…and a bad one. What would be the effect of this? How rapidly would it happen (the show never did answer any of these questions)? Could humanity survive? Could modern civilization survive? Could we use our technology to not only survive and continue but…is there anything we could do about it (once it starts)?
Not for debate but for my own education, how plausable is this? What effect would the accumulation of green house gasses have on this situation? After all, if the global temperature is rising, how would this effect an ice age? In the past (I assume) when there were ice ages I assume there wasn’t also massive amounts of green house gasses at the same time.
Another quick question I had from the show (again, not necessarily for debate but for my own education) is that they claimed that the relative climate stability we have had for the past few centuries is actually a huge anomoly…that at almost no period in (geological) history has the climate been so mild AND stable for so long a period. Is this true? I always thought that the earths climate in the past had extremely long periods of stability punctuated by (relatively) short period (again, in geological time) of fluxuation. Wasn’t the climate stable for millions of years during the dinosaur periods for instance?