June 26, 2014

Werner and Mary Braun: Global warming

— We’ve been carefully following the global debate about global warming (aka more recently as “global climate change”). Certainly there are significant numbers of folk on both sides of the debate vis-a-vis “Is there global warming? If there is global warming, is it man made?”

It is my sense that there is global warming. Here’s why I believe there is.

The last glacial period, popularly known as the Ice Age, occurred between 110,000 and 12,000 years ago. By the way, this is just the most recent and several preceded that one. During this ice age, the Laurentide ice sheet covered most of Canada and extended in the Midwest as far south as what is now Cincinnati. The area where Detroit is now was covered by ice hundreds of feet thick. The encroachment of the ice was so powerful that it gouged out the Great Lakes. Can you imagine the enormous power generated by the moving ice? It can only be described as an irresistible force. Out west, it gorged out Yosemite Valley and cut Half Dome in half.

An interesting sidebar: It’s thought that during this most recent ice age, the Bering Sea land bridge developed, allowing the migration of both land mammals like the wooly mammoth and the ancestors of native people to populate North America.

Global warming is without doubt one of the most significant issues of our day and clearly should be since it will alter the lifestyles of most every person on Earth at some point. But 180 years ago, most scientists believed that the Earth was in a steady cooling phase, a phase most believed would continue perhaps forever. Interestingly, Dr. Agassiz published a paper in 1837 (Swiss Society of Natural Sciences) in which he stated that the Earth had cooled but was poised to begin warming again. His statement was met with skepticism and even hostility. Sound familiar?

So exactly what has caused these periods of warming followed by subsequent Ice Ages. We know today that the gravitational tug from Jupiter and Saturn periodically elongate Earth orbit and also change the tilt of Earth in its orbit around the sun. This significantly alters the global temperature due to reductions in the sun’s radiation that reaches different parts of the planet.

With so much attention today on global warming, another significant global event related to the sun has been almost totally ignored: the coming of a catastrophic ice age. A Russian scientist, Dr. Abdussamatov, wrote that “the recent inclement weather simply proved we were heading toward a frozen planet.”

Why would he come to that conclusion?

It seems that the sun’s activity has dropped faster recently than at any time in the past 10,000 years. Our sun should be covered with sunspots, flares and coronal mass ejections but it isn’t. If our sun is “falling sleep,” a new ice age is most likely on its way. But don’t start buying winter survival gear just yet since the next ice age probably won’t reach its max for 80,000 years.

As significant an issue as global warming is today, it pales in comparison to the impact that an ice age has on the entire planet. In the last million years, the Earth has experienced 10 eras of spreading ice sheets and falling sea levels. Would the hackneyed expression “What goes around comes around” be inappropriate?


Werner and Mary Braun live in Dalton. He is the retired president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.