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A Clarrification

February 23, 2010

A brief apology is due to you readers in that I intended this blog to discuss many topics, not just AGW issues.  Some of my lack of original comment is due to being lazy, although I also have too much to do with work.  There have been a number of very good topical pieces on the discussions on AGW and the science (or lack) in regards to “cooking the books” of late and I have been generously copying them here.  Anyone reading this blog might get the impression that I am “rabidly” antiAGW or a “skeptic” with regards to climate issues.  Actually I am a vehement skeptic with regards to human influence via CO2 on global climate issues  and rabidly against hiding contrary evidence to the orthodoxy.  The “climategate” scandal shows us how far from perfect some that have invested so much effort and resources into a scientifically flawed viewpoint can fall.  My main point is not full-scale denial, but that there is no proven  scientific evidence that the impending disaster is anything but a fantasy created by models  or worse, manipulation of the “facts” for personal or political gain.

Actually many scientifically important findings have fallen out of the 20  or so years of research that have given us geoscientist’s  a better look at the recent past and  fodder for further investigation and reasoned discussion.   One very important fact is that there have been sudden and rapid climate changes (rapid being on the order of perhaps 10 years or less) of significance in the recent past (last 10,000 years) and that we have no good mechanism to account for these rapid changes.

Geologists have been aware for a very long time that the Earth’s climate has varied significantly (both warmer and cooler) in the geologic past.  Tthe intense investigation of the past 10,000 years, as an outgrowth of the work on climate “change”,  has shown that localized (or even regional) climate changes are perhaps more common than we ever previously thought.   The most striking of these tend to be the times where sudden cooling occurs.   Cold, after all, has much more of an impact on us humans than does warm.  Consider the famous Austrian “Ice Man”, the Chalcolithic age man (mummy) uncovered by melting ice in the Austrian Alps in 1991 (There are others such as teh Peruvian ice “mummies (for example).  The subject of intense scientific study, the remains of the man were preserved via entombing of his body by rapidly advancing glacial ice (without which his remains would have likely been devoured and scatered by scavengers).  The entombment was through the rapid burial by snow and ultimately ice and would have had to take place rapidly (likely within one winter, perhaps one long winter) .  The area where he died was, at that time, an area partially or mostly ice and snow free (a result of the Minoan Warming event – see next post); it is now part of the Schalstal glacier.  It took almost 3,500 years for his remains to melt out of the ice and found.

The burial by the ice is a case of very rapid change in the local climate in an extremely short time period.  Historical documents that show that Alpine villages were abandoned during the “Little Ice Age”  as ice and snow forced the residents further down valleys.  Some accounts report of such rapid ice advance that areas were abandoned within one season.     During the Pleistocene Glacial Maximum [around 20,000 years before present], sea level was as much as 100 meters below our current high stand.  Humans lived on what is now underwater shelf areas off the east coast of NA. (Massachusetts in particular) .

Graphic from NOVA. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/)

Early humans supposedly crossed the Asian-North American “land bridge”  as populations spread from Eurasia to NA (this land bridge now submersed under the Bering Sea).    These represent dramatic changes of the land (and climate) and which, were well before there were enough SUV’s to cause any “climate change”.  How would we Moderns deal with such dramatic changes we have observed in the past especially if these changes are rapid?   These investigations have great societal significance in planning or abating future climate related issue (both warmer and cooler) .  These are the types of discussions we should be involved in, NOT the backbiting, name calling scrum that has become the “climate” debate.

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