Not by Fire but by Ice



The National Review wrote a fine review of this article on February 26. It begins thusly: 

"When a "scandalous" story breaks in the United States, makes no waves, resurfaces a few weeks later in the left-wing British press, and only then do liberal activists start haranguing people about it, it is safe to say that the story should be treated with a little suspicion." See the rest of the review at:


“Climate Collapse: The Pentagon’s Weather Nightmare”
On Jan 26, Fortune magazine ran a lengthy article about the Pentagon’s concern over the prospect of dramatic cooling. This could lead to longer, harsher winters in much of the U.S. and Europe.

The article admits that such collapses have occurred in the past, and even goes so far as to admit that “Clearly it wasn’t humans and their factories” that caused the previous collapses. But then it blithely proceeds to pin the blame on “global warming” (caused by humans).

I strongly disagree. It’s not global warming, it’s ocean warming (see above), and it’s part of the ice-age cycle. It’s a cycle! It’s a cycle! It’s a cycle! 

The article also implies that sea levels will rise and inundate huge areas of the world. I disagree with this one, too. As the weather gets colder and the ice sheets grow, sea levels must inevitably fall. That’s where the moisture comes from to create the huge ice sheets; from the oceans. (During the last ice age, sea levels were 370 feet lower than today.)

Toward the end of the article, it says, “the climate record suggests that abrupt change is inevitable at some point, regardless of human activity.”

Now I agree with those words, “regardless of human activity.” And I agree that the Pentagon should be very concerned about climate collapse, but please, don’t try to tell me that humans are at fault. They’re not. It’s all part of the ice-age cycle.

To see the full article, go to:,15114,582584,00.html

Here's part of the article, with my comments:

The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare
Monday, January 26, 2004
By David Stipp

"The seemingly remote risk of climate collapse may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it.

"The threat that has riveted their attention is this: Global warming, rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. (I think it's ocean warming, not global warming.) Growing evidence suggests the ocean-atmosphere system that controls the world's climate can lurch from one state to another in less than a decade—like a canoe that's gradually tilted until suddenly it flips over. (I agree.) Scientists don't know how close the system is to a critical threshold. But abrupt climate change may well occur in the not-too-distant future. (I agree.) If it does, the need to rapidly adapt may overwhelm many societies—thereby upsetting the geopolitical balance of power. (I agree.)

"Though triggered by warming (I disagree, it's ocean warming), such change would probably cause cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to longer, harsher winters in much of the U.S. and Europe. (I agree.) 

"Climate researchers began getting seriously concerned about it a decade ago, after studying temperature indicators embedded in ancient layers of Arctic ice. The data show that a number of dramatic shifts in average temperature took place in the past with shocking speed—in some cases, just a few years.

"The eastern U.S. and northern Europe, it seems, are warmed by a huge Atlantic Ocean current that flows north from the tropics—that's why Britain, at Labrador's latitude, is relatively temperate. Pumping out warm, moist air, this "great conveyor" current gets cooler and denser as it moves north. That causes the current to sink in the North Atlantic, where it heads south again in the ocean depths. The sinking process draws more water from the south, keeping the roughly circular current on the go. (I agree.)

"But when the climate warms, according to the theory, fresh water from melting Arctic glaciers flows into the North Atlantic, lowering the current's salinity—and its density and tendency to sink. A warmer climate also increases rainfall and runoff into the current, further lowering its saltiness. As a result, the conveyor loses its main motive force and can rapidly collapse, turning off the huge heat pump and altering the climate over much of the Northern Hemisphere. (I agree that increased rainfall is the culprit, as does Joe Bastardi, chief meteorologist for Accuweather.)

"Scientists aren't sure what caused the warming that triggered such collapses in the remote past. (Clearly it wasn't humans and their factories.) (I agree, I agree, I agree: Clearly it wasn't humans.) But the data from Arctic ice and other sources suggest the atmospheric changes that preceded earlier collapses were dismayingly similar to today's global warming. As the Ice Age began drawing to a close about 13,000 years ago, for example, temperatures in Greenland rose to levels near those of recent decades. (I agree, and humans had nothing to do with it.) Then they abruptly plunged as the conveyor apparently shut down.

"Though Mother Nature caused past abrupt climate changes, the one that may be shaping up today probably has more to do with us. In 2001 an international panel of climate experts concluded that there is increasingly strong evidence that most of the global warming observed over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities—mainly the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which release heat-trapping carbon dioxide. (I totally disagree. It's all part of the ice-age cycle.)

"Robert Gagosian, director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, urged policymakers to consider the implications of possible abrupt climate change within two decades. (I agree that it could happen that quickly. In fact, I think it has already begun.)

"For planning purposes, it makes sense to focus on a midrange case of abrupt change. A century of cold, dry, windy weather across the Northern Hemisphere that suddenly came on 8,200 years ago fits the bill—its severity fell between that of the Younger Dryas and the Little Ice Age. The event is thought to have been triggered by a conveyor collapse after a time of rising temperatures not unlike today's global warming. 

(The article goes on to describe some of the ramifications of climate collapse.) "The changes relentlessly hammer the world's "carrying capacity"—the natural resources, social organizations, and economic networks that support the population. Technological progress and market forces, which have long helped boost Earth's carrying capacity, can do little to offset the crisis—it is too widespread and unfolds too fast.

"As the planet's carrying capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern reemerges: the eruption of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies." (I agree. As I say in Not by Fire but by Ice, I think we'll be fighting in the streets for food long before we're covered by ice.) 

To see the full article, go to:,15114,582584,00.html



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