Questions and Answers

Not by Fire but by Ice



Questions & Answers

Hi. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact me at In the meantime, here are a few of the questions that I've been asked during my radio interviews around the country:

But first this: I have received several complaints that my web site is biased, and that I don't give enough coverage to global warming. Here's one of the polite complaints:

Complaint: "I look forward to purchasing Not By Fire But By Ice as soon as I can. However, the real reason I wrote to you is to give you some advice. I appreciate the many informative articles and climate facts that you include on the site, BUT record low temperatures and high precipitation do not indicate that there is an ice age imminent. They simply are weather anomalies that should be expected in the world of weather." Dean 

Answer:  I agree with you that record low temperatures and high precipitation do not necessarily indicate an imminent ice age. However, when you put these weather anomalies together with the ice-age cycle (which is the main thrust of the book), you'll see why I think today's record lows and high precipitation are so important.  

As to bias, by the time someone visits my web site they've already been inundated with enough misleading information about "global warming." Very few newspapers or TV shows bother to mention the undisputed ice-age cycle. I feel no obligation to help them continue the oversight (or deception, or whatever you want to call it).

And now to the more questions.

Q. Can you give us a brief overview, Robert, of just what your book is about?

A. I’m saying that the next ice age could begin any day. And when it begins it will begin with a bang, practically overnight. People in the north will be buried beneath vast amounts of snow (two stories, three stories, six stories of snow, in one day) while the south will be hammered by ever bigger storms . . . just as is happening today.

Q. What evidence do you see that an ice age is imminent?

A. Look at the headlines. Snow in Guadalajara. Snow in Mexico City. Snow in South Africa. Record snows in Vermont and Washington states. Snow in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. The coldest December in Moscow since 1882. Record cold and snow in Australia. The worst ice storm ever in Quebec. The worst ever!

Q. But what about global warming?

A. Global warming is a myth. Most of the things we see happening to our weather lately have nothing to do with global warming. They’re part of a natural cycle. The fact is that ice ages recur in a dependable, predictable cycle that’s about to repeat itself. The next ice age could begin in our lifetimes.

The cycle was discovered in the 1970s by a group called CLIMAP (Climate Long- Range Investigation, Mapping, and Prediction). They looked at deep sea cores for the past 500,000 years. During the last half million years, they found, ice ages have begun or ended, abruptly, just like clockwork, about every 11,500 years.

Q. I almost hate to ask this, but when did the last ice age end?

A. That’s the problem. The last ice age ended almost exactly 11,500 years ago. Which means that the next ice age could—no, I say should— begin any day.

Q. Okay, let’s say that you’re right, that today’s storms are part of a natural cycle. But still, what causes the cycle?

A. It has to do with our warming seas . . . El Niņo, in other words. Ocean temperatures, at least in the  Pacific, have been warming for several decades.  

And I know, I know, we seem to blame everything on El Niņo lately. But doesn’t anyone wonder why each El Niņo seems to be getting worse?

I think it’s part of the ice-age cycle.

We’ve forgotten that this isn’t the first time that our seas have warmed. Ocean temperatures also shot upward some 10o to 18oF about 11,500 years ago just prior to the glaciation that killed the mammoths . . . the same as they’re doing today.

Q. This sounds like global warming.

At first glance, it does sound like global warming. That’s where I think today’s scientists have missed the boat.

I think it’s caused by underwater volcanism, not by humans.

As our seas warm, more and more moisture rises into the sky. Then it condenses and falls to the earth as giant storms and blizzards, the kind of storms and blizzards we’ve been getting lately. That’s what El Niņo is all about.

My question is, what happens when that moisture begins falling in the winter?

Instantaneous ice age.

And that’s what I’m talking about.

Our seas, heated by underwater volcanism, are leading us directly into the next ice age . . . and we don’t even know it. I think we’re in for the biggest rash of El Niņos in 11,500 years.

Q. What makes you think that underwater volcanism is the culprit?

A. Well, scientists have known for years that peaks in volcanism correlate with glaciation.

Just prior to the period of glaciation that killed the mammoths, for example, volcanism increased dramatically. In Alaska and Siberia, large amounts of volcanic ash are interspersed through the piles of mammoth bones themselves.

Q. Does volcanism send so much ash into the sky that it blocks out the sun?

A. That’s what scientists thought at first. But then they discovered that there’s not enough ash in the stratigraphic record to have done the trick.

But I think they missed an important, little-known fact about volcanism. According to experts at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), 80% of all volcanic activity occurs underwater. For every volcano you see erupting into the sky, in other words, four volcanoes of equal size should be erupting into the sea. (With new knowledge about underwater volcanoes, this ratio has increased dramatically in the past few years.)

Q. You make it sound as if an ice age could begin almost overnight. But didn’t we learn in school that ice ages begin slowly, over tens of thousands of years?

A. We learned wrong. In 1987 a research project called GRIP (Greenland Ice Core Project) began drilling deep cores into the ice in central Greenland. They drilled almost two miles deep, deep enough to reach ice that formed 250,000 years ago.

When they analyzed the cores, they found that every ice age during the past 250,000 years—and there were many—began abruptly.

Q. What do you mean by abruptly?

A. The climate descended from periods of warmth such as today’s—let me repeat that, from periods of warmth such as today’s—to full-blown glacial severity in less than twenty years. Perhaps in less than ten.

I want people to hear me on this. This is not theory. This is fact. Ice ages begin incredibly fast, and they do it from periods of warmth such as today’s.

You do not need cold weather to cause an ice age! During the very depths of the last ice age, the tropics and subtropics were only four degrees colder than today. Temperatures in the equatorial rainforest belt remained much the same as today.

Q. Let’s put this in today’s terms. How cold would it have to be— today—for an ice age to begin?

A. It’s cold enough right now to cause an ice age, said Maurice Ewing, one-time director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. All we need is more moisture.

And that’s why today’s giant storms concern me. We’re getting the moisture that Ewing was talking about.

Think about what would happen in the north—without lowering the temperature even one degree—if you increased the amount of precipitation. Let it snow two feet a day for 30 days, and you’d have 60 feet of snow! Six stories!

Actually, all you’d need is for a mere two feet of snow to remain on the ground in the north during one entire growing season. Shut down the breadbasket of the world and millions of people would die of starvation.

Ask the people in Grand Forks, North Dakota, who just lived through a winter with the most snowfall on record, and then a 500-year flood. They’ll tell you what too much moisture in the winter can do.

Q. Do you see any evidence of too much moisture?

A. Look at the floods. Worldwide flood activity is at it’s highest levels since the Middle Ages. Japan, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Portugal—in more than 30 countries around the world, flood activity is the worst in 500 years. Same in the United States. Record rains in Minnesota, California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, the list goes on and on.

Twelve inches of rain in Kentucky in one day. Sixteen inches of rain in North Carolina in  one day. This is global warming?

Q. Couldn’t it simply be a case of better communications; simply that we’re being bombarded with so much news from around the globe that it only seems as if storm activity is worse? Couldn’t it be our imaginations?

A. It’s not our imaginations. According to Thomas Karl at the National Climatic Data Center, the number of what scientists call extreme precipitation events—blizzards and heavy rainstorms—has jumped almost 20% in the United States just since 1970.

Q. So you’re saying that today’s record-breaking rainstorms and floods are an indicator of an ice age?

A. Absolutely. Go back to that 16 inches of rain in North Carolina in one day. My question is, what if it had been cold at the time? What if that rain had fallen as snow?

When weather forecasters try to predict how much snow will fall if a rainstorm should turn to snow, they simply add a zero. One inch of rain, therefore, translates into 10 inches of snow. (Or more, if it’s fluffy.)

So Kentucky’s 12 inches of rain (add a zero) would have been 120 inches of snow. Ten feet. And North Carolina's 16 inches of rain would have been 160 inches of snow. Thirteen feet. One-and-a-half stories. 

And that’s the point of my book. Two stories, six stories, nine, you pick the number, the point is that vast amounts of snow killed the dinosaurs, vast amounts of snow killed the mammoths, and vast amounts of snow—at least in the north—will soon kill most of us. It’s all part of the same natural cycle.

Q. What makes you think that underwater volcanism is heating our seas today?

A. It has to be. After all, above water volcanism, like flooding, is the worst in at least 500 years. (This comes from Dixy Lee Ray’s 1993 book Environmental Overkill, and is confirmed by the Smithsonian’s 1994 book Volcanoes of the World by Tom Simkin and Lee Siebert.)

If NOAA’s 80% ratio is right, shouldn’t underwater volcanism also be the greatest in 500 years?

The facts point that way. In 1993, marine geophysicists found 1,133 previously unmapped underwater volcanoes near Easter Island. They’re packed into an area of about 55,000 square miles, about the size of New York state.

They were shocked. Until then, scientists had thought there were about 10,000 underwater volcanoes in the entire world. Finding 1,133 new ones—especially in such a small area—blew them away.

Closer to home, in 1993 scientists discovered a four-mile-long underwater rift volcano, called Coaxial Volcano, off the coast of Oregon about 270 miles west of Astoria.

In 1996 they discovered another one—six miles long—off the coast of Newport, Oregon. And just a couple of months ago they found yet another between the two.

Q. And didn’t an underwater volcano recently erupt near Hawaii?

A. Yes. You’re talking about Loihi Volcano, which began erupting late last year. It’s the largest underwater volcano in the world, and we weren’t even monitoring it. This is going on right now! Underwater volcanoes are heating our seas, and they’re leading us directly into the next ice age.








Order Book l E-Mail Robert l Book Reviews l Table of Contents l Radio Interviews l Excerpts l Plant Hardiness Zone Maps l Author Photo l Press Release l Pacemaker of the Ice Ages l Extent of Previous Glaciation l Ice Ages and Magnetic Reversals l Crane buried in Antarctic Ice Sheet l It's not Global Warming, it's Ocean Warming l Expanding Glaciers