Climate Crisis Journal

Impending Crisis

Andy Caffrey for Congress 2010

Giving the Democrats a chance to Vote Green

No One Knows What To Do
About The Climate Crisis
as Well as Andy Caffrey Does

For over one hundred years, industrial societies have mindlessly pumped extraordinary quantities of heat absorbing gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and CFCs into Earth's shallow atmosphere. Comparable degrees of change in the delicate balances of these gases have triggered the onset and collapse of Earth's ice ages for over two million years. The temperature, sea level and carbon dioxide levels at the onset of the last ice age 120,000 years ago were similar to what they now are today, when abruptly, in a one hundred year period the earth's sea level shot up 20 feet and the plummeted 50 feet in a cataclysm unimaginable to humanity. Today, 89% of the earth's glacial ice sits stored in the Antarctic continental ice sheets and ice shelves which extend over the ocean, two to three miles thick. The west Antarctic ice sheet is delicately anchored to land 700 feet below sea level, sitting on active volcanoes, and containing 12% of Antarctica's ice volume. For decades scientists have postulated that this ice sheet could suddenly break up and disintegrate as ocean and air temperatures increase and release enough water into the oceans to cause a 20 foot sea level increase in less than twenty years.

Earlier this year, scientists studying coral and limestone records of sea level changes over the last several hundred thousand years discovered that the last ice age, 120,000 years ago began during a one hundred year period in which the earth's sea level shot up twenty feet, and then plummeted fifty feet. The temperature, sea level, and carbon dioxide levels were almost identical to the same levels humanity has created during our current industrial era. At the end of the ice age, 100,000 years later, as the enormous ice sheets of the northern hemisphere were melting back for a few thousand years, a tremendous volume of fresh water broke loose from some glacial barrier and diluted the North Atlantic Ocean enough to halt the tropical current which warms Europe, and drove it back into another 1,000 year ice era.

For decades scientists have expressed concern that the ice shelf barrier which encloses the outward flowing "ice streams" of the west Antarctic ice shhet could disintegrate as a result of localized ocean or air temperature increases, and cause the disintegration of the entire ice sheet, bringing about a twenty foot sea level increase in as little as twenty years. The ice streams of the continental ice pack would rapidly expand outward, tripling or quadrupling the area currently covered by ice, reflecting solar radiation back into space enough to cool the entire planet enough to trigger the next ice age.

To be continued...

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