Whether Weather or Climate
In the last 650,000 years, there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. The duration of each varied greatly but averaged 10’s of thousands of years each. The last advance began almost 100,000 years ago and ended around 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. One theory suggests that what appears to be an oscillation of “climate change” over the past more than half-million years began with the eruption of Central America from the sea at the interface of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. This would have interrupted the interactions of the oceans and may have resulted in the oscillations, which have not settled out yet. We are now more than 10,000 years into the current warming period, so the next ice age could be far into the future or it could start at any moment. Despite what you hear on TV, there is not a soul on Earth who knows which way the climate is changing at this moment [i]Remember; climate, not weather – whether warming or cooling. If there were such a person, it is a virtual certainty that you would not find him or her in Washington, DC, or on network TV.
Earth’s orbital variations are predictable and computer models can generate countless possible scenarios, causing some scientists to suggest that we are in another warming climate period. If true, it might last another 50,000 to 100,000 years and it probably is being altered by heat-trapping gases (man-made or otherwise). On the other hand, the next glacial period might already be upon us, or it might be delayed or prevented entirely. Scientists – Climate ones and Real ones – are far from unanimous with their interpretations of the limited data available, but it is entirely likely that they will find consensus on the matter within 1,000 years or so.
I was asked recently if I had observed any effects of Climate Change at Patchen. I think I tried to be polite at the time by avoiding the question because humans, of course, don’t observe Climate Change. We only live 100 years or so, and climate is the average of weather conditions over many hundreds or thousands of years.
We humans do however observe weather changes and journalists, politicians, and some Climate Scientists try to shape those weather observations into trends. It is not easy to find the truth in their work because historical evidence is slim, guessing the future is always risky, and because many of the people doing the analysis have strong political agendas that affect their judgment. I don’t want to call it “fake science” but let’s just say, facts get twisted a bit, and in the absence of facts, people often make up stuff to suit the circumstances. Keep in mind that these so-called Climate Scientists are predominately university professors whose charter it is to expand their departments by writing government grant applications. The academic system’s very foundation is to “publish or perish” and those who win the grant money get the attention. Then, of course, it should not surprise anyone that federal bureaucrats reviewing proposals would rather read those supporting their establishment view rather than those in opposition; and who would argue that “more government” is not “good government”?
“Real” scientists are rarely heard on the subject because they are busy with private-sector jobs and have no particular political agenda. They are not in the news because their objective view of the facts lacks the excitement needed to get the attention of government officials or journalists.
Over the next few hundred years, there is a lot of work to be done because the Earth seems to be warming and sea levels will rise. Residents of many coastal cities will probably need to build sea walls and levees like the ones Hollanders have been perfecting since the 11th Century AD. Large portions of some cities will be gradually abandoned or relocated inland. The citizens of Venice have dealt with the problem for around 1600 years and will likely be willing to share some of their ideas. As for farmlands – many will need to move, much the same as farmlands have moved since Humans decided to settle down on farms around 11,000 years ago.
My grandfather used to yarn about how cold it was when he was a kid. He said the snow was so deep that walking to school, they barely arrived there in time for lunch and had to turn around for the walk back home before it got dark. If he had lived another 100 years, he could have been a Climate Scientist.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of hair on fire in Silicon Valley this morning [ii]February 2019. As if it weren’t enough to have an above-average snowpack in the Sierras again this year, we now have snow at 1600 feet in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s going to be really hard to fit this news into the global warming dialog without really serious distortions. The worst part is that today is not the first time this has happened in recent years. First, we have a drought, then record rainfall; so it’s really annoying to the Climate Change crowd, as they try to shape it all into a storyline of impending doom.
I can hear the traffic on the freeway, off in the distance. Tens of thousands of millennials have bounced wildly from their beds and stuffy little apartments to jam themselves, shoulder-to-shoulder into Prii [iii]More than one Prius? with those little “Hybrid” emblems on the back, all headed for “The Valley”, each wanting to be the first to their little cubicle at Google or Facebook to start spinning up this snow news into something really exciting.
Meanwhile, the only exciting thing on my mind is how my coffee is getting cold.