Posts Tagged ‘interglacials’

A model to explain the end of an ice age (but not yet to predict when one may start)

February 23, 2017

That the onset of glacial (cold) and interglacial (warm) periods on earth are a consequence of the Milankovitch cycles is almost certain. Researchers have now developed a model which seems to be able to explain why and when glacial periods end to give interglacial conditions. Exactly what cause glacial conditions to be triggered remains to be discovered.

P. C. Tzedakis, M. Crucifix, T. Mitsui, E. W. Wolff. A simple rule to determine which insolation cycles lead to interglacials. Nature, 2017; 542 (7642): 427 DOI: 10.1038/nature21364

AbstractThe pacing of glacial–interglacial cycles during the Quaternary period (the past 2.6 million years) is attributed to astronomically driven changes in high-latitude insolation. However, it has not been clear how astronomical forcing translates into the observed sequence of interglacials. Here we show that before one million years ago interglacials occurred when the energy related to summer insolation exceeded a simple threshold, about every 41,000 years. Over the past one million years, fewer of these insolation peaks resulted in deglaciation (that is, more insolation peaks were ‘skipped’), implying that the energy threshold for deglaciation had risen, which led to longer glacials. However, as a glacial lengthens, the energy needed for deglaciation decreases. A statistical model that combines these observations correctly predicts every complete deglaciation of the past million years and shows that the sequence of interglacials that has occurred is one of a small set of possibilities. The model accounts for the dominance of obliquity-paced glacial–interglacial cycles early in the Quaternary and for the change in their frequency about one million years ago. We propose that the appearance of larger ice sheets over the past million years was a consequence of an increase in the deglaciation threshold and in the number of skipped insolation peaks.

Onset of Interglacials Tzedakis et al

Onset of Interglacials Tzedakis et al

Science Daily reports:

…. In a new study published today in Nature, researchers from UCL (University College London), University of Cambridge and University of Louvain have combined existing ideas to solve the problem of which solar energy peaks in the last 2.6 million years led to the melting of the ice sheets and the start of a warm period.

During this interval, Earth’s climate has alternated between cold (glacial) and warm (interglacial) periods. In the cold times, ice sheets advanced over large parts of North America and northern Europe. In the warm periods like today, the ice sheets retreated completely.

It has long been realised that these cycles were paced by astronomical changes in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and in the tilt of its axis, which change the amount of solar energy available to melt ice at high northern latitudes in summer.

However, of the 110 incoming solar energy peaks (about every 21,000 years) only 50 led to complete melting of the ice sheets. Finding a way to translate the astronomical changes into the sequence of interglacials has previously proved elusive. 

Professor Chronis Tzedakis (UCL Geography) said: “The basic idea is that there is a threshold for the amount of energy reaching high northern latitudes in summer. Above that threshold, the ice retreats completely and we enter an interglacial.”

From 2.6 to 1 million years ago, the threshold was reached roughly every 41,000 years, and this predicts almost perfectly when interglacials started and the ice sheets disappeared. Professor Eric Wolff (University of Cambridge) said: “Simply put, every second solar energy peak occurs when the Earth’s axis is more inclined, boosting the total energy at high latitudes above the threshold.”

Somewhere around a million years ago, the threshold rose, so that the ice sheets kept growing for longer than 41,000 years. However, as a glacial period lengthens, ice sheets become larger, but also more unstable.

The researchers combined these observations into a simple model, using only solar energy and waiting time since the previous interglacial, that was able to predict all the interglacial onsets of the last million years, occurring roughly every 100,000 years.

Dr Takahito Mitsui (University of Louvain) said: “The next step is to understand why the energy threshold rose around a million years ago — one idea is that this was due to a decline in the concentration of CO2, and this needs to be tested.”

The results explain why we have been in a warm period for the last 11,000 years: despite the weak increase in solar energy, ice sheets retreated completely during our current interglacial because of the very long waiting time since the previous interglacial and the accumulated instability of ice sheets. …..

Milankovitch Cycles (Wikipedia)

What would cause the current interglacial to end remains to be discovered. It’s only my speculation of course but I suspect that a trigger event is probably needed. Possibly 2 or 3 major (VEI >6) volcanic eruptions over a short period, with large amounts of dust, which in turn led to a a few “years without summers”, could provide such a trigger for an unstoppable process. However the onset of full glacial conditions would still take a few thousand years. The availability of high energy densities would probably make it (relatively) easy for humans to continue to thrive and prosper (as they have done through other glacial periods with much lower energy availability).


 

Southern Hemisphere sea ice growth together with Milankovitch cycles may be the trigger for an ice age

January 27, 2017

The three Milankovitch orbital cycles, due to eccentricity (100,000 years), axial tilt (41,000 years), and precession (23,000 years) have long been thought to be connected to the onsets of glacial or interglacial conditions. New research now suggests that growth of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere at particular times of the Milankovitch cycles could be the trigger for a new glacial age. The work suggests that different orbital cycles have been predominant at different times.

“For the past million years or so, the 100,000-year glacial cycle has been the most prominent. But before a million years ago, paleoclimate data suggest that pace of the glacial cycle was closer to about 40,000 years. That suggests that the third Milankovitch Cycle, which repeats every 41,000 years, was dominant then.”

Jung-Eun Lee, Aaron Shen, Baylor Fox-Kemper, Yi Ming. Hemispheric sea ice distribution sets the glacial tempo. Geophysical Research Letters, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/2016GL071307

Abstract

The proxy record of global temperature shows that the dominant periodicity of the glacial cycle shifts from 40-kyr (obliquity) to 100-kyr (eccentricity), about a million years ago. Using climate model simulations, here we show that the pace of the glacial cycle depends on the pattern of hemispheric sea ice growth. In a cold climate the sea ice grows asymmetrically between two hemispheres under changes to Earth’s orbital precession, because sea ice growth potential outside of the Arctic Circle is limited. This difference in hemispheric sea ice growth leads to an asymmetry in absorbed solar energy for the two hemispheres, particularly when eccentricity is high, even if the annual average insolation is similar. In a warmer climate, the hemispheric asymmetry of the sea ice decreases as mean Arctic and Antarctic sea ice decreases, diminishing the precession and eccentricity signals and explaining the dominant obliquity signal (40-kyr) before the mid-Pleistocene transition.

The Brown University press release:

Climate simulations show how changes in Earth’s orbit alter the distribution of sea ice on the planet, helping to set the pace for the glacial cycle.

Earth is currently in what climatologists call an interglacial period, a warm pulse between long, cold ice ages when glaciers dominate our planet’s higher latitudes. For the past million years, these glacial-interglacial cycles have repeated roughly on a 100,000-year cycle. Now a team of Brown University researchers has a new explanation for that timing and why the cycle was different before a million years ago.

Using a set of computer simulations, the researchers show that two periodic variations in Earth’s orbit combine on a 100,000-year cycle to cause an expansion of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere. Compared to open ocean waters, that ice reflects more of the sun’s rays back into space, substantially reducing the amount of solar energy the planet absorbs. As a result, global temperature cools.

“The 100,000-year pace of glacial-interglacial periods has been difficult to explain,” said Jung-Eun Lee, an assistant professor in Brown’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Studies and the study’s lead author. “What we were able to show is the importance of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere along with orbital forcings in setting the pace for the glacial-interglacial cycle.”

In the 1930s, Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovitch identified three different recurring changes in Earth’s orbital pattern. Each of these Milankovitch Cycles can influence the amount of sunlight the planet receives, which in turn can influence climate. The changes cycle through every 100,000, 41,000 and 21,000 years.

The problem is that the 100,000-year cycle alone is the weakest of the three in the degree to which it affects solar radiation. So why that cycle would be the one that sets the pace of glacial cycle is a mystery. But this new study shows the mechanism through which the 100,000-year cycle and the 21,000-year cycle work together to drive Earth’s glacial cycle.

The 21,000-year cycle deals with precession — the change in orientation of Earth’s tilted rotational axis, which creates Earth’s changing seasons. When the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, it gets more sunlight and experiences summer. At the same time, the Southern Hemisphere is tilted away, so it gets less sunlight and experiences winter. But the direction that the axis points slowly changes — or precesses — with respect to Earth’s orbit. As a result, the position in the orbit where the seasons change migrates slightly from year to year. Earth’s orbit is elliptical, which means the distance between the planet and the sun changes depending on where we are in the orbital ellipse. So precession basically means that the seasons can occur when the planet is closest or farthest from the sun, or somewhere in between, which alters the seasons’ intensity.

In other words, precession causes a period during the 21,000-year cycle when Northern Hemisphere summer happens around the time when the Earth is closest to the sun, which would make those summers slightly warmer. Six months later, when the Southern Hemisphere has its summer, the Earth would be at its furthest point from the sun, making the Southern Hemisphere summers a little cooler. Every 10,500 years, the scenario is the opposite.

In terms of average global temperature, one might not expect precession to matter much. Whichever hemisphere is closer to the sun in its summer, the other hemisphere will be farther away during its summer, so the effects would just wash themselves out. However, this study shows that there can indeed be an effect on global temperature if there’s a difference in the way the two hemispheres absorb solar energy — which there is.

That difference has to do with each hemisphere’s capacity to grow sea ice. Because of the arrangement of the continents, there’s much more room for sea ice to grow in the Southern Hemisphere. The oceans of the Northern Hemisphere are interrupted by continents, which limits the extent to which ice can grow. So when the precessional cycle causes a series of cooler summers in the Southern Hemisphere, sea ice can expand dramatically because there’s less summer melting.

The precession cycle can influence global climate because the Southern Hemisphere has a higher capacity of sea ice growth. The image depicts current variation in sea ice extent in each hemisphere.

Lee’s climate models rely on the simple idea that sea ice reflects a significant amount of solar radiation back into space that would normally be absorbed into the ocean. That reflection of radiation can lower global temperature.

“What we show is that even if the total incoming energy is the same throughout the whole precession cycle, the amount of energy the Earth actually absorbs does change with precession,” Lee said. “The large Southern Hemispheric sea ice that forms when summers are cooler reduces the energy absorbed.”

But that leaves the question of why the precession cycle, which repeats every 21,000 years, would cause a 100,000-year glacial cycle. The answer is that the 100,000-year orbital cycle modulates the effects of the precession cycle.

The 100,000-year cycle deals with the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit — meaning the extent to which it deviates from a circle. Over a period of 100,000 years, the orbital shape goes from almost circular to more elongated and back again. It’s only when eccentricity is high — meaning the orbit is more elliptical — that there’s a significant difference between the Earth’s furthest point from the sun and its closest. As a result, there’s only a large difference in the intensity of seasons due to precession when eccentricity is large.

“When eccentricity is small, precession doesn’t matter,” Lee said. “Precession only matters when eccentricity is large. That’s why we see a stronger 100,000-year pace than a 21,000-year pace.”

Lee’s models show that, aided by high eccentricity, cool Southern Hemisphere summers can decrease by as much as 17 percent the amount of summer solar radiation absorbed by the planet over the latitude where the difference in sea ice distribution is largest — enough to cause significant global cooling and potentially creating the right conditions for an ice age.

Aside from radiation reflection, there may be additional cooling feedbacks started by an increase in southern sea ice, Lee and her colleagues say. Much of the carbon dioxide — a key greenhouse gas — exhaled into the atmosphere from the oceans comes from the southern polar region. If that region is largely covered in ice, it may hold that carbon dioxide in like a cap on a soda bottle. In addition, energy normally flows from the ocean to warm the atmosphere in winter as well, but sea ice insulates and reduces this exchange. So having less carbon and less energy transferred between the atmosphere and the ocean add to the cooling effect.

The findings may also help explain a puzzling shift in the Earth’s glacial cycle. For the past million years or so, the 100,000-year glacial cycle has been the most prominent. But before a million years ago, paleoclimate data suggest that pace of the glacial cycle was closer to about 40,000 years. That suggests that the third Milankovitch Cycle, which repeats every 41,000 years, was dominant then.

While the precession cycle deals with which direction the Earth’s axis is pointing, the 41,000-year cycle deals with how much the axis is tilted. The tilt — or obliquity — changes from a minimum of about 22 degrees to a maximum of around 25 degrees. (It’s at 23 degrees at the moment.) When obliquity is higher, each of the poles gets more sunlight, which tends to warm the planet.

So why would the obliquity cycle be the most important one before a million years ago, but become less important more recently?

According to Lee’s models, it has to do with the fact that the planet has been generally cooler over the past million years than it was prior to that. The models show that, when the Earth was generally warmer than today, precession-related sea ice expansion in the Southern Hemisphere is less likely to occur. That allows the obliquity cycle to dominate the global temperature signature. After a million years ago, when Earth became a bit cooler on average, the obliquity signal starts to take a back seat to the precession/eccentricity signal.

Lee and her colleagues believe their models present a strong new explanation for the history of Earth’s glacial cycle — explaining both the more recent pace and the puzzling transition a million years ago.


 

How will we know when the transition to a new glacial age has started?

September 13, 2014

Once glacial conditions have been established (and they will), they will be unmistakable. Ice sheets will have covered large parts of the northern hemisphere making large swathes uninhabitable. Sea levels would have dropped by about 100 m. Global mean temperature would be around 10-12 ºC rather than the 15 ºC in an interglacial.

Glacials and interglacials graphic http://anthro.palomar.edu/

Habitable and fertile land would have increased around the equator and in the tropics – but not as much as would be rendered uninhabitable by the ice sheets. Modern technology and recourse to energy would still allow some exploitation of resources under the ice sheets. Precipitation levels would reduce however (with so much of the water cycle being bound up in the ice sheets). Some of the equatorial regions would see a desertification. New resources would be available due to the 100 m drop in sea level. Population would probably be significantly lower than during an interglacial but what population could be sustained comfortably will be strongly dependent upon the availability of energy and the ease of energy conversion. River flows and hydropower will dry up. Fossil fuels and nuclear energy is what will make the difference.

Ice sheets graphic http://anthro.palomar.edu

But whenever it comes, it will not happen overnight. It would take not less than a few hundred years for the transition from interglacial to glacial conditions but it might take 1000 years or more.

interglacials

The next glacial will come …

But how will we know if the transition has started? What are the signs to look for? For example a few years of reduction of global precipitation may mean nothing if at the same time an increase of water locked up as ice is not also evident.

Probably the most potent feedback loops (forcings) for the transition to glacial conditions is the ice cover on the earth’s surface and the cloud cover in the upper reaches of our atmosphere. Both of these act directly on the sun’s energy being reflected away from the earth and will shift the earth to a different paradigm of solar energy input. There may be other parameters which cause incoming solar insolation to vary but how much the earth reflects away of whatever is coming in is controlled by the ice and the high clouds. We can consider the interglacial and glacial conditions to be semi-stable equilibrium conditions, each representative of a particular level of solar energy input to the earth system.

So the first real indicators will be the growth of ice cover and an increase in high clouds. All other prior indicators  must finally show up as ice cover or high cloud. Even global temperature (which is merely an averaged, composite, weighted artefact) is not of great relevance except when it shows up as ice or cloud. Note that ice cover at a lower latitude is of greater significance since it causes a greater reduction of received solar insolation than at the poles. For ice cover to be on an increasing path we will first see a reduction in the melt of the previous season’s ice – regularly. We should see this not only at both poles but also at lower latitudes on high ground. We will see warming factors being neutralised. We will see a decrease in precipitation but this will probably lag the reduction of ice cover and the reduction of sea level by many years. It might begin to show up first as a reduction of low rain clouds and increase of high clouds. We should see the sea level increase characteristic of an interglacial, level off and then begin to fall – slowly at first and then accelerating.

An impulse or trigger is needed to shift from one semi-stable equilibrium state to another. What that trigger – or those impulses –  might be is unknown. But I note that

  1. A cooling cycle of 30 + years may have begun and may well be a trigger for a transition.
  2. Expected global temperature increase due to the undoubted (but small) effect of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is not happening and will not any time soon.
  3. Expected increase of sea level (even if based on fallacious CO2 based climate models) is not happening and sea level rise seems to be decelerating.
  4. Antarctic ice cover is at its highest level ever and has been increasing over the last few years.
  5. Arctic ice has recovered from its decrease of a few years ago and is at the same level as about 2 decades ago.
  6. Some unusual sign of fresh glacier formation have been observed on Ben Nevis.
  7. Some Himalayan glaciers. and even Alpen glaciers have shown signs of growth or reduced rates of decrease.

Just indicators of course – and another 50 or so years should tell.

But one thing is clear. Our future depends upon the availability of energy – and that will be primarily fossil and nuclear (and fusion if that has been developed by then). The pointless (and futile) attempts to curtail exploration for and the use of fossil fuels will have to cease – and better they be abandoned sooner rather than later.

Ice Age must be imminent: UK government predicts no cooling for “several centuries”

November 1, 2013

We are in a global cooling cycle and this may be a:

  1. a regular c. 30 year warming/cooling cycle influenced heavily by the multi-decadal ocean cycles, or
  2. another Little Ice Age – dominated by the solar sunspot cycles –  with the current Landscheidt Minimum comparable to the Dalton or the Maunder Minimum, or
  3. the ending of this interglacial  with a gradual return to glacial condition.

If anything can ensure that we are in for another Ice Age it must be this rather inane statement by the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) when answering a question in the House of Lords:

All of the climate models and policy-relevant pathways of future greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions considered in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent Fifth Assessment Report show a long-term global increase in temperature during the 21st century is expected. In all cases, the warming from increasing greenhouse gases significantly exceeds any cooling from atmospheric aerosols. Other effects such as solar changes and volcanic activity are likely to have only a minor impact over this timescale.

With regard to future glaciation the timescales are very long. Changes in the Earth’s orbit are considered to have driven the glacial cycles that have occurred every 100,000 years approximately, during the past one million years. The British Antarctic Survey has advised that the Earth is about halfway through the current interglacial period and the onset of the next glaciation is not expected for around 10,000 years at least. Although a future extensive glaciation would have huge geopolitical consequences, the transition into such a state would be slow, allowing for adaptation over many generations.

The slow changes in the Earth’s orbit are not, however, expected to cause any net global cooling over the next several centuries, which will be dominated by a warming global climate due to greenhouse gas emissions.

Baroness Verma’s faith in the IPCC and her religious adherence to global warming orthodoxy is touching. But the only thing we can be absolutely certain about is that the UK Government and Baroness Verma have surely got it wrong. In fact, the propensity of Baroness Verma to get (all) things wrong would suggest that glaciation has already started.

2013 was a “good” year for the cryosphere – but could it be the beginning of the end of this interglacial?

October 8, 2013

According to the NSIDC – which is an important part of orthodox officialdom – 2013 was a better year for the cryosphere since:

“This summer, Arctic sea ice loss was held in check by relatively cool and stormy conditions. As a result, 2013 saw substantially more ice at summer’s end, compared to last year’s record low extent. The Greenland Ice Sheet also showed less extensive surface melt than in 2012. Meanwhile, in the Antarctic, sea ice reached the highest extent recorded in the satellite record”.

What makes for “good” or “bad” depends upon what the fears are. If global warming is the fear then – as the NSIDC states – it was a good year. But if a cooling cycle or even a coming ice age is the fear then the increasing ice extent, the short summer, the extended winter last year and the increased snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere are all just early warning signs of what is to come.

We don’t know if we are in:

  1. a run-away global warming period (as the global warming orthodoxy will have us believe), or
  2. a series of global warming and cooling cycles, each about 20 – 30 years long and responding to the decadal ocean cycles, or
  3. the beginning of the end of this interglacial (which is overdue).

The global warming pause of the last 17 – 18 years suggests that “run-away” global warming is unlikely. The slight decrease in global temperatures over the last 7 – 8 years is not conclusive but is also evidence that the effect of increasing carbon dioxide on global temperature is far from certain. Even if it exists it is very small  and is clearly not yet properly understood. Catastrophe scenarios may attract funding but reduce the credibility of the doom-sayers.

If we are just in a regular cooling cycle then the increasing ice level is nothing to be afraid of. Even if 2 or 3 decades of cooling give us another Little Ice Age, it will be followed by a warming cycle. It will not necessarily mean the start of the end of the current interglacial. But it will mean 20 – 30 years of cooling and the increased use of fossil fuels will be required. Fracking and methane hydrate recovery from the deep sea will be needed along with the continued – and increased – mining of coal. Wind and solar energy can play their little part in the niches that they are suitable for. Nuclear energy will have to make a come-back.

But if the Earth is now responding – by mechanisms unknown – to the Milankovitch cycles – and has started its many thousands year journey into glacial conditions, then we would be well served by developing the strategies and technologies for prospering in such times. We will gradually lose habitat in the North to growing ice sheets but we will gain new habitat as the sea level sinks. But these changes will take place over many generations (50 – 100) and we will have time to adapt. One lost generation – as the last 20 years of global warming hysteria will be – will be of little consequence. Humans have lived and prospered through glacial conditions before and will again. One big difference will be the availability of affordable and abundant energy which gives us the ability – not to stop the advance of the ice sheets – but to be able to continue to access resources and minerals under the ice sheets. We may even have colonies living on top of the shallower ice sheets. But there will also be new opportunities. The increase of habitat as the sea levels drop (by upto 150m) will be in exceptionally fertile areas for food production. Mineral and energy resources currently under the sea will become even more accessible. As with the last glacial period it will probably be a period in which human ingenuity is challenged and innovation will flourish.

The coming of a new glacial period will be no catastrophic change. We will have plenty of time to adapt. And in the 1,000 or 2,000 years it will take to establish glacial conditions, humans will probably have found new frontiers and established new colonies in space. And in 50 or 100 generation humans will continue to evolve. The humans coming out of the next glacial will not be quite like us.

Better to build a roof than to try and stop the rain (or the sun)

June 16, 2013

Climate change is happening.

Of course it is. When was it ever not so?

It will be cooling at times and warming at others but for around 85% of all the time humans have been around we have lived in glacial conditions. Interglacials are the exceptions and not the rule. Yet humans have thrived. Not just by surviving the glacial times but by continuing to develop even during the glacials, Wasting time and energy and vast sums of money on trying to curb the emissions of carbon dioxide has been a blight on development for the last 3 decades. Just in Europe it has come at the expense of around 15 million jobs.

It essentially panders to the political and religious idea that “human development is inherently bad”. In that sense the “Green Movement” and the subsequent growth of enviro-fascism have taken the place of Marxist ideology. They have filled the vacuum left behind as the fall of Communism has spread. They didn’t begin that way. As local movements to clean up air and water and our immediate environments they performed a timely, neccessary and very useful function. But then they became ambitious. Local movements were hijacked by the marxists without a home. Former marxists in non-Communist countries needed a cause. They remained disaffected and had to find a new home. They now had to go Global. Local causes which were the strength of environmentalism were replaced by Global causes.  Global causes were manufactured by inventing impending global catastrophes. All the disaster scenarios had to have growth and development (and by inference – capitalism) as the culprit. Not in Russia or China or other former Communist countries where they were too busy becoming entrepreneurs. And so the carbon dioxide myth took hold and and fossil fuels became the whipping boy.

This interglacial will end.

Fossil fuels and their continued and increased use (and there is enough gas for at least 1000 years) will be critical for human development as and when the next glacial comes along. It is only by adapting to whatever climate change occurs  – not by trying to stop climate change – that the human condition will continue to improve.

It is better to build a roof than to try and stop the rain or the sunshine. But the global warming hierarchy will continue their posturing and their futile dances to try and control the climate.

Montreal Gazette:

Adapting to – not just fighting – climate change is taking the heat out of global warming talk

Efforts to curb global warming have quietly shifted as greenhouse gases inexorably rise.

The conversation is no longer solely about how to save the planet by cutting carbon emissions. It’s becoming more about how to save ourselves from the warming planet’s wild weather.

It was Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement last week of an ambitious plan to stave off New York City’s rising seas with flood gates, levees and more that brought this transition into full focus.

After years of losing the fight against rising global emissions of heat-trapping gases, governments around the world are emphasizing what a U.N. Foundation scientific report calls “managing the unavoidable.”

It’s called adaptation and it’s about as sexy but as necessary as insurance, experts say.

It’s also a message that once was taboo among climate activists such as former Vice-President Al Gore. …… 

…. Now officials are merging efforts by emergency managers to prepare for natural disasters with those of officials focused on climate change. That greatly lessens the political debate about human-caused global warming, said University of Colorado science and disaster policy professor Roger Pielke Jr.

It also makes the issue more local than national or international.

“If you keep the discussion focused on impacts … I think it’s pretty easy to get people from all political persuasions,” said Pielke, who often has clashed with environmentalists over global warming. “It’s insurance. The good news is that we know insurance is going to pay off again.” ….. 

And even from New Zealand comes a commentary that when “even the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand is no longer beating the drum. That’s when you know the cause is dead”.

National Business Review:

Global warming ends with a whimper

It’s a good news column today: the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand has seriously down-rated the worry about global warming. That’s one less thing that need make us miserable.

The down rating is huge. Green co-leader Russel Norman in his speech to this month’s annual conference never once mentioned global warming. He busied himself instead taking potshots at John Key and the late Sir Robert Muldoon.

The Green Party did have a climate change conference the following week but Mr Norman’s keynote speech lacked any of the usual end-of-world prophecy and knee-jerk call to de-industrialise. His concern was the pedestrian one that New Zealand is failing to meet its international obligations.

There was no hellfire and no brimstone.

When Jeanette Fitzsimons was co-leader global warming was the greatest-ever threat to the planet. It dwarfed all other environmental worries. It was the granddaddy of them all. Global warming threatened to destroy the biosphere and Ms Fitzsimons was forever calling an urgent and radical reduction in the burning of fossil fuels. …… 

….. But the shift on global warming with the Greens is significant. We are safe in concluding that they no longer regard global warming as the greatest threat to the planet. It would, I think, merit a mention in a leader’s annual speech to the Greens if it were. A fast-approaching environmental armageddon would be top of mind, not the constitutionality of parliamentary legislation, and not Peter Dunne’s emails.

So, hallelujah. The polar bears can continue to float about on their ice floes, millions of environmental refugees won’t wash up on our shores, malaria won’t be making an unwanted appearance in New Zealand any time soon, our beachfront properties are safe and there is no need to feel guilty driving past that bus stop.

It was always going to end with a whimper, not a bang. The scare was so big, so dominating, so accepted, that it could not be sustained. Unless, of course, it was true. It’s now not possible to maintain the huff and puff that the media and politics need to keep the headlines running. …..

……. They have been the first to shut up about it. The argument is no longer that global warming has “paused” for 17 years but rather that even the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand is no longer beating the drum. That’s when you know the cause is dead.

After all, Mr Norman was still backing Marxism-Leninism long after Mikhail Gorbachev had given up on it. 

 


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