Geologic records show that Ice Ages are the norm, punctuated by brief periods of warming. Now one of the most highly respected paleoclimatologists has weighed in and is warning everyone to prepare for a new Ice Age.
A new Ice Age? Then what's all the brouhaha about man-made global warming over the past 20 years?
George Kukla, 77, retired professor of paleoclimatology at Columbia University and researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory responds, "The only thing to worry about global warming is the damage that can be done by worrying. Why are some scientists worried? Perhaps because they feel that to stop worrying may mean to stop being paid."
The "Earth has experienced an ongoing cycle of ice ages dating back millions of years. Cold, glacial periods affecting the polar to mid-latitudes persist for about 100,000 years, punctuated by briefer, warmer periods called interglacials," Kukla says.
Co-author of an important section of the book "Natural Climate Variability on Decade to Century Time Scales," Kukla asserts all Ice Ages start with a period of global warming. They are the harbingers of new Ice Ages. Actually, he explains, warming is good. Ice Ages are deadly and may even kill millions.
Can Mankind stop it? No. Just as humanity cannot affect the long term climate of the planet, neither can it stop an Ice Age from happening. The climate is primarily driven by the sun.
"I feel we're on pretty solid ground in interpreting orbit around the sun as the primary driving force behind Ice Age glaciation," he says. "The relationship is just too clear and consistent to allow reasonable doubt. It's either that, or climate drives orbit, and that just doesn't make sense."
Ultimately, Kukla warns, human activities may have an impact more on water vapor in the atmosphere than any real affect on global temperatures. Neither does the activity have any real impact over climate cycles. He does admit, however, that the current level and type of human activity may have some impact on a transition towards encroaching glacial conditions, increase the polar water flow and accelerate the coming Ice Age.
He explains that glaciation during an Ice Age comes from the icecaps. The poles only account for about 14 percent of the entire Earth's surface. The Ice Age begins at the poles and ends at the poles and is fed by water vapor moving to the extreme north and south from the tropics.
During a lengthy interview with Gelf Magazine, Kukla explained: "What is happening is very similar to the time 115,000 years ago, when the last glaciation started. It is difficult to comprehend, but it is really so: The last glacial was accompanied by the increase of a really averaged global mean surface temperature, alias global warming.
"What happened then was that the shifting sun warmed the tropics and cooled the Arctic and Antarctic. Because the tropics are so much larger than the poles, the area-weighted global mean temperature was increasing. But also increasing was the temperature difference between the oceans and the poles, the basic condition of polar ice growth. Believe it or not, the last glacial started with 'global warming!'"
So, as more water vapor's carried to the poles the southern icecap calves and thickens, the extreme center of the northern pole gradually becomes ice-free and the lower latitudes experience heavier snowfalls that gradually start migrating towards the south.
That's exactly what's happening now.
Although criticized in the past for his views on global cooling in the face of political moves to support the opposite, Kukla feels he's vindicated. "None of us expected uninterrupted continuation of the trend." On the contrary, Kukla and his colleagues expected a warming blip and it occurred like clockwork. He knows that global warming always precedes an Ice Age. The history of that is in the ice core records repeating itself every 100,000 years or so over millions of years.
Adamant that humans have little to do with warming or cooling and that cooling would be a disaster of indescribable proportions, Kulka wrote to the United States Congress: "…a global deterioration of climate, by order of magnitude larger than any hitherto experienced by civilized mankind, is a very real possibility and indeed may be due very soon. The cooling has natural cause and falls within the rank of processes which produced the last Ice Age."
Ice Age catastrophes
Generations ago, scientists believed Ice Ages advanced slowly taking tens of thousands of years. Now some researchers have revealed startling evidence that an Ice Age can be triggered in under 10 years.
Warming is much more preferable than cooling. Warming would actually help Mankind; cooling will do just the opposite.
Kukla and his colleagues warn that as the ice starts marching southward from the Arctic there will be "substantially lowered food production" and evidence will abound of "extreme weather anomalies" in both the northern and southern latitudes.
Global superstorms may break out. Some regions may experience anomalous cold spells while others roast from spiking temperatures never before seen by civilization.
Those things too are exactly what's happening now.
So is Man responsible in any way for "global warming?" Kulka thinks, "Man is responsible for a part of global warming; most of it is still natural."
Not taken into Kulka's model of an encroaching Ice Age are the facts and possible impact of the magnetic pole shift, the shifting core of the Earth, or the revelation by NASA and the ESA that the sun is going to fall into a quiet period for the next 30 to 50 years.
That exceptional solar minimum cycle is expected to start in 2014, perhaps earlier.
It seems the odds are good that the Earth will slip into an extended cooling, or so-called mini-Ice Age. Whether that becomes an extended 100,000 year full-fledged Ice Age even Kulka doesn't know.
"Scientist Refutes Notion of Recent Climate as 'Uniquely Benign' —Sees Evidence of Approaching Ice Age Despite Global Warming," Earth Institute Columbia University
"Forget warming—beware the new Ice Age," Canada.com
"An Unrepentant Prognosticator—Climatologist George Kukla still believes an ice age is likely," Gelf Magazine
George Kukla's biography (published by Canada.com):
George Kukla, micropalentologist and Special Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, is a pioneer in the study of solar forcing of climate changes. He was the lead author of the scientific paper that first supported Milutin Milankovic's theory of glacial cycles by investigating the stratigraphy in deep-sea sediment cores from the southern Indian Ocean. In the cores were clear imprints of Milankovic's proposed cycles. In his paper he wrote, "We are certain now that changes in the Earth's orbital geometry caused the ice ages. The evidence is so strong that other explanations must now be discarded or modified." Prior to joining Columbia in 1971, he had published landmark studies in Czechoslovakia, where he was a member of the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences.