Climate Change and the Light Switch – A Geologist View

Russ Steele

whole storyI just finished reading The Whole Story of Climate:  What Science Reveals about the Nature of Endless Change  by E. Kirsten Peters on my Kindle Fire.  After learning about the book on a climate change blog, I down loaded it from Amazon and started reading it immediately and just could not put it down.  The author introduces biographical portraits of lead scientist who made major climate indicator discoveries, and then examines the circumstances of their discoveries.  A  detective story or sorts.

Dr. Peters introduces the  important contributions that geologist have made to our understanding of climate change in very kitchen table conversational style. Even the scientifically challenged readers will find this an enjoyable read. What emerges is a much more complex and nuanced picture of climate change issues than are usually presented in the main stream presses thirty second sound bites.

“If we view climate changes as our enemy we will always be defeated, for climate will always change. Natural climate change is frequent, often extreme, and sometimes rapid. Industrial CO2 is a real problem just as you have heard, but it’s only a fragment of the whole story of climate. In other words, I’m not a global warming denier – I want to add to the discussion of climate change from the point of view of geology and natural change. What may matter most is not our carbon policies, but whether we invest in adaptive strategies that can serve us well when change inevitably arrives on our doorstep.”

Dr. Peters points out that geological history, including the ice cores, has shown that climate change can be surprisingly rapid, coming in five, ten, or fifteen years.  Climate change is more like flipping a light switch, going from warm to cold in a decade. Or, from cold to warm in a decade. We live in a chaotic world and the climate can shift rapidly, regardless of human actions.

” . . . natural history reveals that rapid shifts from hotter to cooler climes can occur over mere decades, and, if not for recent carbon pollution, an ice age might be just around the corner.”

Dr Peters explains her views in this short video:  Including some ideas on how to mitigate CO2 emission by snuffing out the coal field fires that are emitting tons of CO2 every day around the globe.

I agree with her views that we should be preparing for a climate shift, regardless of the direction. However, if we accept her light switch analogy while residing in a warm world, then we have to assume that the next flip of the switch will bring on a much colder world.  A much colder world that can emerge in a just a decade. A climate change that we could experience in a life time.  It has happened in the past and will happen again, according to Dr. Peters.  She presents some historical examples.

The Whole Story of Climate is essential reading if your want to understand one of our most important contemporary debates — global climate change.  Policy makers are spending billions to mitigate global warming, when in fact we may be on the cusp of global cooling, if not the next ice age.  It is important that more citizens understand the larger picture, and prepare accordingly.

More HERE.


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