Monday, October 19, 2009

Pen Meets Paper Oct. 19 '09

Opinion by Helge Nome
There are those of us who put a question mark behind the idea of global warming. This much touted concept has not been affirmed in sensory experience here in Alberta, Canada during the last couple of years. Our winters have been long and arduous and spring has arrived late, followed by a short summer and early snow. In contrast, on New Year’s Eve in 1999, I believe, we here in the cold north were out in our shirt sleeves, being warmer than our cousins in New Orleans at that time, getting ready to watch the fire works. Then Winter came with a bang at about 11pm, in the form of a cold front and minus 20 degree celsius weather.
This year things are very different. Spring started very late and the green leaves are still on the desideous trees, frozen to death prematurely on this Monday, October 19. They did not have the opportunity to complete their normal growth and decay cycle. And I just heard a road report from a Canadian family camping out in the San Diego area of the US. They woke up to three inches of snow the other day. Is this Global Warming?
And yet, the ice is retreating in Canada’s Arctic and glaciers are getting smaller. Are we missing something?
Greenhouse gas affectionados seem to have developed tunnel vision with respect to climate change to a point where they ignore the biggest factor in the equation of life on Earth: The Sun, or “Aten” as the ancient Egyptians called that great furnace in the sky.

We tend to take the Sun for granted. It is always there, every day, and does not seem to change much, apart from changing its position in the sky and hiding behind clouds from time to time. So we don’t pay much attention to it.
Why would an extremely advanced and intelligent culture like that of ancient Egypt turn the sundisk into an object of worship? Gods are generally held to be rather temperamental beings with great power over the fates of mortals and their pleasure should be entertained in exchange for favors. What would make the ancient Egyptians regard the sun in this way?
Well, perhaps their Aten really was a temperamental being, changing how he behaved from time to time. Could that be happening now?
It may be too early to tell, but information on NASA’s website indicates that sunspot activity on the surface of the sun is almost non-existent with a projected increase late in appearing. There is usually a cycle lasting some 11 years during which sunspot activity increases, decreases and increases again, greatly affecting the Earth’s weather patterns. Sunspot activity and the energy output of the sun are closely related and the last time Aten took a snooze was in the 1650ies. He yawned and woke up again in about 1725, producing what has since been called the “Little Ice Age” in Europe. I have posted some graphs from NASA of this on my website
So, are we dealing with a mixed bag of atmospheric change on the earth and reduced solar output?
The melting ice caps in the polar regions can be explained in terms of changing gas composition in the atmosphere above the poles, admitting more solar energy into these regions.
The distinctly cooler weather we are experiencing could be ascribed to a lower solar energy output. A strange brew indeed.


Helge said...

John Rawson from New Zealand said:
For your interest, Helge, there is a theory that the arctic seas were ice-free during the last ice age.

Warming and higher sea levels let the Gulf Stream move up and melt the ice there. The increased evaporation and precipitation on the land masses caused the ice age.
It gels with the fluctuations of the glaciers in our S. Is. They advance during times of increased precipitation, not when it is colder.


John R.

aaronfay said...

I have a couple thoughts Helge:

1) Climate change is nothing new, it's documented in many places that we've hit much higher and much lower temperatures on this planet in the last few thousand years. It's suggested that we've just come out of a 'little ice age' around the mid 18th century. For those curious, look up 'Medieval Warm Period'. Some studies suggest that 5,000 years ago the global average temperature was several degrees hotter than it is now. (ref)

2) Some would argue that warmer global temperatures could produce the effects we're seeing, as there is more airborne humidity to produce precipitation. (ref)

Thankfully we have the internet to tell us what we want to hear, and we don't have to practice discernment :)

I think global climate is probably changing. Did we have anything to do with it? Probably. Can we do anything about it? Probably. Will we?