Re: If all the ice melted...

From: Anne Marie Tobias (
Date: Mon Jul 02 2001 - 23:48:48 MDT

Spike Jones wrote:

> Damien Broderick wrote:
> > I suppose everyone has seen Bill Calvin's 1998 ATLANTIC MONTHLY essay on
> > abrupt climate flip-flops?
> >
> >
> >
> > None of yr '000s of years of languid melting. Scary shit, my man. Damien
> > Broderick
> I looked it over and found it unconvincing. A sudden catastrophic
> cooling would be something we could deal with by scattering stuff
> on highly reflective surfaces to decrease the earth's albedo. An
> example might be something like those plastic balls they have in
> the kid's playground at McDonalds, baseball sized dark plasic balls.
> Im guessing they could be mass produced in large enough numbers
> to scatter on a snowy surface for instance to trap heat. spike

Has anybody read or considered the effects of a fast onset ice age
precipitated by destruction of the haline cycle and the natural effect
of ocean thermoclines?

>From recent research I've read, the ultimate catastrophe of global
warming won't be run away heating, but the triggering of massive
polar melting, sending tremendous amounts of fresh water into the
oceans at the poles, immediately killing the haline cycle, the engine
most responsible for circulating equatorial heat to the poles... the
water at the equator get's hotter and the poles freeze hard driving
ice sheets way down into temperate regions. The planet's albedo
changes, both by the increase in cloud cover from storms driven by
heated equatorial waters, and from ice from midtemperate regions
to the poles... it's one thing to pigment ice at the poles, what kind
of project would it be to cover 40% of the planet's surface with a
dark pigment for absorbing solar heat... that's a pretty tall order.
And all that would do is further heat the equatorial regions... doing
even more damage to the other 60% of the world's surface.

I think this is something people need to begin to face, about wildly
complex dynamic systems with virtually unlimited feedback... there
are no simple answers... you patch it here, it leaks out there... you
heat it here, and it boils there and freezes someplace else... I'm not
even saying that we're responsible for any of this, I am saying we
should look at screwing with the engine very carefully, and I would
not touch squat until I had petaflop computers modeling the planet
down to the sub kilometer resolution... I want to know with a high
level of certainty that if I'm painting this ice field black, that I won't
be the one responsible for the 7 class 5 hurricanes that subsequently
barrel down on gulf states... I would be very concerned about simple
solutions to complex systems... it almost never works that way.

Switching conversations... getting back to the MOVIE

It's one more reason I liked the movie, they bothered to include,
a gobal warming scenario followed by a sudden mini ice age...
Somebody went to a whole lot of trouble to read up on the
possible results of these circumstances. On many levels, these
guys were terribly thoughful.

And I won't argue that you could drive a semi through some of the
logical holes and artificial plot devices... but the first purpose of the
film was to entertain... on this it succeeded. I believe it get's people
with it's vison... if god forbid it even stirs the great mouth breathing
public to even think, then by all means, it deserves to be applauded.

Marie Tobias

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