Short termism. How many times have you heard that comment? Whether it\’s applied to stock market investors, or any other form of looking forward, it seems to be a particularly human condition. The reasons for short termism are many and varied, but I\’d like to concentrate on the type of thinking that is thought of as \”Group Think\” and see where it\’s applied to a very well known concept, man made Global Warming.
Recent Geological history shows us that, as recently as 12,000 years ago, large parts of the planet were covered in ice sheets up to a mile thick. The area covered included much of the North American continent, as far south as Chicago, Northern Europe, covering all of Scandinavia, significant parts of the Northern European Plain, and almost all of the area now filled by the North sea, as far south as the English North Norfolk Coast. In fact, the only part of Norfolk that has any significant elevation above current sea level is the terminal Moraine of that ice sheet. Many of the problems being talked about now in southern England where sea levels are rising is not due only to any l warming effect, but is primarily due to an isotactic rebound of the earths crust. The excess weight of al the ice actually deformed and depressed the crust. Once the ice had melted the crust rebounds back to it\’s equilibrium position This means that areas north of, approx. Manchester are lifting as the crust rebounds, but areas south of this are actually sinking as the crust pivots. This effect an be seen in other parts of the world as well, especially in Alaska.
Going again to the geological record, we see that the interglacials between the successive ice ages are generally quite short, in the region of 10-14,000 years, our current interglacial is at 11,500 +/- 500 years at the moment and we also see that when Glaciation occurs it is rapid, in the range of decades rather than centuries before summertime ice sheets are established. Once these summer ice sheets exist, they act as a positive feedback mechanism to the cold, keeping night time temperatures at or below freezing, even it the daytime tems rise above that. They also have the effect of increasing the albedo of the earth, this is a measure of how well the earth reflects the energy provided by the sun without absorbing it. So it could be said that a new plunge into cold is imminent, if not overdue.
What has this to do with Short termism? Simple, the \”Group Think\” that has been evident over the last 20 years has us all looking in the wrong direction, we should be looking at the potential problems with displacement of people south of their current home countries, rather than looking at the problems of Global Warming. A couple of things must be done to being to sort out the whole crazy mess that is the current debate about the world\’s climate.
First, we need to use a consistent set of data to provide evidence for, or against Global warming.
Secondly, trends in either direction must be recognised as such.
Thirdly, there must be a much longer term view taken on what variation there have been in previous epochs.
Weather is related to climate, but in much the same way that day to day spending is related to the paying off of a loan. Daily spending may vary by huge amounts day by day, whereas the payment of a loan is constant except for variations in interest rates. the interest rate goes up, repayments go up, interest rate goes down payment goes down. But this variation in payment may well affect the day to day spending, if the ineterst rate goes up, it means that the loan is more expensive, so the amount available to spend day by day goes down. This is a simple inverse rule, whereas with heat input from the sun, it\’s simply less heat = colder planet. As the amount of extreme UV from the sun decreases, and it has decreased by 6% since 1999, the atmosphere contracts, NASA is reporting less Atmospheric drag on Satellites, smaller atmosphere makes for a smaller heat collection area, therefore less heat being absorbed ad retransmitted downwards into the planet. Allied to this is an increase in Global Cosmic rays that increase cloud cover and we have a potential problem with cooling that has a positive feedback loop.
Sorry, once again I have too many things to say and not enough structure in what I’m saying. “Group Think” was mentioned at the beginning of this post, and I believe most scientists have allowed themselves to be dragged into this “Group Think” on Global warming without applying rigorous scientific methods to their beliefs. Just as, a few months ago, it was commented in the financial press that Sir Fred Goodwin of the Royal Bank of Scotland had a Board Room that, although there were no out and out “Yes Men”, he commanded the Board Room in such a way that they all acquiesced to his way of thinkin g. We can se the same sort of problem happening throughout science, where Isaac Newton, arguably Britains greatest scientist was reknowned for petty squabbles and arguing against anyone who questioned his views.
The fact is that science progresses when people question the orthodox, not agree with it. The discussion of the effect of Galactic Cosmic Rays was first put forward just a couple of years ago and is still not well known outside scientific circles. If the team concerned had bowed to the orthodoxy, they would either not have investigated, or not have published their results.
The fact is we need the free thinkers, too many have been pidgeon holed into a area of research and not allowed to comment outside their area of expertise. We need more people that can bridge subjects and join the dots between them. As it stands today we have islands of knowledgein a sea where there are few navigable routes between the islands. We need to generalise without dumbing down.
So, we possibly stand on the edge of an Ice age and all our Governments want to Tax us for using Carbon based fuels. I have no arguement with the idea that we should ALL live cleaner Greener lives and have less impact on the planet, however we need to remove the fear factor of Global warming from the Politics of today.