Saturday, January 23, 2016

Global Warming: This Interglacial Period Will End Differently

During interglacial periods, global temperatures and sea levels rise due to naturally occurring Milankovitch cycles.

Previously, this has always occurred without the presence of the current unnaturally high levels of CO2 caused by the release of greenhouse gases by mankind. Now, in the current interglacial period, we have suddenly doubled the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans (and will be quadrupled at current overall rates of release). This has already caused a perceptible increase in global temperatures. When the Milankovitch warming influence strengthens as it has in previous interglacials, it will be amplified by the already increasing Greenhouse Effect.

Instead of hippos merely finding hospitable conditions in England like during the last interglacial, they will be able to bask in the fjords of Norway. Polar bears, however, will not survive this interglacial because conditions will be too severe. The human populations in the lower latitudes will be decimated. And if global temperatures rise to the point that 'methane hydrate gasification' becomes a self sustaining cycle, then the world will become more than just "ice free".

Why? Because greenhouse gases will remain largely unsequestered for millennia and sustain higher temperatures long after the Milankovitch cycle has swung back the other way. Homo sapiens will then perhaps evolve into a new species that will gradually repopulate the planet during the next ice age. If and when mankind regains ascendancy in the next interglacial, they will not be able to easily make the same fossil fuel error that we did because most of the easy access coal and oil will be gone. They'll have to develop the use of wind power, solar power, cellulosic ethanol production, etcetera that we failed to take advantage of in time to do ourselves any good.