Global Cooling?

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
published in The Stream, March 2008
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News item: Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling – Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming.

This should be of considerable interest, if this pans out. I don’t know that it will pan out, I really haven’t delved into the science yet nor into who paid for these various reports – but I’m not too entirely surprised. Nor does this dip, if it’s for real, necessarily mean an end to global warming. One of the features of rapid global climate change – can you say the word “destabilization”? – is that in whichever direction that overall change is going, we also see drastic fluctuations year to year in any direction. History has been pretty grim on that point. Next year might see just as drastic, or an even more drastic, spike running in the other direction – we’ll need to watch for several years to see if a new trendline has indeed been established.

A few of us have been following these developments. Some have even suggested that the delayed onset of the current sunspot cycle is signifying the beginnings of another Maunder Minimum like the one which, with reduced solar output, produced Europe’s experience of the recent Little Ice Age. If so, this appears to be happening barely in time to forestall the apparently gathering methane blow I was writing about which, if like its predecessors, would have spiked temperatures abruptly upward by ten or twelve degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, if this cooling is going to be significant, that direction of climate change also represents a disruption of land-based agriculture and therefore of world food supplies. Historically, the Maunder Minimum – if that period of weakened solar output is what’s coming – brought devastating famines and disease and social disorder. My proposed system for oceanic fish farming seems fully as apropos for a cooling climate as for a warming one, the operative factor being CHANGE. As the climate jerks around, no one on the soil will know from year to year what to plant when and where. We can, and I think should and even MUST, seek to move forward something like our oceanic fish farming, at least as a contingency, and as a safeguard against the fact that world food stores are already running short.

If global climate is indeed turning abruptly cooler, this revives the first fish-farming proposal we published in the website in May of ’02 – “Feeding the World” (Winsights No. 59). There we suggested using the Beachbuilder invention to build a succession of farmable and forested barrier islands across the shallow northern third of the Bay of Bengal, alternating with lagoons to be used for fish farming.

More recently I restated that proposal. I had stopped pushing that proposal when the rising seas, a consequence of global warming, looked to overwhelm anything we might build there. If, indeed, the direction of global climate change has reversed, the oceans will no longer be rising; then this Bay of Bengal proposal, which would also protect Bangladesh and key parts of India from the typhoons which sometimes kill hundreds of thousands of people there, will be worth reviving. So there may be not one but two major ways economically and very greatly to increase world production of protein, while protecting the entire planet from the famines which accompany the periods of rapid climate change.

As to our comet notion (please see also here), some of the urgency for that disappears except for whatever urgency pertains to the parking of all that water represented by a comet moved into trailing LeGrangean orbit, as a filling station in service of much more complete and rapid development of the solar system.

Perhaps as the climate picture shifts around on us and old certainties dissolve, old dogmatisms can also dissolve, old politics likewise, and we can begin to bring both common sense and methods of effective creative problem-solving to bear on our situation. The road is getting bumpy again, but we don’t have to lose our grip on the steering this time or get thrown. A good start is:

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