Friday, November 14, 2008
It has plagued scientists and politicians for decades, but scientists now say global warming is not the problem. They say we are actually heading for the next Ice Age.
British and Canadian experts warn the big freeze could bury the east of Britain in 6,000ft of ice. A taste of the future: Plunging temperatures around Britain will create 2-ft icicles over Sleightholme River in Scotland, while Northern Ireland and England could be covered in 3,000ft-thick ice fields. The expanses could reach 6,000ft from Aberdeen to Kent – towering above Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain.
And what’s more, the experts blame the global change on falling - rather than climbing - levels of greenhouse gases.
Lead author Thomas Crowley from the University of Edinburgh and Canadian colleague William Hyde say that currently vilified greenhouse gases – such as carbon dioxide – could actually be the key to averting the chill. The warning, published in the authoritative journal Nature, is based on records of tiny marine fossils and the earth’s shifting orbit.
The Earth has seen dramatic climate fluctuations – veering between cold and warm extremes - over the past many years, the researchers say. And changes in the Earth’s orbit and slowly falling levels of carbon dioxide are the cause. The team says we are approaching a turning point, in the next 10,000 years which will lead to the new ice sheets smothering much of Europe, Asia and South America. The theory, which is based on computer models, suggests ice sheets will also slash sea levels by up to 300m, so Russia and Alaska will be connected by land. The North Sea will become part of a huge glacier stretching from Holland and Scandinavia to the Russian Far East.
Still, Professor Crowley reminds us that the stark findings do not mean that we should "push the panic button."
An inconvenient truth, indeed.