Last updated 6-1-15
Australia is not a country well insulated from the physical phenomenon of climate change.
Even in the early stages of this non linear and even at this point still largely hidden phenomenon (that is, most excess energy is going into starting large scale polar ice sheet processes, and ocean warming, masking current “relevant” changes to us), Australia is one of the countries that’s been disproportionately affected:
For the continent down under, it’s been kind of a bad 2000s; and 2013 (until 2014), was Australia’s hottest ever, with continued precipitation problems. In 2014, the Australian heat continued and intensified.
But – even while more than 90% of the increase in energy now going into our earth/lower atmosphere system is minimizing any immediate observable changes by going into heating oceans and helping to melt our polar ice caps, among other things, and with Australian drought, river drying, and intense heatification aside – a few possible pertinent questions might be:
- What if aliens from another planet invaded us, and we’re not sufficiently prepared?
- Suppose instead those zany climate scientists are right, and increases to long term “heat trapping” atmospheric greenhouse concentrations to levels not seen on earth in at least several million years, leads to severe future climate shifting in response, as common sense would naturally suggest that it would, and the complete picture (and not climate select climate change skepticism cherry picking) mean’s we’re actually ignoring signs of such climate shifting at our (or our progeny’s) peril.
Somewhere in between these two “what ifs” – but much closer to one than the other – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot’s chief business adviser, Maurice Newman – who’s not a scientist, but as a business adviser apparently knows a lot more about these complex issues of science than scientists – asked this question. And not at a wacky private dinner party either; but in an Oped published in one of Australia’s leading newspapers.
Newman asked, “what if” the recent warming of earth is due to an increase in solar radiation and we face a massive risk of major cooling. Okay so far, right? Hold on:
More relevantly, Newman also answered that we do face just such a threat. And he went further:
In an irony that future generations will hopefully (but not likely) find more amusing and enlightening than outrageous and saddening, Newman said cooling was a threat for which he asserted the world and its people are ill prepared: A threat, he wrote for all of Australia and the world, that politicians are ignoring “nature’s signs” of, at “their, and our, peril.”
While the earth overheats on the tail end of a now multi million year increase to earth’s basic insulation layer, major signs of which we are largely ignoring, we ignore “nature’s signs of cooling” (again, for perspective), at our peril.
So, two things, among many others, we are ill prepared for: global cooling, and alien invasion.
The sun could be going into a lower phase. But it’s hard to prepare for major cooling when all science suggests the opposite; when the impact of atmospheric greenhouse gas changes dwarfs any impact of changes in solar radiation; and given that an extremely unusual and significantly long drop in solar radiation were to occur, it would be a very good thing, not a bad thing – in that it would help partially offset the accumulating and increasing impact of already geologically radical increases in long term atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
And it’s also hard to prepare for when the central fact that Newman bases his claim on, is wrong: Solar radiation has slightly decreased the past few decades. And the globe, also contrary to Newman’s imagined science, has not cooled.
13 of the 14 warmest years in modern history have all occurred in the last 14. The last decade was the hottest on record. Permafrost (land, not air) temperatures have increased even more than the air above, as the earth itself is heating. Polar ice sheets are melting, and melting at an increasingly faster rate, with additional risk of further positive reinforcement from warmer water encroachment (video here).
More significantly, while with such record setting ambient air temperatures the world ocean should have cooled a little (by giving off more heat energy then they took in, to in turn keep air temperatures higher than the norm on average), the oceans have instead continued to warm, even doing so at an accelerating rate. And despite most excess energy going into future (warming) climate by melting ice and rapidly heating oceans, 2014, statistically was likely to have been the warmest year on record, surpassing 2010 and 2005.
Even as solar output has diminished.
But the data is secondary to the basic science that as business adviser, Maurice Newman must be more expert on than the scientists who professionally study this (and surely The Australian must be well aware of this also): Which is that greenhouse gases absorb and re radiate thermal energy that would otherwise waft into the upper atmosphere and beyond, thus “insulating” the earth, and over time, warming it – and that the increases to the levels of these gases, in a geologic sense, has already been massive.
Which, however, Newman also doesn’t “agree” with. Or accept.
Which seems a little like religion, veiled, as, “skeptical” science.
Speaking of which, Newman considers sensible measures to slow down our rapid continued increases to our atmosphere’s long term greenhouse gas concentrations, akin to:
Let that sink in. Addressing out massive atmospheric alteration that we continue to add to at breakneck speed, and that nearly all atmospheric and climate scientists who study this say we need to, is like a primitive civilization offering up a sacrifice to the Gods.
Perhaps in an ultimate irony though it could be that radically changing the long term nature of our atmosphere to a level ultimately incompatible with the general climate we have come to know, love, and rely on – then continuing to add to and amplify the same at geologically breakneck speed all while proclaiming and believing we’re not really changing anything until there is the proof of it having thus been wildly changed, after the fact – is the sacrifice to appease the Gods.
The fossil fuel Gods.
Gods based upon a belief system that our own destinies, industry, societal development, economy and growth is dependent upon purposefully engaging in practices that directly harm our world.
Fossil fuels that none other than former oilman George Bush, in his 2006 Presidential State of the Union Address, called an “addiction.”
Clearly the question of whether or not we are prepared for alien invasion is not quite like the question of whether we’re “prepared” for global cooling. We could see the latter, if even for a shorter time, as major ocean circulation and other patterns shift and suddenly bring colder temperatures further south, plausibly creating increased surface snow and ice and lowering albedo. It could happen.
But it’s probably very unlikely.
And given the radical nature of our change to the atmosphere’s long term head trapping property, and the attendant, if early, signs of increasing earth/lower atmosphere energy (i.e., meaning subsequently more intense and hotter climate – since climate is ultimately an expression, if a volatile and shifting one, of long term energy), saying we’re ill prepared for global cooling, and have warning signs which we’re ignoring “at our peril,” given the very powerful data suggesting the opposite, is somewhat akin to saying we’re also not prepared for alien invasion.
Or at least it is when the same person making these claims is not a long term leading geologist holed up north studying the details in the ice (such as this guy who is among the many who say that climate change is going to be an enormous problem), but a political business adviser who simultaneously says that the extremely sensible idea of transforming off of fossil fuels that are radically altering the long term heat trapping chemical composition of the atmosphere, and which pollute otherwise anyway, which are finite, which have to be dug out of the ground, and are finite, and moving, building, investing in smarter energy sources, is “like a primitive civilisation offering up sacrifices to appease the Gods.”
More on Aliens, and a “word” from an actual scientist who Newman directly relied upon for his major Oped
This article/blog piece was written after coming across Newman’s Oped back in August, and kept as a draft. While researching to “finish” and post it the following day, I made the discovery that the alien analogy wasn’t quite so novel, as well as what the scientists who Newman referenced in his Oped had to say about it.(Which then led to something more akin to a long book chapter on irony and our belief system’s conflation with logic under the latter’s guise – and hence the post got shelved for awhile.)
As far as the original alien invasion title and satirical premise above goes, Professor Matthew England’s response to Newman’s claims, literally was:
Saying we aren’t prepared for global cooling is like saying we aren’t prepared for an alien invasion.
As for the scientist who Newman directly relied upon for his claim – the guy you would think would offer him support (say the scientist who served as adviser on the Dennis Quaid frozen world film “The Day After Tomorrow), he had this to say:
Frankly, scientifically ludicrous.
The scientist therein, Mike Lockwood of Reading University, was being a little bit nice. But then he’s a scientist. Professionally, they normally understate things. The idea Newman rested his oped upon is ludicrous.
But his clamor that we ignore the signs of cooling at our peril while action to temper our major atmospheric alteration is like a primitive civilization offering up sacrifices to the Gods, is massive misinformation reinforced zealotry – to find any argument possible to support a belief that we’re not significantly affecting our own future climate though the major long term chemical changes we’re unambiguously making to the atmosphere.
Just like this widespread pattern, although a very extreme example of it.