relax, the ice age will get here

No, we're not heading into an Ice Age. At least, not yet...

snowy peaks

On the opposite end of global warming skeptics who claim that the sun is warming up the Earth without our help, there are people who argue there’s no such thing as global warming. That the Earth, in fact, is going into an Ice Age and cooling down. They base their claims on ice build-up in certain years, including this years increase in arctic ice and certain ice sheets. The fact that despite all this slow and steady ice expansion, the average global temperatures are still heading up is said to be an aberration that will fade as the new Ice Age begins. So rather than reaching for the sun block, should we be grabbing our parkas?

Not just yet. Just like the solar powered global warming idea, the global cooling argument has a problem with timelines. The next Ice Age will come and mighty glaciers which shaped much of North America and Northern Europe into their present day forms will once again reach down to Manhattan and Paris. But that will start happening in 25,000 years and because ice sheets stable over decades reflect light and help cool the planet, its unlikely that it would take so much time for the planet to cool by the five or six degrees needed to enter a full blown Ice Age.

This is the second biggest problem, the actual temperature change. Our current average global temperatures are between 15% and 20% in the opposite direction. One degree is not just a small aberration but a significant change. In fact, some scientists believe that continued greenhouse gas emissions and more hikes in global temperatures can delay an Ice Age. We can point to an increase in an ice shelf for a year or two or three, but ultimately what really matters is what will happen over periods of decades and centuries. If we look at the trees rather than the forest, it’ll seem plausible that Earth is about to plunge into a cold snap. But looking at the last few million years, it seems that global cooling enthusiasts will just have to wait.

# science // climate change / global cooling / ice age


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