SAMUEL DENNIS, Rancho Mission Viejo
Currently, there is great worldwide distress concerning global warming. With glaciers melting and sea levels rising, it does seem to be happening. However, it is a long-term problem that will take many years before it becomes a real threat to coastlines and low-lying islands. There should be time to move to higher ground. Is our worry appropriate? In the 1950s, and again in the 1970s, scientists were worrying about global cooling; maybe global warming could be a good thing.
According to geological sources, there have been five major ice ages, all lasting millions of years and one (the Cryogenian) turned the Earth into an ice ball. Amazingly, we are currently living in the fifth ice age— the Quaternary. During this ice age, there have been cold glacial periods, lasting around 100,000 years, and warm interglacial periods, lasting 10,000 to 15,000 years.
We are now in a warm interglacial period; however, the last glacial period ended about 10,000 years ago, and therefore, it is possible our warm interglacial period could end at any time. Perhaps this was happening around 1300 AD, when the Little Ice Age hit Europe. Later, coal and human ingenuity produced the Industrial Revolution, along with huge amounts of carbon dioxide. At the same time, increased animal husbandry produced more livestock flatulence. The Little Ice Age was over by 1850. It appears there could be a connection, and it would seem to be a good thing.
Some believe that dinosaur flatulence produced global warming, which allowed their warm period to last until the unfortunate meteorite strike. Thus, global warming was likely a good thing for the dinosaurs. Considering that we live in a temporary warm period between long periods of glaciation, global warming could be our salvation. Global warming could push back the onset of the next glacial period. What a cosmic irony it would be if, in our zeal to eliminate carbon dioxide and livestock flatulence, we helped bring the glaciers back. Iceberg Earth would appear to be a greater existential threat than rising sea levels.