At the present time the world is experiencing a "Bull Market" in global warming, the planet is still emerging from the last major glacial age. How long this global warming trend will continue is anyone's guess, it may be nearly over or the warming trend may go on for hundreds of years. Just as in a bull stock market, the warming trend will not be constant, there will be dips and set backs but the general temperature trend will be higher until the warming trend levels off and enters into a long stable interglacial age. If this interglacial age is anything like the previous major interglacial ages, it will last for at least thousand centuries before entering into another glacial age.
The environmentalists are blaming this warming phenomenon on the emission of greenhouse gases caused by automobile and industrial emissions. British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently said "global warming is advancing at an unsustainable rate". Blaming greenhouse gases may be true to a very limited extent but the major glacial cycles that have been going on long before mankind came on the scene are the overwhelming cause of the present global warming phenomenon.
The global warming we are now experiencing is part of a major natural cycle of total solar energy upon the planet, a natural phase of the sun's cycle of expansion and contractions. In my book "The Mind of Mankind" (Refer: Chapter 12 - The Birth of the Earth) I explain why these periodical expansions and contractions of the sun take place and are the cause of the major glacial and interglacial periods that geologists have determined, happened with remarkable "reoccurring regularity" over the past million years and probably throughout much of the life of the planet.
This "reoccurring regularity" is strong evidence that our sun is a variable star that expands and contracts in fairly regular cycles, although at a very attenuated pace. These expansions and contractions cause the total solar energy upon the planet to vary over long periods of time. If you could have measured the sun's disk at the height of a glacial age it would have been slightly smaller and the total solar energy would have been less. The Earth would have been slightly cooler. It doesn't take much to change the Earth's climate drastically.
The sun may have many variable cycles such as, the 11 year cycle etc., but the really long cycles that produce the major glacial periods are very long and cold . Within the last 1 million years there were just four of them: the Nebraskan, Kansan, Illinoian and Wisconsin. The major "Nebraskan" glacial age, that occurred about a million years ago, was followed by a warm interglacial age that lasted well over 100,000 years. This was followed by the "Kansan" glacial age followed by another long warm interglacial age that lasted about 300,000 years which was followed by the "Illinoian" glacial age, etc.etc..
At the present time the planet is emerging from the latest "Wisconsin" glacial age into another warm interglacial age that may last for 100,00 years more or less. The glaciers extended beyond the Great Lakes around 100,000 years ago and has been slowly retreating ever since then. The recovery is not a smooth warming however, it had many aberrations such as the little ice age that occurred around 1200 AD.
At the height of the Wisconsin glacial period there was around 20 million square miles of ice sheets covering the planet. The sea level was 200 to 300 feet lower at this time. England was connected to Europe and Asia was connected to Alaska, etc. Worldwide, the shores of the continents were much different, extending outward to the depth of 200 to 300 feet deep. Ever since then the glaciers have been melting and retreating and are still retreating at the present time. They have been melting for the whole time mankind has been in existence.
The sea level may be 200 to 300 feet higher now and is still rising. At some point the warming trend should level off as we enter into a long warm interglacial period that will probably last 100,000 years or more. The abundant amount of greenhouse gases now present in the atmosphere could exaserbate the global warming to a certain extent and cause more melting then would have normally occurred but the overwhelming major cause is the variability of the sun's radiation.
These major glacial cycles are a worldwide phenomena effecting both the northern and southern hemispheres. The Antarctica glaciers are also subject to melting during the interglacial periods, adding to the higher sea level. The head of the British Antarctica Survey, Chris Rapley, warned that the huge west Antarctica ice sheet may be starting to disintegrate and could raise sea levels by as much as 16 feet.
The earth, at the present time, is just emerging from a "little ice age" that may actually be the end of the "Wisconsin" major glacial age. The planet had entered the "little ice age", cooling period around 1200 AD which continued until about 1650. At that time the cycle turned and the planet resumed its warming trend. The "little ice age" may have been just a little aberration toward warmer times of the major interglacial trend.
World wide, this warming trend has already caused a great increase in the amount of land that was previously covered by the glaciers, but some of the land is now underwater due to the rising sea level. Scientists estimate that up to 20 million square miles of land, will eventually be free of glaciers, that were once covered at the height of the "Wisconsin" glacial period some 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. At that time the glaciers covered much of the northern regions of North America and Europe.
This interglacial period will have a profound effect on the climate of Greenland. The Norsemen originally settled there just before the "little ice age" aberration settled in. At the time there were green pastures and longer summers and little or no sea ice to clog the harbors. When this changed toward a colder trend the summers grew shorter and the winters became colder. The glaciers began advancing and sea ice began to clog the harbors. This eventually led to the isolation and extinction of the original Norsemen settlers.
Now that the cooling aberration is over the glaciers are again retreating, the green pastures of Greenland will again bloom. The coastal sea ice will disappear. New towns will again be established, trading and ranching will again flourish. It will be like a great reawakening for the land after being trapped in a deep freeze for over 400 years. The northern lands such as Alaska, Russia and Canada's climate will become milder. The permafrost will retreat further north and the tree lines will advance northward. Vast new agricultural areas will become available as the summers become longer for growing crops and ranching.
Unfortunately the desert areas of Africa will spread out causing more famines to occur unless the people living there can adapt to growing crops in this arid area using the latest scientific methods.
The weather will continue to become more energetic causing more and stronger hurricanes and tornadoes in the southern USA. The low lying underbelly of the country will become much more vulnerable to the higher sea level and stronger storms. Levees and sea walls will have to be built much stronger and higher. It may become totally impractical to live in low lying areas of the Gulf region. This will be a very slow process however, perhaps taking as long as several hundred years. The low lying countries of Bengaladesh and Holland, etc. will also be at risk to the rising sea level.
The sea level of the oceans have already risen quite abit during this warming trend. The coast lines of countries around the world will continue to change as the sea level rises. Evidence of this already happening can be seen where ancient harbors around the Mediterrean that were once above sea level, are now below sea level. The coast lines around the world will continue to change as the warming climate releases more glacial ice back into the ocean. Perhaps there really was an "Atlantis" civilization 10,000 - 20,000 years ago when a lot more ice was locked up in glaciers and the sea level was much lower.
The polar regions have already become increasingly important because of warming climate trend. With the polar sea ice disappearing, seaports and trade routes are being planned along the far northern coast lines. Already commercial shipping is beginning to use the polar routes as the Arctic Ocean becomes more navigable. Cruise ships are even beginning to explore this area. Canada is planning to build a deep-water port at Iqaluit, the Arctic territorial capital. Political friction is already beginning to heat up over land claims in the Polar region.
How long our global warming "Bull Market" will last is anyone's guess, it may be nearly over or it may go on for hundreds of years. What ever it is, the stable, warm interglacial period that follows, if it is anything like the previous major glacial cycles, will last for at least thousand centuries. A thousand centuries of warm mild climate - that sounds pretty good to me. Now if only mankind can last through this century.
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