The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Global cooling - not the way to go

Every year on a cold morning I take a picture of the fountain in its frozen state and post it on this site. As far as I can tell, the goldfish and their brown progeny are still alive, but I won't know for sure until the thaw takes place. They have survived previous freezes.

But its cold for us southerners. Of course, my brother in Minnesota would laugh at us for being such weenies when it comes to cold weather.

Speaking of weenies, and the cold, I wonder if David, standing near the fountain, experiences "shrinkage" related to the cold weather.

But what if the cold weather became permanent. While our immediate and more pressing concern is climate change in the other direction, there is a theory about global cooling that could occur if a local nuclear skirmish between India and Pakistan occurred.

Scientific American has an article where Alan Robock and Owen Brian Toon explore that possibility. (The entire article is only available online if you are a subscriber. I have the magazine if you want to borrow it).

Here are the key concepts from the article.

Nuclear bombs dropped on cities and industrial areas in a fight between India and Pakistan would start firestorms that would put massive amounts of smoke into the upper atmosphere.

The particles would remain there for years, blocking the sun, making the earth's surface cold, dark and dry. Agricultural collapse and mass starvation could follow.

Cooling scenarios are based on computer models. but observations of volcanic eruptions, forest fire smoke and other phenomena provide confidence that the models are correct.

Here is why the smoke particles from the fires would not just be brought down to the earth by rain and gravity.

"Fires ignited by bombs would send smoke up through the troposphere within two days." (That's up about 12 kilometers). "The sun would then heat the tiny particles and loft them into the stratosphere," by day 49. (That is up to 50 kilometers). "Precipitation never occurs there, so particles would take about 10 years to fully settle to earth's surface. Smoke in the troposphere washes out within a week or so."

The sky would look overcast everywhere.

Less sunlight and cooler temperature would shorten the growing season everywhere.

The authors report on the effects of volcanoes and forest fires. the most remarkable was the 1815 Tambora eruption in Indonesia which darkened the skies and produced a global temperature decline of about 0.5 degrees C for a year. "1816 became known as 'The Year without a Summer' or 'Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.'"

"In New England, although the average summer temperature was lowered only a few degrees, crop-killing frosts occurred in every month."

There are more examples of past effects and future possibilities in the article.

A solution is offered as well: Abolition of nuclear weapons.

"...on September 24 (2009), the president led the United nations Security Council to approve a draft resolution that would step up efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Our modeling results only strengthen the reasons to support further progress on such policy."

Here, Molly discusses the effect on our world from a nuclear war. While her scenario is a bit more explosive, the results are the same.


Anonymous said...

blah, blah, blah

Joe said...

So, anonymous, you don't like science, or learning, or making sure the planet and the human race survives?

lipscomb bohemian said...

i cant for the life of me understand why anyone would spend any time to look at or read something that they already know they they arent gonna like disagree is one thing but but to act like a jerk is another