Lawrence Solomon | March 27, 2015 8:57 AM ET
The news was all gloom for global warming doomsayers this week — a double whammy of (for them) incomprehensible findings that proves (to them) that the world is either mad or in denial.
The first whammy came via Gallup, in a comprehensive study of American attitudes to the environment in general and global warming in particular. Despite the obvious-as-the-nose-on-your-face (to them) environmental calamities that are at this very moment overwhelming the planet, only 9% of the public rate the overall quality of the environment as poor. Inexplicably, 50% rate the environment as excellent or good — the highest degree of satisfaction with the state of the environment that Gallup has recorded since it began asking this question in 2001.
But the gloom for the doomsayers was only beginning. When Americans do worry about the environment, they worry “a great deal” about the quality of their drinking water, followed by pollution of rivers and lakes. They don’t worry a great deal about global warming, which ranks dead last on Gallup’s list of worries. Fewer than one-third of Americans lose sleep over global warming, fewer than express concern over air pollution, fewer than get stressed over environmental issues that haven’t dominated the news in decades, such as the extinction of plants and animals and the loss of tropical rain forests.
Worse, despite everything President Obama has told them about the absolute imperative to stop global warming, despite all the warnings in the mainstream media about how we’re running out of time, Americans are less fussed over global warming today than they were when George Bush was president, when more than 40% were very worried. The urgency has since vanished into the ether. When asked “Do you think that global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?” Americans now overwhelmingly — 62% — respond “no.”
Fewer than one-third of Americans lose sleep over global warming
Gallup’s research discovered that about half the public associates warmer weather with global warming (the other half sees it as normal variation); fewer associate snow and cold weather with global warming because “the connection [is] less intuitive.” With 51% of Americans saying the weather in their area was colder than usual this winter, and only 18% saying it was warmer, it follows that this winter’s cold weather has had a chilling effect on potential converts to the cause of global warming.
It likewise follows that the failure of temperatures to rise for almost two decades now has dampened apprehension over global warming, and that the number of future converts will rise or fall with the thermometer.
Enter Habibullo Abdussamatov of the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the scientist who heads Russia’s space research laboratory and its global warming research using data collected by the International Space Station. Unlike other scientists in the global warming field who have had to continually backtrack, sidestep and spin erroneous findings when their models proved embarrassingly wrong, Abdussamatov’s studies over the last decade have stayed on course, in keeping with the actual temperature readings that ultimately provide a true measure of climate change.
His latest study, published in Thermal Science, delivers this week’s second whammy. It continues the analysis he has long pursued, which consistently arrives at the same conclusion: Earth is now entering a new Little Ice Age, Earth’s 19th Little Ice Age, to be precise. Abdussamatov has been quite confident of his findings for what might strike some as odd reasons: His science is based on that of the giants in the field — astronomers like Milutin Milankovitch, who a century ago described how tilts in its axis and other changes in the Earth’s movements determine its climate, and William Herschel, who two centuries ago noticed an inverse correlation between wheat prices on Earth and the number of sunspots generated by the Sun’s cycles. (Hint: the more energy from the Sun that Earth gets, the more warmth Earth receives, the more abundant the wheat crops, the lower the price of wheat; the less energy from the Sun, the less warmth, the more wheat crop failures, the higher the wheat price.)
Greenhouse gases — CO2 and water vapour — play a role in this drama but the gases come not from SUVs and other man-made activities but from the oceans, which contain 50 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere. As the oceans warm or cool because of the Sun, they release or absorb these gases, whose greenhouse effect is secondary and relatively minor.
Abdussamatov’s model incorporates the Sun’s 200-year cycles and the feedback effects from greenhouse gases released by the oceans, and sees how they acted on Earth’s previous 18 Little Ice Ages. “All 18 periods of significant climate changes found during the last 7,500 years were entirely caused by corresponding quasi-bicentennial variations of [total solar irradiance] together with the subsequent feedback effects, which always control and totally determine cyclic mechanism of climatic changes from global warming to Little Ice Age.”
If the 19th Little Ice Age follows the pattern of the previous 18, Earth slipped into an ice age in the winter just concluded and will become progressively colder over the next 50 years, reaching its depth around 2060. Another half century, taking us to the 22ndcentury, and we’ll arrive back at today’s temperatures.
Through it all, Gallup will be describing the public’s opinion of global warming.
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe, a Toronto-based environmental group. Lawrence