Science in desperation?

6 Apr 2012

At ... we are told, with a trifle of Auntie's biased glee, rising co2 may have been, in part, responsible for the end of the last Ice Age. Has desperation set in we may wonder as various geologists, Plimer springs to mind, have pointed out unceremoniously over the years that co2 invariably lags behind rising temperatures. The paper in question has just been published by Nature (behind a pay wall) and appears, at face value to the news blurb, to be an attempt to say this is not always so. However, in its spasm of excitement Auntie forgets the authors have in effect produced a catastrophic rise in co2 (catastrophic for the ice, that is) long before humans and their combustion engines and pre-dating by far all those farting cows so beloved by our Celtic forebears. What then might have been happening that alarmists and sceptics alike have not taken onboard?

While this paper has clearly been aimed at countering sceptic arguments, and the news blurb by the BBC openly admits this, one might be excused for comparing it with the production of the Hockey Stick climate graph way back in 1998 - the icon that was supposed to put to bed sceptic arguments concerning the amount of warmth enjoyed by people in the Medieval period, in the Roman period (first two centuries AD), and in the Bronze Age, etc. It was blatantly a fabrication and within a relatively short time was shot down in flames. Unfortunately the alarmist side did not admit that it was make-believe science and continued to flout it before the faithful eco-warriors. Delusional as many of them appear the hockey stick was counter productive in that it created a bigger body of sceptics, astonished at the mickey mouse tactics of the Team. No doubt sceptics will apply a certain amount of rigour to the paper, after analysing it in detail, and it will be interesting what emerges over the next few weeks - but this does not appear, at face value, to be as artificial as the hockey stick graph. A lot of work has actually gone into the research behind the paper - and research in the field.

From a catastrophist point of view, the news that co2 levels rose quickly at the end of the Ice Age is actually rather a nice outcome. It is catastrophist friendly, particularly if it means the oceans had been stirred and sloshed around. Oceans are a repository of carbon and as we know that the Thera volcano was responsible for lots of old carbon that caused confusion in C14 dating methodology in the second millennium BC (Keenan, Nick Thom, Yahoo Groups: New Chronology debate, etc) so too might tsunami waves lashing various landscapes around the world release lots of old carbon, skew dating, and make it appear there was a rapid rise in global co2 levels at the very point marking the end of the Ice Age. At the moment the end of the Ice Age is followed by Heinrich One (formerly the Oldest Dryas event) and this appears more noticable in the North than the South Atlantic, hence the various claims the ocean circulation system first warmed around Antarctica prior to warm water percolatiing into the North Atlantic and melting the ice sheets. The Oldest Dryas event is somewhat an impediment - until we find out exactly what caused them (the seven Heinrich events in the Ice Age and the two or three Dryas events in Late Pleistocene). Lots of questions need answers - hopefully matters will be resolved by the by and a transparent catastrophist solution to the enigma will emerge. Heinrich/Dryas events were periods of cool climate, particularly during the winters, and this might reflect a loaded atmosphere (the orbit of the Earth encountering regions of space thick with cosmic dust) or the Sun in low activity mode, or even the axis of rotation in a state of flux (the tippe top model), and Shakun, the lead author of the paper, appears to think a wobble was involved in the warming at the end of the Ice Age - but not the kind of axial wobble a catastrophist might envisage (see which puts it all in the uniformitarian bubble. The orthodox position is that the ocean circulation system as developed by the likes of Wally Broecker is at the heart of the warming - and is rarely questioned. It may well mean the Gulf Stream, for example, came short of the North Atlantic during these periods, suggesting changes in wind systems. It's all up for grabs. A consensus on the end of the Ice Age is premature - so little is really known about it. Therefore, this paper in Nature can only contribute to the knowledge base.