Smoke and Bombs

14 Aug 2019

At ... we learn that scientists studying wildfire triggered thunderstorms have confirmed an important element of a nuclear winter theory as championed by Carl Sagan back in the 1980s. This was a big deal at the time and all part of the alarmism that surrounded a 'nuclear missile exchange' - a pre-climate change version of the end of the world. Using Carl Sagan's name in the press release may serve to date the teens of the author as the idea of a nuclear winter goes back before him. I think. It is one of those strange consequences in the wake of Gorbachev and better relations with Russia that fear of a nuclear conflict has receded - and therefore the fear of a nuclear winter episode. It is strange because a nuclear conflict in the modern world does not have to include Russia and the West as conflict between India and Pakistan, or Iran and Israel, is enough to trigger a nuclear exchange. In fact, it is more likely than the world baking as in modern alarmism surrounding rising co2 levels. Clube and Napier used the nuclear winter theme in the title of their book, The Cosmic Winter, in the 1990s. Recently, comments on web sites have mostly been to the effect that nuclear winter had died a death and scientists now thought it unlikely. This new study has brought the subject alive once again.

During a limited war in which a 100 small nuclear devices were used on cities and towns where firestorms could produce black sooty smoke, those particles could load the atmosphere and block out sunlight (create an opaque upper atmosphere) and even absorb sunlight. The latter would heat up the particles, we are informed, and the air around them and move said particles to rise higher up the atmospheric ladder. As there has been no nuclear war in order to test the theory, fear of one has subsided - hence the abandonment of nuclear winter (although it might be something to do with scientists downplaying that alarmism in order to accentuate their own brand of alarmism). It seems that forest fires can become intense enough to mimic Sagan's prediction - and this occurred in August of 2017 when fires in British Columbia created pyrocumulonimbus clouds (fire induced thunderstorms). They funnelled smoke directly into the stratosphere. The study is published in Science (August of 2019) by a team led by Pengfei Yu, and they used high tech instruments to look at the plume (such as satellites, balloons, and the International Space Station). The plume rose to 12 km, above the the flight path of jet airliners, before ascending as high as 23km as it spread across the northern hemisphere. It persisted for 8 months before slipping back into the lower atmosphere (where it was removed by precipitation). Yu goes on to say that although the forest fire was 1000 to 10,000 time smaller than what would be produced in a nuclear war, it was enough to confirm the process of a nuclear winter - and nuclear weapons continue to be the greatest threat to our planet. From a catastrophist perspective on Holocene history this is a useful study as a meteor blitz as the earth moved through a dense stream of dust and debris left behind by a comet or fragment of a comet could account for some notable examples of rapid downturns in climate (and unseasonal cold blips) triggered by atmospheric explosions. These would naturally affect the upper atmosphere to a greater extent than the lower atmosphere.