When is the next ice age?

Remember the blockbuster hit The Day After Tomorrow? Well, thanks to climate change, that doomsday scenario could become reality, albeit a bit more slowly than in the movie.

Back in 2004, I wrote a piece for Common Dreams, where I talked about the possibility of the Gulf Stream slowing or shutting down, and the resulting chaos that would cause.

The Gulf Stream is a very powerful and warm Ocean current that runs from the Pacific, around the coast of Africa, and all the way up the Atlantic to the region just off Greenland and northern Europe.

It influences the weather and climate all the way from Africa to North America to Europe.

Basically, if you look at a globe, you'll see that the latitude of much of Europe and Scandinavia is the same as that of Alaska and permafrost-locked parts of northern Canada and central Siberia.

But, Europe has a climate that’s more similar to that of the central United States than northern Canada or Siberia. So why is that?

It’s all because of the Gulf Stream.

The Gulf Stream brings warm surface ocean waters up from the Pacific, around Africa, and up through the equator into northern regions of the globe that otherwise would be so cold that even in the summer they’d be trapped in ice. If it were to stop flowing - to stop bringing all that heat to the northern hemisphere, much of Europe would have the climate of Alaska.

And now, scientists are suggesting that because of climate change and global warming, the Gulf Stream is indeed slowing down.

What I hinted at back in 2004 may be becoming reality, and that’s really bad news for our planet.

Scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found that recent changes in the Gulf Stream are likely coming from the cold, fresh waters coming from the melting polar ice caps and the melting glaciers of Greenland.

As ScienceWorldReport.com points out, “It's likely that freshwater coming off of the Greenland ice sheet is diluting saltwater and disturbing the oceanic circulation. Less saline water is less dense and therefore has less tendency to sink into the deep. This means that the human-caused mass-loss of the Greenland ice sheet may be slowing down the Atlantic overturning.”

In plain English, thanks to man-made climate change and global warming, the Greenland ice sheet and polar ice caps are melting, and all of that fresh water is flowing into the ocean, throwing the Gulf Stream and the warm waters it brings with it out-of-whack.

If climate change continues to rear its ugly head and the Greenland ice sheet and polar ice caps continue to melt, more and more fresh water will flow into the northern Atlantic Ocean, causing the Gulf Stream to slow down, and potentially shut down altogether.

If the Gulf Stream were to stop flowing today, the result could be sudden and dramatic.

Winter would set in for the eastern half of North America and all of Europe and Siberia, and never go away.

Within a few short years, those regions would become uninhabitable, and nearly two billion humans would starve, freeze to death, or have to relocate.

Civilization as we know it probably couldn't withstand the impact of such a crushing blow.

Much of the northern hemisphere could literally look like a scene out of The Day After Tomorrow.

New York City would be under ice. Boston would be under ice. London would be under ice. And the list goes on.

So, add a potential new ice age to the list of the devastating effects of climate change and global warming.

And while that's happening in the northern climes, equatorial regions from Mexico to northern Africa to Asia will be turning to desert - because even if it gets colder in one place (like it did in the eastern US this last winter) the entire planet itself is still getting warmer.

It’s bad enough that the Gulf Stream may be slowing down.

But, if we want to prevent a complete shutdown, and prevent a new ice age for much of the planet, than we need to put a price on carbon now to fight back against climate change, the greatest threat our human species has ever faced.


Ocean Pete's picture
Ocean Pete 8 years 8 weeks ago

Dear fllow live aboard, I listen to you between 2 and 5 on WCPT on my internet radio. We lived aboard '84-'89 in Houston and sailed to Greece and then up to Paris (my hometown).

As a retired petroleum industry plaeoclimatologist I appreciate your naratives on the subject and comment on Stefan Rhamstorf's idea and the mention of Art Bells's scenario... as Wally Broeker said its what we dont know that is going to get us, or at least bite our ass. The latency of climate change processes are far beyond the point of no return today. Use you "escape machine...!"



2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 8 weeks ago

It's no coincidence that the very first bill McConnell and his Senate Republicans passed was the Kochstone pipeline.......a quick return on the Koch's purchase of our democracy.

What I'm wondering .....do the Kochs really repudiate the science of global warming, or are they so out of control with obsessive thirst for more billions, they're simply unable to help themselves? I believe the latter, and that's where good government is supposed to step in and do an intervention. ...of course the Kochs, big banks, and the military industrial spy complex are the government now, so without a revolution, preferably at the polls , it's basically game over for the planet.

And why aren't the scientists from the Potsdam Institute getting all kinds of media attention over the biggest story in world history???.....sadly we all know the answer.

patrick H.T. paine's picture
patrick H.T. paine 8 years 8 weeks ago

Gee, Thom.....that MOVIE was released in 2004......did it "inspire" your article?

Or maybe you accidently read this article.....

Will global warming trigger a new ice age?


Or maybe the "inspiration came from:The book "The Sixth Winter" written by Douglas Orgill and John Gribbin and published in 1979, follows a similar theme. So does the novel Ice!, by Arnold Federbush, published in 1978.

Of course, there is this:

The Gulf Stream kept going during the last Ice AgeDate:September 16, 2014 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140916084821.htm and: While the Arctic is melting, the Gulf Stream remainsDate:September 28, 2014 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140928161302.htm I realise that YOU are probably a stranger to the concept of "due diligence" and clearly you have no concept of the fact that YOU probably have never had, norwill ever have an "original idea".......but do ALL of US a favor.......try taking a look.This is EASIER now than before, when you actually had to READ the books. The reason you should do this.....is because the "other side" will say anything......and if you are actually SERIOUS.......then you owe it to the people that actually"listen" to you.......to at least TRY to be accurate, and credit actual "sources"for the things you write and talk about. There is enough "ignorance" out there already.....and you are NOT a leader, whichleaves you two choices either FOLLOW or GET OUT OF THE WAY. Sincerely, patrick H.T. paine

jdw722's picture
jdw722 8 years 8 weeks ago

I just returned from Belize were all the beaches are being inudated with Sargassum seaweed. The locals say it has never ever been anywhere near this bad. When it is washed up on the beaches it decomposses and give off a gas that smells like a leaking or overflowing sepic tank drain field. It is nausiating and is redering the beaches unusable. It is also ruining the beaches from Cancun all the way down to the southern carribean.

I do not know if climate change is the cause. Some say it is the dispersants used to break up oil spills that is fertilizing the seaweed. I guess it it only fitting that oil company CEO's own actions are rendering there million dollar beach mansions uninhabitable.

I would like to see more reseach on this. Perhaps when energy companies realize that they are soiling there own nest, they will pay more attention.

ezwriter's picture
ezwriter 8 years 8 weeks ago

If find it enigmatic Thom that you make no mention what so ever to the possibility that geoengineering/chemtrails are playing in this whole global warming/climate change business. I thought you were 'INFORMED'? Maybe if the government would stop spraying chemicals into the atmosphere and allow the Earth to control the weather instead of man, we wouldn't be having this 'problem'. It figures that our government thinks that it's a good idea to poison the plants and animals of the planet in order to 'protect' the Earth from global warming. What a joke. Time to wake up Thom and report on this insidious program!!

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