Administration’s New Climate Report: Next Ice Age ‘Has Now Been Delayed Indefinitely’

Terence P. Jeffrey | February 8, 2013 | 4:04pm EST
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(AP Photo/Ron Rittenhouse)

( - A federal advisory committee appointed by the Obama administration to produce a report on climate change says that if Earth’s climate were still “primarily controlled by natural factors”—rather than by man-made global warming—then the next ice age would occur within the next 1,500 years.

But now, because of humans, the committee says, the next ice age has been "delayed indefinitely."

“Confirmation of what are called Milankovich cycles (cyclical changes in the Earth’s orbit that explain the onset and ending of ice ages) led a few scientists in the 1970s to suggest that the current warm interglacial period might be ending soon, plunging the Earth into a new ice age over the next few centuries,” the advisory committee said in a draft report released last month.

“Scientists continue to study this issue today; the latest information suggests that, if the Earth’s climate were being controlled primarily by natural factors, the next glaciation would begin sometime in the next 1,500 years,” says the report. “However, humans have so altered the composition of the atmosphere that the next glaciation has now been delayed indefinitely.”

The U.S. Commerce Department created the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee in December 2010. In May 2011, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco named its governing panel. The committee was charged with developing a new National Climate Assessment report, following up on two previous reports published in 2000 and 2009.

In January, the advisory committee released an 1,146-page draft report so the public could review it and comment on it.

The statement that the next Ice Age had been indefinitely postponed came in a set of questions and answers appended to the end of the draft report. The question posed was: “What about global cooling predictions in the 1970s?”

The answer provided by the draft report blames the hyping of an impending “ice age” on the “popular press.”

“An enduring myth about climate science is that in the 1970s the climate science community was predicting ‘global cooling’ and an ‘imminent; ice age,” it says.

“Where did all the discussion about global cooling come from?” it asks.

“First, temperature records from about 1940 to 1970 show a slight global cooling trend, intensified by temporary increases in snow and ice cover across the Northern Hemisphere," it says. "Unusually severe winters in Asia and parts of North America in 1972 and 1973 raised people’s concerns about cold weather. The popular press, including Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times, carried a number of articles about the cooling climate at that time.”

The report says average U.S. temperatures have increased 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, but will increase anywhere from 3 degrees Fahrenheit to 10 degrees Faherenheit by the end of this century depending on future human activity.

“The amount of warming by the end of the century is projected to correspond closely to the cumulative global emissions of greenhouse gases up to that time: roughly 3°F to 5°F under a lower emissions scenario involving substantial reductions in emissions after 2050 (referred to as the 'B1 scenario'), and 5°F to 10°F for a higher emissions scenario assuming continued increases in emissions (referred to as the 'A2 scenario'),” says the draft.

The report claims the planet will be a cooler place if the nations of the world create a “scenario” where there are fewer people born and fewer emissions of fossil fuels.

“At the lower end of the range,” it says, “the B1 scenario represents a world with lower population growth, higher economic development, a shift to low-emitting efficient energy technologies that are diffused rapidly around the world through free trade, and other conditions that reduce the rate and magnitude of changes in climate averages and extremes as well as increased capacity for adaptation.”

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