Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Fire Next Time, or the Ice Next Time?

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Hunters in the Snow 

Fire and Ice 
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
. . . . .  - Robert Frost, 1920

Over at the Southern Rockies Nature Blog, Chas Clifton points to a BBC story that says some folks are speculating that we might be entering a time of reduced solar flares, aka, a return to the Maunder Minimum or Little Ice Age of 1550–1750 when a period of almost no sunspots resulted in deep winter freezings across Europe.

No one know what will happen with the weather.  Some say we will all perish from the heat, some say we will all perish from the ice. Almost all confuse weather, which we are starting to know a little about, with climate, which we know not too much about. The future is always pretty murky, but the past is always a bit clearer.  With that in mind, what actually happened during the last Little Ice Age?

Frozen Thames, Unknown Artist

Well, for one thing, glaciers expanded and crops failed spectacularly.  Not only did rivers, such as the Thames, freeze over, but in 1658, a Swedish army marched across the frozen sea ice in order to attack Copenhagen.

Ships froze solid in their moorings and were attacked across the ice by men with axes and fire.

The Norse colonies on Greenland died out altogether.

Repeated famines due to cold-weather crop failures repeatedly knocked over Europe and decimated those struggling in the New World.

So will the world end in fire, or will it end in ice?  Or will it, more likely, stumble forward as before, sometimes pruning off men, animals, and plants as it has always done since the beginning of time?

Mother Nature always bats last, and we forget that while she can be as fragile as a butterfly wing, she can also be as tough as basalt.  In the end, as far as Mother Nature is concerned, humans are are just temporary renters.

1 comment:

geonni banner said...

Sometimes people ask me what I think we should do about the planet.

I tell 'em NOTHING. We're doing a fine job of eradicating ourselves - which is all that's needed.