Volcanoes and climate change

Ever notice how subtly recently the phrase “global warming” has become “global climate change”? More and more scientists are bailing out on global warming as the statistics and predictions come under more and more scrutiny, and often found lacking. Yet, there is little doubt the climate is changing. The science debate is by how much, how fast, and why. Governments overlap this debate with the question of what (if anything) should be done about it is probably most important for us since it directly affects our lives through blanket regulations and taxes.

Now, it’s the more encompassing idea of global climate change. As if any year is exactly like the one before it and should the same in the future. The record cold and snowfall around the world this winter don’t fit very well into the original global warming theory. Yet those still pushing it, have morphed the theory around it saying as temperatures rise, it puts more moisture in the air which allows cooler, wetter winters. That makes sense but, how can you have a cooler winter yet still global warming without a corresponding rise in summer temperature? If not, the average temperature actually drops, not rises.

Most of the climate data being used is short term, often just 30 years. Yet most scientists claim the Earth is millions of years old and during that time has gone through numerous ice ages. Shouldn’t it stand to reason if it can have ice ages, there are also unusually warm periods as well? Even conservative Christian estimates of Earth’s age being between 4000-6000 years has more range than most of the current climate models.

Is it natural or human caused changes making a larger difference? Yes. I will agree that humans have made an impact upon our world as we cut ancient forests, spew toxic gasses, and dump garbage everywhere. Yes, these practices should be limited. But how much difference is really man made and how much is actually natural? One thing my husband noticed when looking at some of the global warming data was that if you take into account the full range of the statistical error, humans are actually causing global cooling. It’s all in the interpretation.

With the volcano in Iceland blowing enormous ash clouds over Europe today, the debate about climate change is again changing. Ash blocks out sunlight and cools temperatures. Even in recent recorded history, I can think of 2 instances where volcanic activity directly caused global climate change. The first was Kratatoa, an island in Indonesia. In 1883 it exploded and almost completely destroyed the island. The explosion was heard  over 3000 miles away in Australia and the shock wave circled the world for 5 days. In the following year, global temperatures fell slightly over a degree Celsius, and didn’t return completely to normal patterns for 5 years. The cooler temperatures caused harsh winters and cool summers resulting in crop failures.

The second is only 20 years ago in 1991, when Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines exploded in the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Sunlight was blocked by ash and haze worldwide by 10 percent. It caused global temperatures to fall half a degree Celsius.

Remember the famous ozone hole over Antarctica? Ozone depletion substantially increased temporarily after Mt Pinatubo. Another 1991 volcanic eruption (Mt Hudson in Chile), also increased the ozone depletion.

What about rising ocean temperatures and melting arctic sea ice? My husband found evidence of a small underwater volcano over the largest area of melt (from publicly available data). Could it be the ice melting isn’t so much due to warmer air as from warmer water from the volcano? Some wonder how the ice could be melting yet the water temperature be constant and therefore presume the melting is from the top down through warmer air. Yet basic chemistry tells us ice water is always 32 degrees until the ice is all gone! The ice absorbs the warmth as it melts to cool the water. Now that the volcanic activity has slowed, so has the rate of ice melt. Hmmm. That would just make too much sense.

Truth is, we just don’t know enough about climate cycles to do much other than guess. The earth and it’s systems are very complex. Hopefully scientists (and politicians) will take nature more into account rather than saying people have directly influenced long term climate in a major way. As the world waits to see what the long term effects of this Icelandic volcano and it’s ash cloud (ironically occurring just after major international debate over global climate change), it should serve as a reminder of that. But I doubt it.  They have their pet theory and will push it and it’s associated consequences onto others until proven wrong. It’s much easier to regulate people than God. 🙂


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