Oregon Magazine

Glacier Melts in Tierra Del Fuego, Oregon?

Beware the Ides of March --  It was a cool Oregon evening.  People were watching to see what the weather in Forest Grove, Gresham, Baker City and Salem was going to be.  Places in Oregon, in other words.  That, in many cases, is the only reason they watch local "news." Yet, a local Portland network affiliate weather "journalist" interrupted that report by dropping in a piece about the climate at the southern tip of South America. It is safe to say that local Portland, Oregon television stations have a limited number of viewers in that part of the planet, so his motive, here, was of interest.

He showed two photos.  In the first photo, one could see a glacier at the edge of (probably) the sea.  Chunks of the face of it had fallen into the water, proving that the people of, oh, say southern Argentina or Chile shouldn’t be allowed to drive SUVs.  Next this “journalist” showed a photo of the same place, a few years later.  The glacier was gone.  Melted miles back, it seems. 

Now why would a local television weather reporter show something like that?  My guess is that like the rest of the liberal media, he's starting to feel the heat from the new media, like conservative radio, FOX television news and, yes, even Oregon Magazine.  If his act had been a part of a network documentary on the subject of glacial melting, of course, a subject like that would seem logical.  But, no, this was an Oregon weather report.  What connection, you ask has a melting glacier at the far end of South America got to do with the weather in Portland, Oregon?

I’ll help you figure this one out.  The answer is: nothing.  During a winter when whiteout blizzards and icy roads have plagued North America from sea to frozen sea -- when the snowfall depths from Maine and Wisconsin right up to and including the Oregon Cascades are among the biggest in recent decades -- no connection, at all.  In fact, as this piece was being edited late in March, snow was falling all across the nation.

That's right, with the calendar already proving it's spring, with tornados rampaging across the American South, always a sign of spring, with floods raging in the lower midwest, always a sign of spring, it snowed on the tops of the hills overlooking our heroic weatherman's television station, and far, far beyond across America-- in some places more than a foot of it in one day.  So, in response, he was presenting "evidence" of a planet-wide heat wave? Why?  Well, the only possible reason for doing it has to be that the item supports the “man-caused global warming” nonsense presently in vogue here and elsewhere across the land.  To understand what this is all about, you're going to need some background on the subject.  Here it comes.

Are there “global” weather patterns?  Yes there are.  They come in two types.

Global weather pattern number one:  The Earth is really cool, man.

Wikipedia Ice Age page:

The present ice age began 40 million years ago with the growth of an ice sheet in Antarctica. It intensified during the late Pliocene, around 3 million years ago, with the spread of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere, and has continued in the Pleistocene. Since then, the world has seen cycles of glaciation with ice sheets advancing and retreating on 40,000- and 100,000-year time scales. The most recent glacial period ended about ten thousand years ago.

To one degree or another, cool periods happen quite often when you look at things from a geological perspective.  (The time spans Tennyson was referring to when he called mountains clouds.)  The scientists have proven to their own satisfaction that long term frigid periods are as common as crows in a corn field.   Twenty-one "significant ones" was the last number I saw.  However they measure such things, they consider four of them to be major ones. If you check out the Wikipedia link, above (definitely a good idea), you will see that we are considered to be still in one.  (Perhaps coming out of the last one is a way to describe the situation, although they seem to be saying that there are intense glaciation periods that come and go within a very long, overall "ice age.".)

FromSnowball Earth  (http://www.snowballearth.org/) Joseph L. Kirschvink, originator of the snowball earth concept, a self-reversing climate instability driven by ice-albedo feedback.

In the most extreme of these, the entire planet was covered in a shell of ice, and all the living things, plants and animals, became extinct except for those creatures who lived thousands of feet down in the oceans, near sea bottom volcanic vents -- and perhaps a few who managed to survive beneath the covering of ice by having blood that was similar to the anti-freeze we use in our automobiles each winter.  Etheline Glycol?  Something like that.  Some sea critters like that still exist near the poles, apparently.

In the less extreme cool periods, the ice sheets stop about halfway to the equator.  Both of these global event conditions are commonly referred to as ice ages.

Global weather pattern number two: It's a jungle out there.

In this one, the Earth is not covered with glaciers which reach and cover what are these days referred to as the “temperate latitudes,” let alone  making it to the tropics.  No, in  this second type of planetary climate, those ice sheets retreat, shrinking back to where they are these days, and (this is important) at times disappear completely.

This latter case has happened at least once according to my research on the subject.  They say that the entire globe was covered with water.  No ice caps, no glaciers and no dry land, at all. Based on a link down at the bottom of this piece, I can't yet buy that one. All the ice going, yes, but all the land submerged?  Anyway, the partial glacial retreat scenario has happened many times.  Plants love it.  Where the Earth doesn't turn into desert, it becomes lush tropical forest. 

Okay, we know what happens.  Now, tell me why.

The cause of such things?  Non-politically correct climatologists often attribute it  to changes in the output of the giant Bunsen burner this planet circles.  I think it was Carl Sagan who referred to it as a gigantic glowing glob of gas.

The sun.

But, there have been other causes suggested for climate changes, among them a "nemesis" (evil, devil, destroyer, etc.) star in a gravitic relationship with our sun.  (Binary star packages are normal in our galaxy -- the Milky Way.)  This sister star, which some believe to be a small red or brown dwarf, would be very hard for astronomers to spot, and have an elliptical orbit so large that its gravitic effect only screws things up on those mega-milennial occasions when it's close enough to the sun to cause problems.  That, indeed, would be a cyclical event -- a necessity from one of the possible perspectives.  The cycle?  Some believe you can measure that by the strangely perodic schedule of global mass-extinction events. However, we'll focus mostly on another potential troublemaker here, because some of the mechanics of it are mysterious to non-scientific folks, and also because it may be relevant to this specific discussion. 

Dragons do it.

The giant winged dragons of mythology lived inside mountains.  Everybody knew you could tell which ones were awake by the fire and smoke that was coming out the top and sides. Volcanoes do indeed pump out a lot of heat and greenhouse clouds. It probably takes a bunch of them going off at the same time to have a major effect, though.  Earth has a lot of atmosphere to fog up.  So, how could exploding mountains affect a gigantic volume like that?  I'll begin by explaining where volcanoes come from.  ( link to graphic, below)

In the fewest number of words, they come from the middle of the planet.  It's so hot down there, that Earth's iron core is a variety of fluid.  Very viscous fluid because of all the pressure.  Heat rises, of course, so now and then the rock above that molten core melts into lava and finds a weak spot in the crust to explode or seep through.  Sometimes this weak spot is just a local anomaly, but most of the time the access to the surface is caused by the presence of a continental shelf, or "plate," boundary. 

What, you ask, is that? 

The graphic below appears on a number of sites which deal with the subject.  Just about everybody prefers this particular illustration, it seems. I got this one from the internet reference source, "Wikipedia." ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_tectonics )  The darker sections are the "plates."  The lighter shades superimposed on the plate colors are the continents you find on a normal map. The tip of South America is at the bottom of the pale lavender patch in the lower middle.  Note that the geographic area at the center of this discussion (Tierra del Fuego) is at the meeting points of two shelf boundaries, and not far from a third and fourth..
The Earth’s surface is made of puzzle pieces which constantly float around on that liquid iron core. 

(New York City may collide with Europe some day.  According to one source, the Atlantic Ocean is shrinking in size by a few centimeters each year as  two plates collide and one slides under the other. On the other hand, according to a program I recently saw on the History Channel, the two continents are moving apart.  I know people who are equally unsure of which direction they are going.) 

Anyway, at one time (and possibly one or more times previous to that) all the plates were assembled in one place.  The puzzle picture on the surface was of one gigantic continent.  The rest of the planet's surface was ocean.  Then, a very long time ago when early dinosaurs walked the land, it broke up into the shapes we see on a globe, today.  One source I located held that this breakup generated tremendous volcanic activity which surged up through the newly formed cracks in the plates, and that this affected the world's climate.

At any rate, when plates collide, or even rub against each other going in opposite directions, you get friction.  With friction comes heat --  a softening of the “solid” land, or a crack of some kind.  Many of the planet’s volcanic chains and other mountain ranges are found in these places. The latter of these two types -- non-volcanic mountains -- must be over areas where the underlying crust is so thick that heat from the core can't work its way upwards.  This results in crustal wrinkles on at least one of the plates.  The Himalayas are this kind of mountain range.

Hawaii, in the middle of the government graphic, below, is not above a major plate boundary as far as I can tell, but rather is over a (really) hot spot of some kind.  Or maybe the plate is thin, there.  Anyway, as a plate passes over one of these locations, you can get island chains, each island in the sequence made out of a volcano that is born, grows upwards, then peters out as it drifts away from that spot.

But the bulk of the Earth's volcanoes occur along those plate edges.  Shown here is the famous "Ring of Fire."  You're looking at a semi-circle of plate boundaries that runs from near Australia, up past China, across to Alaska and down almost to Tierra del Fuego. Japan's hot mountains, the legendary Krakatoa, the big nasties along the west coast of South America -- all are there for the same reason.  Even the Cascade range in Oregon and Washington.  St. Helens, Mt. Hood and the rest going south or north are volcanoes.  There's a volcano, in fact, in the city of Portland, Oregon.  You read that right.  It's inside the city limits.

The mid-Atlantic ridge, deep below the surface of that ocean, is also a chain of these kinds of mountains.  It runs along a plate boundary.

Talk about carbon emissions!

Imagine that volcanoes are the tailpipes of the most gigantic SUVs ever to appear on Earth.  Some of you watched St. Helens going off.  One day, while viewing the eruption from the deck of a sloop in the Columbia River, I saw mushroom clouds going up. It looked like a nuclear explosion.  Talk about greenhouse gasses!  Cubic miles of greenhouse gasses!  From a rather small  volcano as such things go.  Now, picture a whole range of volcanoes going off.  Or a whole bunch of volcanic ranges going off.  The mathematics of this could be compared to an SUV with a tailpipe that was five thousand miles in diameter sitting on the Sepulvida off ramp in L.A., and the driver, obviously a Republican conservative, holding the gas pedal to the floor while he sat there in the evening drive time traffic jam.

In no time at all, those zillions of cubic miles of greenhouse gasses would float up into the stratosphere, and as a result of the greenhouse effect turn the entire planet into a furnace, right?  Well, maybe.  Studies of the time when the Earth became a ball of ice indicate that the result may have been a world on fire for a while, but that the long term result was the drastic reduction in the amount of sunlight coming down. 

The entire surface of the planet froze solid.

(Some scientists say you can get the same effect from a giant meteor slamming into us, sending up so much sunlight-blocking dust with the impact that the whole joint turned into a round ice cube.  But, while there may be a geological record of this happening a time or two, there is no evidence that meteor impacts caused those other global warming and global cooling cycles.)

Furthermore, while volcanic eruptions may have been a factor, possibly even the major factor, in some cases, the safest guess about the the most likely cause of those dozens of climate shifts for the cooler is a drop in the output of the sun.  And the most likely cause of all those global warming epochs which followed those ice ages was an increase in the output of that very same sun.  Man had nothing to do with any of them. 

Is there science on this?  Is Al  Gore  saying anything that makes scientific sense?

Besides exposing a hole in Al Gore's famous man-caused carbon baloney, the following link talks about the sun:   Global Warming:  "There's a Disturbance in the Farce"   That isn't the title you'll see when you get there.  The email that alerted me to the piece headlined it that way.  Damn funny and damn true. Definitely click on this one.  If you only read the first few paragraphs, you will learn more truth than in five years of the New York Times or the major television network commentary on the subject. 

By the way, if, in fact, volcanoes are a major or multiplying factor in the regular, repetitive ice-age/global warming pattern, then their eruptions must be cyclical -- that is, generated by something that is periodic in nature . I imagine that's possible, given "Opton Z," below.  A Draysonian wobble would shake the whole planet.  Jiggle the crustal plates.  Perhaps that idea has been proposed in scientific journals, but I've never seen the concept appear in the popular press.

(Option Z, here, could be a periodic change in the Earth's axial tilt, its "angle to the sun."  Spinning tops wobble at times.  If the line through the planet from pole to pole were 90 degrees to the light from the sun, it would -- excluding the distance factor produced by Earth's elliptical orbit -- eliminate the seasons. As you went north or south from the equator, things would cool off.  And, the opposite? What would a greater angle than the one we presently have produce?  More summer in places and more winter in others?  Wider ranges of seasonal termperatures?  I just don't know.)

Getting back to local TV weather reports …

So, now, we return to the melting glacier at the southern tip of South America.  It sure as Hell wan't caused by a world-wide volcanic-chain mass eruption. Was it caused by evil Republican conservatives and their capitalist imperialist running dogs, the oil companies and the giant automakers in Detroit?  Or, is it part of some natural, perhaps even periodic, solar output variation?  (A change in how much light the sun sends to us.) 

Could it be the result of local warming because of a shift in ocean currents?  That is a real possibility.  El Nino (neen-yo) is a change in what are called "upwelling" flows in a giant patch of ocean off the coast of South America. When that happens, it affects major current patterns (the giant "rivers" of ocean water that circulate around the globe), which in turn clearly affects large scale storm patterns, like hurricanes.

And what about the possibility of volcanic activity on or near the surface in that region of the planet?

Here’s my thought on that.

The southern tip of South America is called “Tierra del Fuego.”  That is Spanish for “Land of Fire.”  What do you think caused people to give that place that name?

(maplink: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tierra_del_Fuego)

Virtually all of Iceland's energy comes from volcanic vents and underground wells tapping that heat source.  Yellowstone Park in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho was called the land that smokes (click on the link and see for yourself) by the first humans to see it.  You don't find many glaciers on top of the boiling hot steam vents in the park.

The point here is that if the television report in question was accurate, a glacier way down at the tip of South America  has melted back.  The next thing that must be done after that -- assuming that you are a broadcast journalist who has ten minutes of usable professional training -- is to determine why.  This involves questions which lead to facts.  It does not lead to an instant assumption that the people of this nation should be taxed to death, their freedoms restricted, their very lives reshaped and American corporations burdened with unsupportable layers of regulations based on the totally speculative and politically motivated liberal theory that mankind's activities are destroying the planet.

Making law and regulations is a serious business.  Basing these activities on cultural fads is very, very dangerous.  There was a time when slavery was culturally accepted in America.  Law was written which supported that temporal custom.   This is why law must be based on facts, not cultural biases or thinly supported "scientific" opinions. (On logic and ethical principles, instead of currently popular attitudes or moods.)

Fear is not a sufficient reason to tax and regulate a nation -- unless that fear is based on solid information.  Solid facts. 

Here are the only indisputable facts about Global Warming:

The planet Earth is, indeed, experiencing a period of global warming that began, oh, perhaps ten thousand years back, give or take a bucket of centuries..  If it wasn’t warming it would be cooling, and in twenty to thirty centuries you’d be living under a hundred feet of ice.  Setting aside our melting South American glacier for the moment, what about the mammoth  chunks of the Antarctic ice cap which are breaking into the sea?  What is the cause, and what will be the result, of this sort of thing?  Not what your local TV weatherman thinks.  Do yourself a big favor and click on this link:   What if all the Ice Melts? 
Here's one of the paragraphs you will seeThis statement alludes to the significant point that the Antarctic ice cap appears to currently be growing rather than shrinking. In fact, were the climate to warm significantly in the next few centuries (not a certain future, but supposing it happened), current models suggest that Antarctica would gain ice, with increased snowfall more than offsetting increased melting. 

Now, scientists often call these periods of warming between or within ice ages “interstices.”  They are natural, quite likely even periodic, climatic events.  At one time, Antarctica was totally free of ice.  After that, it became totally covered with ice. After that, it became free of ice.  After that, etc.  What's happening today has already happened twenty  or more times. 

All, repeat all, geological evidence proves it.  And there is no, repeat no, evidence that a single one of the previous interstices was caused by the smokestacks of Cave Man coal-fired electric plants.  Based on geological ages of proof, and the often suppressed but growing opposition to the concept of man-caused global warming, any “scientist” who says that issue is settled is either a fool, or going along with the local power structure of his supporting educational or scientific institution so he can keep his job, his "professional" reputation and his future pay increases.

Man-caused global warming is not supported by a preponderance of evidence.  It is a theory, and like all theories is just speculation until its claims are supported by hard facts. Every day, now, people, including scientific people, are coming out of the closet and facing the displeasure of their associates by saying what I have just said here.  This local television "journalist" I have been talking about does not accept what these dissenters are proposing.  It doesn't fit his liberal portrait of the world around him -- a portrait which emerged during the Sixties in America, and which has since infiltrated the majority of our educational institutions, as well as what is known as the "mainstream media."

He works for a major network affiliate.  If he doesn't promote the liberal fantasy, his career is gone, so he does not question what they don't want questioned.  It is safer to believe that which is currently politically correct.  Now, I am not saying that this TV “journalist” is a conscious part of a gigantic conspiracy.  Hell, I don’t even consider him to be conscious. But, knowingly or unknowingly, he is a working cog in the liberal machine.

Glaciers melt back because the atmosphere or the ground gets warmer.  Chunks of the polar ice caps crack off into the sea for all kinds of reasons. (Even too much snowfall can cause it, which is ironic since snow, not ice, is what all glaciers are made of.)   The Earth has been in a glacial retreat period for at least ten centuries.  During warm periods there are climate variations in both directions, but the long term pattern, the average temperature, goes higher -- until for natural reasons, it heads in the other direction.

You want some facts that fly in the face of Al Gore's disaster scenario?  The most recent scientific data on ocean temperatures is that in spite of carbon emission levels, this planet's seas are growing colder !!!  My friends, you cannot arbitrarily pick and choose your "evidence" when you're talking about planet-wide events. Here's why: Climate Panel on the Hot Seat

Yet, the response of this local weather "journalist" to a photo of a melting glacier is as automatic, and as mindless, as a wolf's response to the sight of a wounded prey animal.  There isn't a lick of human intelligence involved.


Not convinced, yet?  Click on this: http://junkscience.com/

(Plus, take a look at the links in the "Fun With Science" section on the cover.)

Original text © 2008 Oregon Magazine